Sunday, April 17, 2016

American embassy in Havana offers grants

The American and Cuban flags few side by side in August 2015
The U.S. Embassy in Havana is passing out grants ranging from $1,000 to $100,000 to individuals and organizations based in Cuba and non-profit organizations in the U.S.
Two project announcements, reproduced below, say that "projects that are inherently political in nature" aren't likely to be funded.
I doubt this means that the State Department and the Agency for International Development have ended other more expansive programs that are political. But the goal of these embassy projects is to strengthen U.S.-Cuba bilateral relations.
Applications for the embassy projects "will be considered on a rolling basis up until August 15, 2016," the announcement said.
All projects must start before Sept. 30. See below for details:

Large Grants Program Funding Opportunity

U.S. Department of State
U.S. Embassy Cuba Public Affairs Section

Announcement Type: Grant/Fixed Amount Award

Funding Opportunity Title: U.S. Mission to Cuba Public Affairs Large Grants Program Statement

Funding Opportunity Number: SCU-040-016-GR000

CFDA Number: 19.040 -- General Department of State Assistance

Date Opened: February 15, 2016

Closing Date and Time for Submission of Application: Proposals will be considered on a rolling basis up until August 15, 2016, 18:00 EDT, depending on funds availability. All projects must begin before September 30, 2016. This does not mean that the activity being funded must be completed before September 30, 2016, but that preparation for the activity must begin before that date.

AWARDS ARE SUBJECT TO AVAILABILITY OF FUNDS

Eligibility Category: Eligible institutions, organizations, and individuals will propose activities in Cuba pertaining to the arts, academia, sports, entrepreneurship, technology, education, and youth. Applicants include individuals and organizations based in Cuba and U.S. non-profit organizations.

Est. Project Start Date: Rolling, starting April 1, 2016

Est. Project End Date: January 1, 2017

Award Ceiling: U.S. $100,000.00

Award Floor: U.S. $15,000.00

Electronic Requirement: Yes (applications must be submitted by email to: CubaGrants@State.gov)

Monday, March 28, 2016

Castro to Obama: Butt out of Cuban politics

Fidel Castro. Photo: CubaDebate
When Barack Obama visited Cuba, he declared, "It is time, now, for us to leave the past behind."
Not so fast, Fidel Castro said in a column published today in Granma.
The former president's advice to Obama: Mind your own business.
Castro wrote:
My modest suggestion is to reflect and do not try now to develop theories about Cuban politics.
The past can't be forgotten, Castro wrote, "after a merciless blockade that has lasted almost 60 years."
He asked:
And those who have died in the mercenary attacks on ships and Cuban ports, an airliner full of passengers detonated in midair, mercenary invasions, multiple acts of violence and strength?
Castro said the Cuban people aren't about to give up "the rights and spiritual wealth earned with the development of education, science and culture."
He also said Cubans are fully capable of producing the "food and material wealth we need with the effort and intelligence of our people."
We do not need the empire to give us anything.

Friday, March 25, 2016

New State Department program targets Cuban youth

Barack Obama. By Ben Heine
Just three days after Barack Obama left Cuba, the State Department today announced a $753,989 community internship program targeting "young emerging leaders from Cuban civil society."
Non-profit organizations and educational institutions are invited to submit proposals. The deadline is May 20. The first awards are expected to be given in late July or early August.
The State Department's Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs plans to manage the program, aimed at financing two- to four-month professional development programs "which will fuel the participants’ development of action plans for nongovernmental community activities in Cuba."
The announcement states:
"Cuban civil society is not formed into well-established organizations that would typically be found in a society with a strong democratic tradition. Through participation in the program, participants will develop a set of leadership tools and skills to manage and grow civil society organizations that will actively support democratic principles in Cuba."
The announcement is below:

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The United States Department of State’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs (WHA) announces a Notification of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) to support the Community Internship Program for Cuban Youth. Subject to the availability of funds, WHA intends to issue an award in an amount not to exceed $753,989 in FY2015 Economic Support Funds for a project period of three years. The anticipated start date for this activity is August 2016 and WHA intends to support one award as a result of this NOFO.


Thursday, March 17, 2016

Barack Obama and the fate of Cuba

"Obama to Lay out Vision for Cuba in Historic Havana Speech." That was the headline of an Associated Press story published Wednesday. Here's how former Cuban diplomat Carlos Alzugaray reacted on Facebook:
Since when a President of a foreign government visits a country and explains to the people his vision for their country? Unless, of course, he considers himself the Emperor of the Universe with a right to sermon (sermonear) his listeners. There is another possibility, Obama is announcing his campaign to become President of Cuba en 2018.
Ben Rhodes, Obama's deputy national security adviser who has helped engineer the diplomatic rapprochement with Cuba, made clear in the story that Obama isn't trying to impose his will.
Ultimately he will make clear that that's for the Cuban people to decide. We have great confidence in the ability of the Cuban people to do extraordinary things.
Barack Obama speaks to Cuban President Raúl Castro from the Oval Office on Dec. 16, 2014. White House Photo by Pete Souza.
Yet even as Obama makes his historic journey to Cuba, others in the U.S. government remain intent on shaping the destiny of Cuba.
The U.S. Agency for International Development continues operating democracy programs in Cuba that the Cuban government regards as illegal. In January, USAID announced $6 million in grants to "provide humanitarian assistance to political prisoners and their families, and politically marginalized individuals and groups in Cuba."