Entre el 15 de septiembre de 2008 y el 31 de diciembre de 2009, bajo el manto de acciones humanitarias, la ONG española recibió 615.500 dólares del norteamericano Instituto Republicano Internacional, según publica la web de la organización conservadora.
La entidad española, apenas conocida y con escasísima membresía, tuvo como misión la capacitación técnica en el uso de comunicaciones e incrementar el apoyo internacional a las acciones en la calle.
En aquel momento los huracanes dejaron un panorama en la isla de viviendas arrasadas, afectaciones en la producción económica y a la generación de alimentos para la población.
Aquel contexto que puso al país en una difícil situación fue considerado por los analistas norteamericanos como favorable a sus intereses ante el posible descontento popular contra el gobierno cubano.
La entidad presidida por Ricardo Carreras, experto en comunicación política, creó a instancias del estadounidense Instituto Republicano Internacional la campaña “la solidaridad de viaje” para realizar visitas a la oposición cubana.
La SEC financió viajes para determinar en el terreno las necesidades operativas que pudieran tener estos grupos opositores y evaluar su nivel de desarrollo y estructura.
Estos viajes también sirvieron para identificar nuevos potenciales sujetos políticos y determinar sus necesidades de apoyo para maximizar el impacto internacional de sus actos públicos.
Los grupos de la sociedad civil elegidos por Washington para trabajar en el país caribeño fueron los sindicalistas, los periodistas y especialmente las mujeres y los jóvenes, según detalla el programa del proyecto.
La formación de estos grupos contó con la entrega de equipos informáticos y el apoyo a visibilizarlos en sus relaciones con la prensa, la mejora de materiales de márketing y su presencia online
El informe reconoce entre algunos de los problemas de estos grupos la falta de organización y objetivos claros en sus acciones, al igual que el desconocimiento de la población cubana sobre su existencia.
En 14 viajes, aparentemente turísticos, los organizadores programaron la entrega a grupos opositores de 15 ordenadores portátiles, 22 videocámaras y 22 cámaras fotográficas.
Tras alguno de estos viajes la ONG con sede en Zaragoza publicó el libro “Hablan las Damas” de las periodistas María Ángeles Altozano y Rosa María Espinosa, compuesto por entrevistas a miembros de las Damas de Blanco.
La huella de la USAID
Estados Unidos en su estrategia contra el gobierno cubano considera como factor decisivo para el cambio político en el país, el relevo generacional de la dirección histórica de la Revolución.
Los analistas estadounidenses consideran vital situar a los grupos creados por ellos en buena posición ante el miedo que en esa Cuba post comunista escalen a los puestos claves de la Administración los actuales cuadros intermedios.
El Instituto Republicano Internacional recibió el 27 de agosto de 2008 de la Agencia de los Estados Unidos para el Desarrollo Internacional (USAID) un contrato de dos millones de dólares para la aceleración de la transición a la democracia en Cuba. Un año después incrementó la financiación por un valor de medio millón de dólares, según datos oficiales de la web gubernamental www.usaspendig.gov, la cual publicó varios contratos de los programas de la USAID.
Ante el escaso éxito de estas operaciones contra Cuba, un diplomático centroeuropeo, que por razones obvias quiere permanecer en el anonimato, en conversación con este periódico se preguntaba ¿a dónde va el dinero? Las organizaciones que trabajan para la USAID han sido reiteradamente acusadas por el gobierno cubano de “fachadas” de la inteligencia norteamericana para operar en países contrarios a la orientación política de Washington.
Recientemente la justicia cubana condenó a 15 años de prisión al contratista estadounidense Alan Gross, por delitos contra la “independencia y la integridad del territorio” al ser sorprendido repartiendo entre la oposición teléfonos satelitales y material informático.
PROGRAMA DEL IRI A TRAVÉS DE SOLIDARIDAD ESPAÑOLA CON CUBA
PROGRAMA DEL IRI A TRAVÉS DE SOLIDARIDAD ESPAÑOLA CON CUBA.
Attachment A – Program Description
Foreign Sub recipient: Solidaridad Española con Cuba Dates of Project: September 15, 2008, December 31, 2009 Amount Requested: $615,500
Together IRI and Solidaridad Española con Cuba (SEC) will implement support activities designed to refine and expand the pro-democracy movement within Cuba, as well as independent Cuban civil society, under these new circumstances. With that purpose, we will design, develop and implement demand-driven, targeted training to several opposition and civil society groups -women, youth, trade union and journalists-, to enhance their skills and capacities. We will also increase their IT capacities by delivering IT equipment to them and instructing them how to use it. Finally, we will also increase their internal and external outreach and visibility by supporting their press relations, improving their marketing materials and enhancing their online presence.
Cuba has been suffering the totalitarian rule of charismatic dictator Fidel Castro for almost fifty years, since the triumph of the revolution in 1959. As such, it is a non-democratic exception within the community of democratic countries of Hispanic culture. This anomaly is explained by complex factors, such as the historic support of the Soviet Union, but after five decades, it may end soon. The regime is a personal dictatorship. Therefore, the approaching death of the ailing dictator is expected to be a major catalyst of change. His brother Raúl lacks his charismatic legitimacy.
Furthermore, the considerable damages caused by recent hurricanes Gustav and Ike put the country in a crisis situation. The government faces the daunting task of rebuilding thousands of houses destroyed by the hurricanes. Let us remember that housing was already a considerable problem in Cuba before these natural disasters. In addition, the hurricanes have also devastated a large number of crop fields and affected the tobacco production process. Thus, it has further reduced the capacity of the government to feed the Cuban population and generate income abroad. The regime is arguably at is weakest point in history, because it as facing a permanent crisis without a charismatic leader to solve it.
In this favourable context, the Cuban opposition needs to be prepared to promote real changes that gear the country towards a functioning market economy and a working democracy. Once these changes do happen, Cuban civil society groups needs to make sure they play a role in a new, viable, democratic system, instead of being left out by a new oligarchy of post-communists barons that rule over an authoritarian post-communist regime, as has been the case in some of the successor countries of the former Soviet Union.
So far, we have concentrated previous support activities in assisting two groups:
Womens Group We have been supporting and training one particular women group with very good results. Their recent progress has been impressive. They are already at an advanced level of development, with a clear identity, the tools and knowledge to move ahead and a concrete and successful campaign. We will continue to support this group and will identify any emerging women groups potentially suited for training, because women have been traditionally underrepresented in the Cuban opposition and it is important to integrate them as a key element of the opposition and civil society.
Youth Groups Youth is often the dominant component of pro-democracy movements. This was the case in Serbia, with the Otpor -resistance- movement, as well as Georgia, Ukraine and Lebanon. Recent and reliable studies on Cuban public opinion show that Cuban youth are particularly disaffected with the Communist dictatorship. Young Cubans support change and democracy even more than the average. Paradoxically, though, young Cubans are currently underrepresented in the opposition. It is logical then to think that Cuban opposition groups made of youth and targeting the youth have a lot of growth potential.
We have supported in the past one youth group. This group has a clear identity and is developing the tools and knowledge required to advance their objectives. They still lack a clear focus and a well-defined campaign.
We have identified another youth group that has the potential to become a partner. We will explore the possibility of supporting this second group also and identify any emerging youth group with potential for cooperation.
Equally, independent journalists and related groups are the future journalists of a free Cuba and should not be neglected. They already play a significant role denouncing human rights violations and government abuses against Cubans. Finally, independent trade union activists have a large potential for growth and are the future trade union leaders of a free Cuba.
Nonetheless, all these groups share considerable problems: some of them lack a clear identity, purpose and objectives, many lack organizational and technical skills and capacities as well as basic IT equipment. Most of them lack a clear, well focused campaign and are still relatively unknown in Cuba and abroad.
III. SUBGRANT OBJECTIVES The objectives of the Subgrant are:
1) To strengthen supported groups and help them reach a more advanced stage of development by improving their motivation, efficiency, strategic focus; social research and message delivery capacities; political communications, mobilization, organizational and technical skills as well as their internal and external impact and outreach
2) To increase their access to communications technologies as well as their technical capacity to use them
3) To increase the salience and visibility domestically and abroad of supported pro-democracy groups
IV. SUBGRANT ACTIVITIES
1.1) Assessment trips
1.2) To identify new partner groups and their needs:
- Journalism/Human Rights Reporting
- Trade Unions
In addition to these areas, we will also seek to identify emerging groups that are in a very early stage of development but have the potential of becoming relevant in the opposition or civil society. We will also explore potential niches for the possibility of contributing to the creation of completely new groups.
2.1) Training using existing training fields 2.2) Development of additional training fields/training materials
2.3) Selection and preparation of trainers and trips 2.4) Training trips 2.5) Briefing, debriefing and reports
3) IT EQUIPMENT DELIVERY
We will also make sure support equipment reaches the supported groups. We intend to deliver to them fifteen (15) laptop computers, twenty-two (22) video cameras and twenty-two (22) digital cameras
V. IT Equipment Delivery Trips For that purpose, we will coordinate a total of fourteen (14) IT equipment delivery trips. Seven of them (7) will consist of trips of two people and other seven (7) will consist of trips of individuals.
VI. ORGANIZATIONAL BACKGROUND
Solidaridad Española con Cuba (SEC) is a non-profit NGO founded in early 2005 by a group of young Spaniards with the purpose of supporting Cuban democracy activists, political prisoners and their families, as well as the emerging Cuban civil society. Since its foundation, Solidaridad Española con Cuba has actively supported several democracy groups in the island.
Training and support Together with IRI, SEC has successfully undertaken several training activities in the closed society. SEC has been supporting two groups of the Cuban opposition/civil society -one women group and one youth group- providing them targeted, demand-driven training. Training fields have included political research training -polls-, message delivery and communications training, journalist skills training and economic training.
SEC developed specific, targeted training materials for these trainings. They are state-of-the-art quality documents and also take into consideration the particular circumstances of the closed society. The trainings were highly successful and often had considerable impact. They increased the capacities and skills of the supported groups and had very positive repercussions.
IT equipment In addition to training, throughout time, SEC has also successfully delivered a considerable amount of IT equipment to these two supported groups. In the past we have also delivered support material to other networks.
Other activities SEC successfully launched in 2006 a full-fledged “solidarity travel” marketing campaign encouraging people that travel to Cuba to add a solidarity dimension to their visits by supporting the Cuban opposition, political prisoners and civil society. The campaign received a considerable amount of coverage by the international and Spanish media. It included the publication of the innovative book Solidarity Guide of Cuba. This book has been translated into English, French, Polish, German and Italian, by different NGOs and organizations that are distributing it. Tens of thousands of people have downloaded it for free in the different versions -over 20,000 just in Spanish. As a continuation of this campaign, SEC has recently launched several websites that provide information about Cuban opposition and political prisoners, but also simultaneously provide general information about Cuba -which attracts web surfers.
The NGO especially supports in different ways the group of Cuban political prisoners Damas de Blanco (Ladies in White) in different ways, including the management and updating of their official website www.damasdeblanco.co -which was created by SEC.
Executive Board and Staff SEC’s Executive Board is comprised of a President (Ricardo Carreras Lario), a Vicepresident (Juan Fauquier), a Secretary/Treasurer (Fernando Martínez), and Executive Board Members (Fernando Terrón and Carlos Vidal). In order to maintain SEC’s politically neutral position, board members include businessmen, professors, and independent consultants who are not affiliated with any political parties.
The President of SEC, Ricardo Carreras is an expert in political communication. He is a professor at the Universidad Complutense and the President of a consulting firm. He will be the executive director of all program activities and will dedicate half of his working time to the Subgrant, including general oversight and trips to third countries. Other members of the Board will assist with conceptualizing and planning program activities to ensure they are in line with the organization’s main goals and objectives.
SEC staff members include María Ángeles Altozano and María Rosa Espinosa, both experienced journalists. They work at the Communications department. Their responsibilities include activities described in 2) and 4), including the development of training material and support activities such as writing of press releases and updating web content. María works at the Madrid office and María Rosa at the Saragossa office.
In addition, for the purpose of the Subgrant, we are intending to hire from the beginning a Program Assistant. She/He will work between 75% and 100% of his/her time in activities related with the Subgrant. He or she will assist preparing the financial and narrative reporting related with the Subgrant. She/He will also work in the accounting/administrative areas. She/he is likely to be at the Saragossa office. We intend to hire one intern to work 100% in activities related with the Subgrant, assisting in different areas.
From its foundation, SEC headquarters are in the Spanish city of Saragossa (Zaragoza), the home city of SEC President. SEC has here a large number of members. Nonetheless, media outlets, Cuba-related associations and contacts as well as potential trainers are concentrated in Madrid. For that reason, SEC opened a small office in Madrid early this year. It is important, to maximize the efficiency of the support to the partner groups, to keep both small offices in Saragossa and Madrid.