Recent Posts

April 16, 2014 |

SARAH STEPHENS: USAID’s Twitter Trojan Horse

More than a week after the story broke, why are we still talking about USAID and the Cuban Twitter scandal? Why has it struck such a chord? Think about the Elián González saga from fifteen years ago. He was the six year old boy plucked from the ocean after the… read more »

April 11, 2014 |

CUBA CENTRAL News Blast: ZunZuneo – Is it Obama’s Elián moment?

We return to the Cuban Twitter story and begin with one remarkable, but obvious fact.  More than a week after the story broke people are still talking about it.  The obvious question: is why has it struck a chord? It reminds us of the Elián González matter, over a decade… read more »

April 11, 2014 |

Alan Gross Suspends Hunger Strike at his Mother’s Urging, Announces There Will Be Further Protests to Come

  For Immediate Release April 11, 2014 Alan Gross Suspends Hunger Strike at his Mother’s Urging, Announces There Will Be Further Protests to Come   From prison in Havana, Alan Gross spoke to his attorney, Scott Gilbert, and declared that he is suspending his fast as of today. He dictated… read more »

April 8, 2014 |

President Obama: Answer Alan Gross’s Hunger Strike with Real Negotiations and by Ending Regime Change Programs

Alan Gross, imprisoned in Cuba since 2009, has gone on a hunger strike to protest inaction by the U.S. and Cuban governments in resolving his case.  His hunger for freedom is now more than symbolic, but given substance by his refusal to eat. We call on President Obama to end… read more »

April 4, 2014 |

CUBA CENTRAL Newsblast: Snapchat, ZunZuneo, and Cuba as an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Living as we do in the “Snapchat” – or even ZunZuneo - era, where the present can disappear or be buried by new material in 1-10 seconds, history may not stand a chance.  This is not a new phenomenon.  In 1999, the American Council of Trustees and Alumni did a survey which revealed that seniors at… read more »

April 4, 2014 |

Dr. Louis A. Pérez Jr. – “Cuba as an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder”

Living as we do in the “Snapchat” era, where the present can disappear in 1-10 seconds, history may not stand a chance. This is not a new phenomenon. In 1999, the American Council of Trustees and Alumni did a survey which revealed that seniors at 55 leading colleges and universities were more familiar with Snoop Dogg (98%) than with James Madison’s role in writing the U.S. Constitution (23%). Even if Snoop’s numbers have drooped in the intervening fifteen years, it’s hard to imagine that Madison’s have seen much of a revival. If the present disappears in an instant, history may not stand a chance.

April 4, 2014 |

Sign the Petition! New revelation on USAID democracy promotion in Cuba shows efforts are dangerous, wasteful, and lack transparency

The Associated Press broke news yesterday that the U.S. Agency for International Development created a Twitter-like text messaging service in order to collect the phone numbers of Cuban citizens, without informing them of the intent of the service, and then send out messages meant to undermine Cuba’s government and stir unrest on the island.

April 3, 2014 |

PRESS RELEASE: The Center for Democracy in the Americas: New revelation on USAID democracy promotion in Cuba shows efforts are dangerous, wasteful, and lack transparency

WASHINGTON, April 3, 2014 — USAID’s version of Twitter – designed to incite protests in Cuba – had very real and counterproductive consequences. Without telling the Cubans who used and shared it, this effort put Cubans at risk; it gave tens of thousands of dollars in text fees to the Cuban government it was trying to undermine; and because it was concealed from the Congress and the US public, information about the waste and deceit was secret until the program failed and disappeared.

April 3, 2014 |

Associated Press: US secretly created ‘Cuban Twitter’ to stir unrest

Associated Press – In July 2010, Joe McSpedon, a U.S. government official, flew to Barcelona to put the final touches on a secret plan to build a social media project aimed at undermining Cuba’s communist government. McSpedon and his team of high-tech contractors had come in from Costa Rica and Nicaragua,… read more »

April 2, 2014 |

El Salvador Update: March 2014 / Informe mensual El Salvador, marzo 2014

Funes Ceren

Two weeks of tension and uncertainty followed El Salvador’s shockingly close March 9th presidential runoff election. The ARENA party refused to accept the results, charging systematic fraud and bias on the part of election officials. The party mounted a series of street demonstrations and filed multiple legal appeals before the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) and the Supreme Court, demanding a total recount.

April 2, 2014 |

Rubén Zamora: Making the transition from guerrilla to president

Rubén Zamora, Miami Herald - On March 9, the Salvadoran people elected Salvador Sánchez Cerén as president of El Salvador in an election that reflected the maturity of our democracy and the progress of our society since the end of the civil war in 1992. The election was free, transparent and… read more »

April 1, 2014 |

Nicolás Maduro: Venezuela: A Call for Peace

Nicolás Maduro, The New York Times – The recent protests in Venezuela have made international headlines. Much of the foreign media coverage has distorted the reality of my country and the facts surrounding the events. Venezuelans are proud of our democracy. We have built a participatory democratic movement from the… read more »

March 28, 2014 |

CUBA CENTRAL Newsblast: The Hardliners Get Confused at the U.S. Capitol

The strangest thing happened this week in the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere. The hardliners put together a hearing, which they designed as a platform for criticizing Cuba and other governments they oppose in the region, but they ran it under a banner with a most unexpected… read more »

March 28, 2014 |

Collin Laverty: U.S.-Cuba people-to-people exchanges effective

Collin Laverty, Miami Herald — I was disappointed to see the way my presentation at the recent Cuban Americans for Engagement conference was presented in the March 16 story Groups gather to push for stronger ties between Cuba, U.S. The story said that people-to-people exchanges “have not worked out.” However, I… read more »

March 21, 2014 |

CDA Conference Call on Venezuela, featuring Prof. Dan Hellinger and Prof. Alejandro Velasco

On March 6, 2014, the Center for Democracy in the Americas hosted a conference call regarding ongoing protests and violence in Venezuela. The topics discussed on this call were: The problems posed by the U.S. media coverage of the conflict; A comparison with other instances in the past 15 years… read more »

March 14, 2014 |

CUBA CENTRAL Newsblast: The Download on Cuba and the News Blast

This week, the News Blast is bursting with developments in Cuba and U.S. policy. We imagine you want to get to it, so we’ll keep our introductory remarks - harrumph - relatively brief. Earlier this week, we came across a well-worn speech delivered by President John F. Kennedy at the University of… read more »

March 14, 2014 |

Salvadoran Presidential Election: Official Results Next Week, FMLN Promises an Inclusive Government

El Salvador’s 2014 presidential election will be remembered for setting at least three historic precedents: the election of the first former guerrilla combatants as president and vice-president, the closest results in history, and ARENA’s unparalleled surge of support between the first and second electoral rounds, which nearly returned their party… read more »

March 10, 2014 |

No Winner in Salvadoran Runoff Election: Tensions rise with final count scheduled Monday

Just hours after polls closed on Sunday, March 9th, the Electoral Tribunal (TSE) counted over 99% of the votes in El Salvador’s presidential election runoff, but was unable to declare a winner. Of the nearly three million votes cast, the governing FMLN party was ahead of conservative ARENA by about… read more »

March 7, 2014 |

CUBA CENTRAL Newsblast: Let the ends justify the means

“That is an absolute lie.” This is what Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart told the New York Times, after its correspondent, Damien Cave said “clearly a majority” of the American public supports a change in policy in Cuba. Except it’s not a lie. The American public made up its mind years ago that… read more »

March 4, 2014 |

Damien Cave: As Cuba’s Economy Opens a Bit, Some Who Fled Castro Return to Help

Damien Cave, The New York Times — The business ideas have ranged from a bikini franchise to a peanut farm, restaurants, and design firms for software and home interiors. But even more novel than the pitches — in a country where entrepreneurship used to be illegal — is the financial… read more »

February 28, 2014 |

CUBA CENTRAL Newsblast: Freedom for One?

After more than 15 years behind bars, a Cuban named Fernando González was released from prison on Thursday and immediately turned over to immigration officials.  A member of the “Cuban Five,” Mr. González returned home today to his family. While we celebrate his freedom, it makes no sense to us… read more »

February 25, 2014 |

Chris Arsenault: Armed Venezuelans fear ‘Syria scenario’

Chris Arsenault, Al Jazeera –  A former socialist guerrilla whose brother died battling Venezuela’s dictator in the 1950s, Adicea Castillo knows the far-left well. But the current political climate – where armed pro-government collectives are asserting themselves in poor neighbourhoods – is too much for the aging radical. “This is… read more »

February 21, 2014 |

CUBA CENTRAL Newsblast: The Post, The Times, and the Cuba Consular Service Cut Off

This week, it seemed like the train left the tracks at the Washington Post. In its editorial, “Cuba’s changes are no more than window dressing,” the editorial board’s routine scolding of Cuba’s government became unusually frenzied when it compared the digital alteration of pictures, removing a hearing aid normally seen… read more »

February 21, 2014 |

El Salvador: Second Round Polling Gives FMLN Huge Lead

With just 16 days until the run-off election for the Salvadoran presidency, the FMLN’s lead continues to increase. In the eight polls conducted since the February 2nd election the margin of victory varies from 10 – 18%. By law, February 21st is the final date for publication of poll results…. read more »

February 20, 2014 |

Caracas Connect, February 2014 Report

So far, 2014 has brought little more than a further deterioration of the center in Venezuelan politics. The weekend of February 12 saw the eruption of the most serious political violence in the country since the short-lived coup against Hugo Chávez in 2002. Two student demonstrators and a prominent pro-government activist died.

February 14, 2014 |

CUBA CENTRAL Newsblast: As Manuel and Lisandra Plan Wedding, Hardliners wonder “Where is the love?”

We asked our friend Yamina Vicente, who runs Decorazón, an event-planning firm in Havana, if her business benefits from our Hallmark card-driven “holiday,” Valentine’s Day. She wrote us back: February 14th is a date chosen by many couples to celebrate their marriage. In Cuba, many couples fill spaces with flowers, music, and… read more »

February 14, 2014 |

El Salvador’s Presidential Election to the Second Round / Las elecciones presidenciales en El Salvador con miras a una segunda vuelta

n February 2nd, Salvadorans cast ballots in the country’s fifth presidential election since the end of its civil war (1980-1992). The FMLN, the former guerrilla organization, fell just 26,000 votes (or 1.07%) short of obtaining the 50.1% support it needed for a first-round win. ARENA, the conservative party in power from 1989-2009, had a ten point lead in polls when Norman Quijano began his campaign, but the party and its nominee finished ten points behind the FMLN on Election Day.

February 13, 2014 |

Tim Padgett: America, Florida Want Cuba Policy Change Because They Want Change In Cuba

Tim Padgett, WLRN – A major poll released Monday confirms that most Americans, and especially Floridians, feel it’s time to normalize relations with communist Cuba after more than a half century of Cold-War rupture. But on the same day that the Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center of the Atlantic Council issued the poll,… read more »

February 7, 2014 |

CUBA CENTRAL Newsblast: ¡Azúcar!

A few years back, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen invited a Congressional reporter to observe her daily ritual of making Cuban coffee.  She percolated a pot of Café Bustelo, placed “a healthy amount of sugar,” in a separate cup, and then added “a few drops of coffee into the sugar.” She stirred… read more »

February 5, 2014 |

VIDEO: El Salvador 2014 Elections

Sarah Stephens, CDA’s Executive Director, and Linda Garrett, CDA’s senior policy analyst on El Salvador, led a delegation to observe last week’s elections in the country. There, they spoke with Oscar Mejia, member of gang Barrio 18 who has joined the gang truce effort. He spoke to CDA about his… read more »