Monday, April 21, 2014

ZunZuneo: Barely wet

A drop in the bucket. Photo: Wikipedia
The U.S. government reportedly spent $1.6 million on ZunZuneo, the so-called Cuban Twitter. But it isn't the amount that some people find troubling - it's the idea. American University Professor William LeoGrande said:
The problem is that the U.S. doesn’t think the law needs to be respected. It offends Cuba’s sense of sovereignty that the United States acts like its laws don’t matter.
LeoGrande and others gathered April 16 in Washington, D.C., and discussed ZunZuneo and other U.S. government-financed programs in Cuba. Capital News Service quoted Cuban Second Secretary Alexander Rodriguez Salazar as saying:
USAID is illegal in Cuba. Anything USAID does in Cuba is illegal because their sole presence in Cuba is not permitted.
USAID, or the U.S. Agency for International Development, operated ZunZuneo from 2010 to 2012. Democracy activists defend the project. They suggest that the ends justify the means. And they dismiss arguments about Cuban sovereignty, saying the socialist government has no legitimacy.
USAID began working in Cuba without the socialist government's permission in the 1990s. Some $240 million later, the Cuban government remains in power.

In February, I suggested that U.S. democracy aid to Cuba amounted to "migas" - breadcrumbs. (See "Aid to dissidents: A token gesture?").
What I meant was that the U.S. government spends very little on Cuba programs in the grand scheme of things.
I'd say it's a drop in the bucket, but it's not even that.
Here's how I figure:
The federal budget is some $2,920,026,000,000. A bucket contains 30,720 drops. One drop equals $95,052,929.
Democracy aid to Cuba is $17.5 million per year. That's 18 percent of a single drop.
So when someone complains democracy aid to Cuba is a drop in the bucket, you can tell them they're wrong.
It's even less.
It's not even a splish and less than a splash.
It's barely wet.
But it's more than enough to torpedo U.S.-Cuba relations.


Moses said...

There is a fundamental disagreement between those who support the Castro regime and those who do not. To be clear, to resist and possibly work toward regime change in Cuba is not anti-Cuban. It is clearly anti-Castro but may very well be argued to be pro-Cuban, depending on where your support lies. Programs like ZunZuneo and Commotion confront Castros laws but so what? If one supports regime change in Cuba, then it would be illogical to respect the very laws established by that regime to remain in power. What is confusing are those who say they support the sovereignty of the Cuban people and, in the same breath, continue to support the current dictatorship which denies the Cuban people their democratic right to elect the government of their choosing. If the US were developing programs to destabilize the democratically-elected government of a free people, then the criticisms of these kinds of programs would be valid. But efforts to support free and uncensored speech in Cuba should be applauded. It is not illegal to ignore an immoral government's laws.

alongthemalecon said...

Thanks for your comment, Moses. You are eloquent, as always.