Recently, details about USAID’s social media project in Cuban have come into circulation, causing many to speculate the covertness of this operation. For years USAID has publicized that they do not take part in such operations, but details of this investigation have the potential to prove otherwise. This ‘Cuban Twitter” titled ZunZuneo was in circulation for over two years, and had thousands of subscribers, none of whom had any clue the the US government had anything to do with it. It was financed completely through foreign banks, leaving little to no trace of any connection to Washington. There was no involvement by any intelligence services, and USAID was primarily responsible for entirety of the campaign. Many different documents and interviews are showing USAID’s extensive efforts to conceal its involvement in the project. USAID has also said that stopped the project in 2012 when the government grant ended.
The way ZunZuneo works was through SMS messages that subscribers sent to update the site. At the beginning, the content was to be all about sports and entertainment. But, according to the information that is recently being uncovered about USAID’s intentions, they would eventually transition the discussion to be more politically centered, eventually bringing up existing issues in the Cuban government and leading to the potential undermining of the government as a whole. Executives of USAID are responding to these accusations by saying that their goals were to stimulate communication with Cuba due to the restrictions the country has in place in terms of US communication as a whole. However, USAID has not completely rejected the idea of stimulating political conversations. They have noted social media’s role in various global uprisings, elections, etc. where the beginning conversations as well as the spread of awareness has stemmed from the internet.
As more information is slowly being revealed about ZunZuneo and how covert or not covert its operations are, it is interesting to see both sides. Many Congress members are dissatisfied with their lack of knowledge about this project and the government funds it was using. Yet, the idea of “undermining” the Cuban government is not something many people involved in the US government are opposed to, whether it is by means they agree with or not.