The US government quietly spends millions of dollars supporting anti-Castro dissidents and seeking to topple governments in other countries. The money
is distributed through the U.S.-financed National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and USAID. Hundreds of thousands in cash go directly to individuals.
NED is alleged to have supported groups opposed to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
The U.S. government has been quietly sending hundreds of thousands of dollars to activists seeking to undermine President Fidel Castro's one-party
state, according to documents and interviews.
The cash assistance is being channeled through the U.S.-financed National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and pays more than two dozen freelance writers
for a Miami-based Web site that posts articles critical of the Cuban government. ...The cash also supports opposition figures, human-rights activists,
and political prisoners and their families...
The cash payments comprise only a small part of President Bush's intensified campaign to squeeze the Castro regime through the tightening of trade
sanctions and increased material support for opposition activists. Yet even some supporters of Bush's approach say that providing cash to dissidents
gives ammunition to Cuban officials who denounce the opposition as "mercenaries" for the U.S.
Christopher Sabatini, NED's director for Latin America and the Caribbean, argued the payouts to Cubans reflect the organization's support for
democracy in many nations.
Since 2000, the NED has allocated about $4.9 million to its Cuba program, financing about a dozen groups annually. ...Sabatini said about 20 percent
of the NED's assistance to Cuba reaches the island in cash, primarily to support the work, training and travel of activists. The NED's Cuba budget
is scheduled to double in the next fiscal year to about $2 million.
Two of the primary Cuba-related groups handling the NED's cash payments are CubaNet, a Florida-based Web site that publishes the work of freelancers,
and the Center for a Free Cuba, a Washington group led by anti-Castro activist Frank Calzon.
The two groups also receive USAID funding. Calzon's organization has taken in more than $5 million in recent years and CubaNet more than $1.3
million, according to USAID figures.
NED already is embroiled in a dispute over its alleged support for groups opposed to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, a fiery populist increasingly
at odds with the United States. During the run-up to last year's presidential recall referendum in Venezuela, Chavez charged that NED-financed groups
were conspiring with the Bush administration to defeat him.
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This should come as no surprise to anyone. Still, it is illuminating to have some names and figures released.
Odd that this administration finds it essential to spend tax dollars to topple other governments while Americans who can't afford healthcare to
bankrupt, and American children go hungry.
[edit on 23-2-2005 by soficrow]