|Jaime Suchlicki. Photo: YouTube|
University of Miami history professor Jaime Suchlicki led the program, which was financed by the U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID.
On Oct. 8, 2011, I asked USAID for contracts related to the program. The agency replied on Sept. 30, 2015, sending me 94 pages of documents.
Suchlicki proposed the program on Aug. 27, 1998, the documents show. He called it the Democratic Information Project. It was not his only enterprise. Suchlicki was also - and still is - director of the Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies, or ICCAS.
In December 2010, I reported that the U.S. government had given the institute more than $6 million since 2002, according to federal audits. (I wanted to update that number today, but the Federal Audit Clearinghouse was offline and isn't expected to be back up until December. Federal officials took the site down in July after activists linked to the group Anonymous hacked it and posted the phone numbers, usernames and passwords of thousands of users, Federal Times reported.)
Suchlicki received an additional $5,340,000 for Cuba On-Line from 1999 to 2007, contract records show. More details about that are below.
First, a word about Suchlicki. The professor drew some controversy earlier this month when the institute said it had received information that Gen. Leopoldo Cintra Frias, head of the Cuban Armed Forces, had visited Syria and was leading Cuban military personnel in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The institute said:
The Cuban military contingent will be primarily deployed in Syria manning Russian tanks provided to Assad by the Russians. It will also operate as a military force against ISIS and other opponents of the Assad regime.