Friday, September 30, 2011

276 days and counting

I am getting ready to file dozens of new Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, requests as part of an effort to better understand what becomes of millions of dollars that the State Department and USAID spend on democracy programs in Cuba.
As of today, it's been 276 days since I filed the first FOIA request, which the State Department is still processing.
See a counter that shows the elapsed time here.
Cuba Money Project FOIA Tracker

U.S. democracy programs in Cuba: Youth, new media are top priorities

777 pages
I've been digging through a 777-page stack of federal financial records to try to get a better understanding of U.S. spending on democracy programs in Cuba. The chart below shows the Top 10 recipients of funds based on the financial documents I have reviewed. (Download Excel file containing the Top 10 data. See a chart showing additional organizations and spending here).

The documents contain details of about $85 million in spending since 1997. The total spent was about $150 million, so you can see that this isn't a complete picture. I will revise the Top 10 list as I get better and more accurate information. For now, this is merely a snapshot of spending based on incomplete information.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Author: Damocles sword hangs over journalists in Cuba

No light at the end of the tunnel, at least for now
Radio Marti called earlier this week to ask if I'd take part in a discussion about what it's like to work as a correspondent in Cuba. So I joined host Amado Gil and Spanish journalist Vicente Botín on Tuesday's program. We talked mostly about the Cuban government's decision to revoke Mauricio Vicent's press accreditation.
Vicent, who writes for Spain's El Pais newspaper, has been a correspondent in Cuba for 20 years. I was surprised he lost his accreditation after so many years.