WASHINGTON (AP) -- An Obama administration program secretly dispatched young Latin Americans to Cuba using the cover of health and civic programs to provoke political change, a clandestine operation that put those foreigners in danger even after a U.S. contractor was hauled away to a Cuban jail.
Beginning as early as October 2009, a project overseen by the U.S. Agency for International Development sent Venezuelan, Costa Rican and Peruvian young people to Cuba in hopes of ginning up rebellion.
It's bad enough that the CIA used a hepatitis screening program in Pakistan as a ruse to gather DNA evidence in the hunt for Osama bin Laden, resulting in an actual outbreak of polio in that country when the fraudulence was exposed and citizens refused to avail themselves of legitimate vaccination programs.In one case, the workers formed an HIV-prevention workshop that memos called "the perfect excuse" for the program's political goals - a gambit that could undermine America's efforts to improve health globally.
But this operation in Cuba is even worse, because the Obama administration has exploited unqualified students for use as agitators and undercover agents for purposes of regime change. Not to nab a terrorist, but to foment the overthrow of a legitimate leftist government in order to make that part of the world safe for ravenous capitalism.
And now that the White House's cynical ploy has been exposed, it might even have succeeded in making Cuban youths think twice about getting tested for HIV.
And to add insult to unthinkable injury, the administration paid its democracy mules sub-minimum wage. It even made their relatives unwitting couriers of American cash.
Then again, these adolescent agents are not exceptional Americans. They will not be allowed anywhere near Obama's vaunted "opportunity ladders" even if they work hard and play by the rules. They got little to no job training.They are from some of the same poor drug and gang-infested, CIA-destabilized regions from which tens of thousands of other youths are fleeing for their very lives. They are, therefore, highly expendable and exploitable. Obama used them the same way unscrupulous con artists advertise summer jobs in which naive kids end up getting dumped into cities far from their homes to sell magazines door to door.
In all, nearly a dozen Latin Americans served in the program in Cuba, for pay as low as $5.41 an hour.
The Cuban operation is part of a shadowy foreign policy which allows the government to partner with so-called "aid" agencies as cover for its coups and other mischief. It works the same way as the outsourced torture contracts. It allows for arms-length immoral transactions and plausible deniability when things go awry.The AP found USAID and its contractor, Creative Associates International, continued the program even as U.S. officials privately told their government contractors to consider suspending travel to Cuba after the arrest of contractor Alan Gross, who remains imprisoned after smuggling in sensitive technology.
The use of callow youths as spies and their placement into dangerous situations is a new low, even for this White House. And it was only a couple of days ago that, with Obama's bland admission that "we tortured some folks" and that he had only outlawed "some" of the torture techniques, I thought I'd seen it all.
I was wrong. Now he can add labor rights abuse (and depending on the spies' ages, even child abuse) and a potential new AIDS epidemic to his list of accomplishments. Why do I keep thinking of Orson Welles as Harry Lime in "The Third Man?" Oh yeah... the polio vaccine scam and the memorable scene of the exploited kids in the hospital beds.
Creative Associates (a name more than creepy enough for a Graham Greene spy thriller) does blandly admit, right on its web-page, that its alleged mission of global HIV eradication has plenty of ulterior, free-market motives (Tell-tale Orwellian weasel words are in my bold):
For over a decade, Creative has served as an implementing partner for HIV and health interventions worldwide. Creative works with local communities as primary platforms for development interventions in health, HIV prevention, literacy, national stabilization, elections, life skills, and capacity building often leveraging schools and their unique reach into those societies. Throughout its efforts, Creative remains committed to the “whole child.” We bring capacity in each area relevant for a child’s development and growth and throughout the life cycle: literacy and cognitive development; health and well-being; economic security; and a safe and secure environment. This holistic approach fundamentally recognizes the community’s role and impact on children’s development.
In his World AIDS Day 2012 address, President Barack Obama declared that “we stand at a tipping point in the fight against HIV/AIDS, and working together, we can realize our historic opportunity to bring that fight to an end.” Creative is committed to contributing to the reality of an AIDS-free generation through its work -- promoting HIV prevention in communities and schools, supporting access to care and treatment services, and improving economic livelihoods through partnerships and linkages.
Creative’s keen sensitivity to local culture gives us intimate insight we apply to develop and integrate customized technical solutions to build country capacity, scale evidence-based technical strategies, promote gender equality, and ensure program sustainability. Creative incorporates monitoring and evaluation metrics into programs from inception to measure accurate outcomes, foster transparency, and increase sustainability. Our sustained commitment to health and HIV interventions has grown from the meaningful opportunity to save mothers and children, foster an AIDS-free generation, and ultimately support people around the world to better their lives.That last paragraph, by its very banality, is the most cynically telling of all. It jibes so conveniently with the neoliberal "empowerment of women" movement which gives cover to so much of the American meddling abroad. How using the young as spies promotes "gender equality" is anybody's guess. But it's worth noting that Hillary "It Takes a Village" Clinton was secretary of state when this whole regime change fraudulent HIV initiative was dreamed up shortly after Obama took office and promised a better relationship with Cuba.
Creative Associates itself was founded by a female "venture philanthropist." M. Charito Kruvant was recently named among Washington's "100 Most Powerful Women."
Her agency was also behind the fake Cuban Twitter scam revealed by the AP earlier this year. A longer version of the article linked above can be found here. (One young Costa Rican operative tracked down by AP reporters is not talking, having signed a "nondisclosure" agreement with the US Government on the illegal operation.)
As Moon of Alabama observes, "This only shows again why every nation on this world must distrust ANY word that comes out of official Washington. The leaders from African countries who are just now visiting Washington should keep the Cuban example in mind when Obama tries to charm them into U.S. dependency. None of his words can be trusted or be accepted as having any real meaning."
When there's money to be made, particularly at the expense of the desperate and the marginalized, there is no limit to the depravity, newly euphemized as "venture philanthropy" to disguise its innate ugliness. Money begets power begets more money begets more power. Too much is never quite enough when expansion is the only goal.
And as Hannah Arendt noted in her seminal work on the subject, the unhealthy mixture of superfluous (excess) capital and superfluous human beings is always a recipe for totalitarian disaster.