US Created ‘Cuban Twitter’ to Spy on Cubans’ Views & Stir Unrest

Source: ‘Cuban Twitter’ secretly created by U.S. to stir unrest, April 3, 2014, The Associated Press

cubans texting



NOTE This was an effort by USAID to trick 100,000 Cubans into revealing their political inclinations to the US government, & such illegal conduct was aimed at building building an opposition within Cuba which USAID currently rates as being so small as to be “irrelevant.” See below.

You can also see a video summarizing this significant expose’ from this link to the full report, http://www.newsday.com/business/technology/cuban-twitter-secretly-created-by-u-s-to-stir-unrest-1.7593677. But some key revelations below are not mentioned at all in that video nor in most of the coverage so far given in US media.

USAID used illegal tactics to trick 100,000 Cuban cellphone users in order to secretly monitor and record their political inclinations. If Cuba did that to its own citizens, it would be accused of using Stasi-like tactics.  But instead our own taxpayer money was used to trick Cubans into revealing their private sentiments as part of  the U.S. government’s covert operations seeking to build opposition in another sovereign country, where USAID’s own assessment is that its favored segment in Cuban society has no significant support within Cuba (it dubbed its favored part of Cuba’s population as the “democratic movement,” which it characterized as being “still [largely] irrelevant” as quoted in the AP story). 

It may be reasonable to at least suspect that Alan Gross’s actions in Cuba, for which USAID paid some $500,000, was related to this or similar USAID projects as just revealed by the AP. (Gross is the American contractor, convicted and jailed in Cuba, in a case which the Cuban government has offered to discuss on humanitarian grounds that would include the fate of the Cuban Five, now in their 16th year of U.S. imprisonment for attempting to prevent further acts of terrorism planned in Florida against people in Cuba. See www.thecuban5.org & www.freethefive.org.) – Art Heitzer, Chair, National Lawyers Guild’s Cuba Subcommittee.

A few of the pertinent excerpts from the full report, are these:

“There will be absolutely no mention of United States government involvement,” according to a 2010 memo from Mobile Accord, one of the project’s contractors. “This is absolutely crucial for the long-term success of the service and to ensure the success of the Mission.”

… the project drew in more than 40,000 Cubans to share news and exchange opinions. But its subscribers were never aware it was created by the U.S. government, or that American contractors were gathering their private data in the hope that it might be used for political purposes.

Taken together, they tell the story of how agents of the U.S. government, working in deep secrecy, became tech entrepreneurs — in Cuba. And it all began with a half a million cellphone numbers obtained from a communist government.

USAID divided Cuban society into five segments depending on loyalty to the government. On one side sat the “democratic movement,” called “still (largely) irrelevant,” and at the other end were the “hard-core system supporters,” dubbed “Talibanes” in a derogatory comparison to Afghan and Pakistani extremists.

Tensions with Congress spiked just as the ZunZuneo project was gearing up in December 2009, when another USAID program ended in the arrest of the U.S. contractor, Alan Gross. Gross had traveled repeatedly to Cuba on a secret mission to expand Internet access using sensitive technology typically available only to governments, a mission first revealed in February 2012 by AP.

One [message drafted by a US employee to sound “Cuban” — AH] asked respondents whether they thought two popular local music acts out of favor with the government should join the stage with Juanes. Some 100,000 people responded — not realizing the poll was used to gather critical intelligence. Paula Cambronero, a researcher for Mobile Accord, began building a vast database about the Cuban subscribers, including gender, age, “receptiveness” and “political tendencies.” USAID believed the demographics on dissent could help it target its other Cuba programs and “maximize our possibilities to extend our reach.”

Carlos Sanchez Almeida, a lawyer specializing in European data protection law, said it appeared that the U.S. program violated Spanish privacy laws because the ZunZuneo team had illegally gathered personal data from the phone list and sent unsolicited emails using a Spanish platform. “The illegal release of information is a crime, and using information to create a list of people by political affiliation is totally prohibited by Spanish law,” Almeida said. It would violate a U. S-European data protection agreement, he said.

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