U.S. companies in Cuba tied to top-secret work

At least 37 U.S. companies that worked in Cuba from 2000 to 2009 are involved in top-secret taxpayer-financed endeavors somewhere in the world, Washington Post and FedSpending records show.
In July 2010, the Washington Post identified 1,931 companies that do top-secret work on behalf of the U.S. government (See the Post’s Top Secret America database). FedSpending records show that at least 37 of those firms also have been contracted for jobs – though not necessarily secret work – in Cuba.
Records do not show precisely where all of the classified work was carried out, but it appears that most or all took place as part of multimillion-dollar upgrades to the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, or GITMO, after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
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U.S. activist: “Toppling dictators is something I really like”

Stephanie Rudat's blog says: "Ask me anything." So I asked if she is getting any U.S. government money to put on the {think} Cuba summit in Panama in April.

A California social entrepreneur wants to unite some of the world’s most effective technology-driven activists at an invitation-only gathering aimed at jump-starting the process of change in Cuba.
Stephanie Rudat is convening the elite international task force in Panama the week of April 11. Her three-day event is known as {think} Cuba and it’s backed by big bucks and big ideas.
The project’s website says:

This international task force will collectively support efforts of Cuba’s leading activists and have the opportunity to present initiatives that put their ideas into action. Together, with combined expertise and a global perspective, they will push the pursuit of freedom and improvement of circumstance for Cubans.

Rudat is a co-founder of the Alliance for Youth Movements, which received $225,690 in State Department funds to gather a group of activists and entrepreneurs in Mexico City from Oct. 14 to Oct. 16, 2009, USASpending.gov records show.
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No fuss over $8 million in aid for Cuba

The Canadian government gives millions of dollars in aid to Cuba, but you don’t hear a peep about it.
The Canadian International Development Agency budgeted $8,234,326 (8,040,000 in Canadian dollars) for Cuba aid from 2009 to 2010, according to the CIDA’s website.
Unlike the U.S. Agency for International Development, CIDA consults with the Cuban government before pouring aid into the country. Here’s how CIDA sums up its philosophy:

Canada is continuing its ongoing policy dialogue with various levels of government in Cuba; CIDA supports the interest that Cuban officials have expressed in maintaining social gains during a period of economic liberalization. Throughout these discussions, Canada offers its advice on increasing the accountability of public institutions and promoting political and economic openness. (more…)

$600,000 in hurricane funds used for Cuba program

The U.S. Agency for International Development gave a Virginia company $600,000 in hurricane funds to help carry out a program aimed at boosting Cuba’s civil society, USASpending.gov records show.
International Relief & Development, or IRD, received a total of $3,096,978 in USAID funds in 2008 and 2009, records show. USAID gave the company the $600,000 in hurricane funds on Sept. 24, 2008 (see enlarged timeline).
The Arlington, Va., company works in more than 40 countries, but does not mention any Cuba work on its website.
Company officials have made public meetings they have with Bisa Williams, the State Department’s former coordinator of Cuban Affairs, and staffers of Sen. Robert Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat and outspoken critic of the Cuban government.
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Up to $30 million for Internet freedom projects in Cuba, other nations

The State Department plans to spend up to $30 million for Internet freedom projects in Cuba and other nations.
In a Jan. 11 notice (download PDF), the agency solicited project ideas from U.S. organizations interested in carrying out Internet freedom projects in Cuba and other nations. Feb. 7 was the deadline.
The State Department has not named – and likely will not announce – the organizations that will carry out the projects. The agency said it would solicit ideas, pick the best projects, then ask the organizations to submit formal proposals.
Grants of $500,000 to $8 million each are up for grabs. The awards are expected to total about $30 million. The money is coming from the federal government’s fiscal 2010 budget, not the 2011 budget.
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USAID: Nearly $2 million for Cuba audits

Since April 2008, USAID has paid a Washington, D.C., accounting firm at least $1.9 million for audits and financial services related to the agency’s Cuba program. Budget records show four payments:

  • $169,000 paid on April 15, 2008.
  • $831,000 paid on July 28, 2008.
  • $300,000 paid on April 12, 2010.
  • $600,000 paid on July 27, 2010, as part of a contract that is set to end on April 11, 2011.

Total: $1.9 million.

The DMP Group conducted the audits and other services in exchange for the $1.9 millon. Earlier today, I sent two Freedom of Information Act requests to USAID, asking for any reports and audits that The DMP Group has produced in connection with these contracts. You can see these and other pending FOIA requests here.

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