An omnivore named Bill Clinton was president, the Dallas Cowboys were Super Bowl champs and Fidel Castro was in power.
Some democracy activists complain that the United States isn’t doing enough to bring about change in Cuba, but others fault the U.S. strategy.
“The money that the United States has spent trying to overthrow the Cuban government has been money down the rat hole. The proof of it is that the Cuban government is still in place and all that money's been expended to no good end,” said William LeoGrande, a political science professor at American University in Washington, D.C.
Documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, and interviews with current and former aid recipients in Havana and Miami show that the U.S. government:
- Outsources most democracy-building activities to private contractors, hindering oversight and public accountability.
- Declares its democracy programs to be transparent while refusing to release key details of contractors’ activities in Cuba.
- Spends millions of dollars on program administration, travel, office rent and other expenses outside Cuba while many democracy activists – the ones most likely to wind up in prison - struggle to pay for bare necessities.
“U.S. Government programs, which enjoy broad bipartisan backing, support Cubans striving for basic human rights and fundamental freedoms,” USAID spokesman Kamyl Bazbaz said. “We are proud that the most recent GAO report recognized that the programs are well-managed, transparent, and achieving their objectives.”
|USAID headquarters in Washington, D.C.|
The GAO report did not examine whether the Cuba programs had any impact on the island.