Friday, March 6, 2015

Applied Memetics expands its operation

BBG grants awarded to Applied Memetics
Applied Memetics, a federal contractor that began managing a team of journalists in Cuba in 2012, has expanded its operations and now handles 350 journalists on six continents.
The Broadcasting Board of Governors, or BBG, has awarded the company more than $1.4 million in grants since 2012, records show.
Dan Gabriel, a former covert action officer for the CIA, has guided the company through its successful expansion into such nations as Venezuela, Uzbekistan, Ukraine and Tunisia. (For background, see "Ex-CIA agent leads team of journalists in Cuba").
The company says it has the ability to "create content on massive scale and deliver it when and where consumers want it."
According to his WebStringers website, the company's projects include:
  • Havana Spring: Cuba is one of the countries that, due to strict authoritarianism and pressure from government on media, remain practically a secret state for the rest of the world.
  • Venezuela Encendida: After many years of living under government pressure, the people of Venezuela started protesting.
  • Central Asia Caravan: The five Central Asian republics - Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan – have become independent more than 20 years ago, after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Yet media remains under government pressure, and overall media resources are scarce.
  • Black Sea Crossroads: While Georgia is still rising up after the 2008 war with Russia, Ukraine is yet another victim of its imperial ambitions.
  • Central African Republic (CAR) Crisis. CAR_Crisis is a digital media platform covering the violence and unrest in the Central African Republic (CAR).
  • Maghreb Oasis: The Maghreb Region of North Africa countries - Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, Libya, and Mauritania – have recently been the epicenter for what became known as Arab Spring.

Money and a mission

Source: IRS Form 990
The Foundation for Human Rights in Cuba reported spending nearly $1.8 million in 2013, according to tax reports filed in 2014.
The Miami-based group's 2013 expenses included:
  • Other salaries and wages: $664,076
  • Payroll taxes: $51,946
  • Accounting: $11,000.
  • Other: $68,800.
  • Advertising and promotion: $286.
  • Information technology: $26,622.
  • Travel: $231,321.
  • Insurance: $77,304.
  • Aid, support, cash, equipment: $625,679.
  • Contracted services: $34,705.
  • Bank fees: $6,761.
  • Miscellaneous: $94.
Total: $1,798,594.
Total expenses in 2013: $1,798,594.
The organization's executive director, Yvonne Soler McKinley, reported a salary of $138,462.
Total revenue for 2013 was $1,703,786. That included $1,068,572 in government grants and $635,214 in other contributions and fundraising, including the group's Noche Tropical event.
The foundation reported receiving $4,167,087 in grants from 2009 to 2013. That included:

  • $342,680 in 2009
  • $503,120 in 2010
  • $791,303 in 2011
  • $1,119,920 in 2012
  • $1,410,064 in 2013
The foundation says its mission is:
To empower Cuban civil society to build a durable democracy in Cuba that is free of human rights violations by enhancing on-island civil society's awareness and effectiveness in nonviolent activism and by facilitating civic training materials, communication equipment, thematic 'know-how' manual (e.g. entrepreneurship, micro-financing, etc.) and financial support along with creating awareness and documenting, within the island and in the international community, human rights violations while collaborating with international and on-island nongovernmental organizations to provide for additional expertise and resources to provide humanitarian aid.
Related: "Democracy aid: Two radically different approaches"

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Lawyer: Fugitive is "an American dissident"

Charlie Hill
Police and state officials are "conspiring with bounty hunters to kidnap American political activists in Cuba," a New Mexico lawyer says.
Defense lawyer Jason Flores-Williams represents Charlie Hill, a former militant accused, along with two others, in the shooting of a New Mexico patrolman.
Hill and two other members of a militant group called New Afrika were traveling across New Mexico in a Ford Galaxie when Patrolman Robert Rosenbloom stopped them on Nov. 8, 1971.
Police say one of the three New Afrika members shot and killed Rosenbloom. The suspects hijacked a plane and fled to Cuba. (See "The Politics of American fugitives in Cuba."
Jason Flores-Williams
Flores-Williams describes Hill as "an American dissident" and says Hill's case "is about forcing America to confront its own history."
Flores-Williams writes:
For a black man in the 1960’s, America was a nightmare of harassment, subjugation and systemic oppression. The mere act of insisting on your dignity, working for the humanity of your people, meant that you would be labeled a militant, an extremist, a radical placed under constant surveillance, civil rights repeatedly violated by a country that was sending you to go die in Vietnam. For a black man who endured the 40’s and 50’s in America, there was no constitution, no due process, no equal protection of the law. You were three-fifths of a human being, and to have the audacity to insist on that last two-fifths meant being targeted by State Police, the Federal Bureau of Investigations and the infinite war chest of the United States Government.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Ritzy flight for Cuban deportees

Falcon 50 jet
Some 34,500 Cubans living in the United States face deportation orders. Sending them back to the island would likely cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars if the case of Abraham Gonzalez set the precedent.
In 2010, U.S. authorities deported Gonzalez to Cuba because of a drug-trafficking conviction in 1982, according to a Miami Herald article about his case in 2011.
The Herald said Gonzalez "was put on a plane to Cuba on June 17, 2010."

Contract record
Date of travel: June 17, 2010
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement hired Executive Fliteways, of Ronkonkoma, N.Y., to make an unscheduled charter flight to Havana, Cuba on June 17, 2010. I'll bet that's the plane that took Gonzalez back to Cuba.
The Herald said Gonzalez traveled with "several Mariel-era deportees."
Records show that ICE paid Executive Fliteways $44,538. Let's suppose there were three or four deportees, three or four federal agents, a pilot and a crew member. They could have climbed aboard Executive Fliteways' Hawker 800, which seats eight and costs $3,300 per hour.
Or maybe they flew aboard the Falcon 50, which seats nine and costs $4,300 per hour.
Whatever the case, Gonzalez traveled back to Cuba in style.
If the U.S. government were to send all 34,500 Cubans back to the island in similar fashion, the bill would be a cool $384 million.