Details have emerged that the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) did far more clandestine work than previously thought. While it came out earlier this year the agency tried to implement a “Cuban Twitter,” it also tried to use Hip-Hop to overthrow Cuba‘s government.
The Associated Press reported Thursday that the USAID attempted to recruit rising Hip-Hop artists in Cuba who have been critical of its Communist regime. These rap activists had no idea that they were being groomed by the USAID for an attempted government takeover, but it appears the agency’s plan was poorly constructed and ultimately undone.
More from the AP:
The idea was to use Cuban musicians “to break the information blockade” and build a network of young people seeking “social change,” documents show. But the operation was amateurish and profoundly unsuccessful.
On at least six occasions, Cuban authorities detained or interrogated people involved in the program; they also confiscated computer hardware, and in some cases it contained information that jeopardized Cubans who likely had no idea they were caught up in a clandestine U.S. operation. Still, contractors working for the U.S. Agency for International Development kept putting themselves and their targets at risk, the AP investigation found.
They also ended up compromising Cuba’s vibrant hip-hop culture — which has produced some of the hardest-hitting grassroots criticism since Fidel Castro came to power in 1959. Artists that USAID contractors tried to promote left the country or stopped performing after pressure from the Cuban government, and one of the island’s most popular independent music festivals was taken over after officials linked it to USAID.
In documents also obtained by the AP, it revealed that Washington, D.C. contractor Creative Associates International paid millions to disrupt Cuba’s Communist government. These documents showed emails, expense reports, photos and other damning evidence. It also made mention of the “Cuban Twitter” or ZunZuneo.
The USAID issued a statement Wednesday denying that they engaged in any secret or covert operations. The agency asserted whatever programs they enacted were aimed at promoting civic engagement in Cuba where that type of activity is frowned upon.