Cuba calls on US to halt 'subversive' political missions

Updated: 2014-08-07 03:01


  Print Mail Large Medium  Small 分享按钮 0

The Cuban government called on Washington to halt hostile "covert" operations against it in the wake of information that an Obama administration program secretly sent young Latin Americans to Cuba on politically motivated missions.

A top Cuban diplomatic official, Josefina Vidal, referred on Tuesday to an investigation by The Associated Press revealing that the US government "has not desisted in its hostile and interventionist plans against Cuba" but seeks to "create destabilizing situations to provoke changes in our political order''.

Vidal demanded that the US "cease, once and for all, all its subversive, illegal and covert actions against Cuba'' in a statement e-mailed to the AP. She noted the US government has "shamelessly acknowledged'' running the program.

The project, funded and overseen by the US Agency for International Development, deployed nearly a dozen young people from Latin America to Cuba to recruit political activists under the guise of health and civic projects. The AP's investigation found that the operation put the foreigners in danger not long after a US contractor was arrested in Cuba for doing secretive work.

The Obama administration this week defended its use of an HIV-prevention workshop for its Cuban democracy-promotion efforts, and disputed that the project was a front for political purposes. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the program "enabled support for Cuban civil society, while providing a secondary benefit of addressing the desires Cubans express for information and training about HIV prevention''.

A Costa Rica-based subcontractor involved in the project said on Monday that his organization didn't seek to destabilize Cuba politically.

"We want to deny that there were clandestine intentions to generate political involvement,'' said Fernando Murillo, the head of Fundacion Operacion Gaya Internacional.

Still, public health advocates and US lawmakers were critical of the administration's use of an HIV-prevention workshop to advance a political agenda, saying such clandestine efforts put health programs at risk around the world.

Senator Patrick Leahy, a Democrat who leads a panel that oversees USAID's spending, said Monday it would be "worse than irresponsible'' if the agency "concocted'' an HIV-prevention workshop for political purposes.

InterAction, an alliance of global non-governmental aid groups, called such a use of an HIV workshop "unacceptable''. The US government, it said, "should never sacrifice delivering basic health services or civic programs to advance an intelligence goal''.

The AP's investigation found the program was deliberately aimed at recruiting a younger generation of opponents to Cuba's Castro government, although it's illegal in the country to work with foreign democracy-building programs. Documents prepared for the USAID-sponsored program called the HIV workshop the "perfect excuse'' to conduct political activity.

Leahy said in response to the AP's findings: "It may have been good business for USAID's contractor, but it tarnishes USAID's long track record as a leader in global health''.