Saturday, November 24, 2012

$11 million for clandestine work in Costa Rica?

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In 2008, Creative Associates International received the first installment of what was to be a three-year $15,535,979 contract with the U.S. Agency for International Development.
Creative Associates had a delicate task: To set up a secret base in Costa Rica and run a program there to support democracy activists in Cuba.
The private, for-profit contractor, located at 5301 Wisconsin Ave., NW, Suite 700, was managing the program on behalf of the State Department's little-known Office of Transition Initiatives or OTI.

OTI's website states:
Seizing critical windows of opportunity, OTI works on the ground to provide fast, flexible, short-term assistance targeted at key political transition and stabilization needs.
Since 1994, OTI, part of USAID’s Bureau for Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance, has laid the foundation for long-term development in 31 conflict-prone countries by promoting reconciliation, jumpstarting local economies, supporting nascent independent media, and fostering peace and democracy through innovative programming.
It's not clear how Creative Associates' work contributed to the democracy movement in Cuba.
Federal records show that USAID paid the QED Group $121,673.18 to travel to Costa Rica to evaluate the program.
QED's initial contract ran from Sept. 29, 2010, to July 31, 2011, and was later extended to March 30, 2012.
By that time, records show, Creative Associates had moved its base of operations from Costa Rica to Washington, D.C.
I haven't found any records showing that Creative Associates received the full $15.5 million.
Contract documents I located show that the company received just $11 million, falling $4,365,308 short of the contract amount.
I wrote to USAID to ask for documents related to Creative Associates' work in Cuba and Costa Rica. The agency has not responded to my Freedom of Information Act request, which I filed 405 days ago.

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