Cuba lashes out against U.S. funding for ‘subversive’ projects

The U.S. and Cuban flags wave outside the U.S. Embassy in Havana.
The U.S. and Cuban flags wave outside the U.S. Embassy in Havana. AP

A day before the fourth round of bilateral diplomatic talks is scheduled to take place in Washington, the state-controlled Cuban media lambasted some U.S.-funded programs to organizations with ties to the island.

The official media website Cubadebate reproduced a list — originally published by Along the Malecón blog — of organizations that receive funding from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a Washington-based private, nonprofit foundation with a global mission to advance democracy.

Cubadebate referred to the NED as a “governmental organization” financing “subversive” programs totaling almost $4 million. Most of the projects are aimed at Cuban youth, human rights activists, independent media and others in the communities across the island, the article states.

“The programs not only run covertly in Cuba, where these operations are illegal, but includes the recruitment of staff in third countries,” Cubadebate reported.

Cuba is in the midst of a media campaign against the scholarship program of World Learning, a summer initiative for young Cubans, which ended in August and included a four-week exchange program in the United States. Scholarship recipients were able to travel with all their expenses covered, including airfare, lodging, meals and educational materials.

The official Cuban press has listed the program as “hostile” and “interventionist,” and Communist youth organizations on the island also have expressed their rejection to the program. The nightly Cuban television news program Mesa Redonda (Round Table), hosted by journalist Randy Alonso, director of Cubadebate, was expected to address the issue Thursday night.

Gustavo Machín, deputy-director general for the United States at the Cuban Foreign Ministry, announced that Cuba will take up the matter during talks in Washington as part of the US-Cuba Bilateral Commission gathering.

“We reject that the U.S. Embassy promotes these programs without official consent or consultation with counterparts and are working outside the margins of official authorities and channels established for these purposes,” Machín told the Spanish news agency EFE.

However, Machín emphasized that the media lashing by Cuba “is not contrary to the promotion of cooperation and exchange” between the two countries.

“We are officially collaborating to implement a program proposed by the U.S. Embassy and the State Department about teaching English language in Cuba and this project is working,” Machín said in Havana.

Other topics Cuba plans to bring up during the Washington gathering: lifting of the U.S. economic embargo, returning land in Guantánamo Bay now serving as a Navy Base and bringing an end to preferential migration policies for Cubans.