US imperialism has been revealed to have been attempting to stir up revolt against the Cuban government through first surreptitiously establishing a social media network similar to Twitter by the name of ZunZuneo. Elaborate precautions were taken to ensure that the hand of US imperialism could not readily be detected, but the project was in fact financed by USAID.
“USAID and its contractors went to extensive lengths to conceal Washington’s ties to the project, according to interviews and documents obtained by the AP. They set up front companies in Spain and the Cayman Islands to hide the money trail, and recruited CEOs without telling them they would be working on a U.S. taxpayer-funded project.
“‘There will be absolutely no mention of United States government involvement,’ according to a 2010 memo from Mobile Accord Inc., one of the project’s creators. ‘This is absolutely crucial for the long-term success of the service and to ensure the success of the Mission. ‘” (Desmond Butler, Jack Gilllum and Alberto Arce, Associated Press, 3 April 2014).
The idea was to get large numbers of young people involved in the medium through initially using it to spread innocent-seeming information such as baseball results. It would enable the US authorities to garner information as to which Cuban youth, if any, might be susceptible to US propaganda and then, once most of the youth were hooked, to start using the medium to incite revolt against the Cuban government
“ZunZuneo’s organizers worked hard to create a network that looked like a legitimate business, including the creation of a companion website – and marketing campaign – so users could subscribe and send their own text messages to groups of their choice.
“‘Mock ad banners will give it the appearance of a commercial enterprise’, one written proposal obtained by the AP said. Behind the scenes, ZunZuneo’s computers were also storing and analyzing subscribers’ messages and other demographic information, 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’.” (ibid.).
However, the programme did not in the end make much headway. It had aimed at 400,000 subscribers but only managed 40,000 – less than 1% of the Cuban population. In March 2011 its funding was withdrawn and it closed down. To the extent that the issue is being discussed at all in the bourgeois media, it is to consider whether the project was a ‘legal’ use of funding – the money in question had been publicly allocated to projects in Pakistan – and to bemoan the damage to USAID’s reputation because it supposedly will now find it more difficult to distribute help to the people who most need it! Since everybody knows that USAID is a vehicle for US imperialism’s covert operations, this Cuban misadventure has not made matters any worse – though perhaps the shock and horror being expressed in the US Senate and/or Congress may be designed to create the impression that once a few bad apples have been removed everybody is going to be able to trust it again to confine itself to purely humanitarian projects. That is not going to work!
It should not be thought that with the closure of ZunZuneo US imperialism’s efforts to subvert the Cuban population have come to an end. The Cuban mobile phone company has indicated that spam text messages continue to crowd the airwaves under the designation Piramideo and Conmotion, Piramideo was set up under the aegis of the counter-revolutionary media companies Radio Marti and TV Martí, by a company called Washington Software Inc from Germantown, Maryland. Coincidentally no doubt, the US Broadcasting Board of Governors has paid Washington Software $3.2 million since 2011. Piramideo is a similar to ZunZuneo, again providing social networking that does not require internet access and ZunZuneo may have been closed down because Piramideo was providing the same service more effectively, or cheaper, or both. It is undoubtedly also in close contact with Washington. Its stated purpose is to enable Cubans to ” free themselves from the totalitarian censorship and join the continuous process of hemispheric democratization“, to quote from an open letter by Carlos A. García-Pérez, the Director, Office of Cuba Broadcasting at Radio and TV Martí (based in Miami, Florida, and financed by the US government). In other words, its admitted purpose is regime change in Cuba.
Similar projects are being taken in various other Latin American countries whose governments have stood up against US super-exploitation of their resources, in particular Bolivia and Ecuador, orchestrated by such NED financed organisations as GALI (Grupo Andino de Libertades Informativos – Andean Group for Media Freedom). While no doubt a free press is an invaluable thing, the ‘freedom’ being demanded is to spread US fabricated disinformation with a view to undermining governments that stand up against imperialism. An important technique also is to exploit minor discontent (it is not until the higher stage of communism that it is possible for any economy, even a socialist one, to provide for every one of every person’s needs) to foment insurrection among people who do not realise that whatever disappointments they may have that their government cannot for the moment alleviate, the situation of the overwhelming majority of people is going to be far worse should their progressive government be overthrown at the behest of those who are exploiting their discontent.