Reports have surfaced that for more than two years, a U.S. agency has been invading Cuba’s underground hip-hop scene and recruiting rappers in order to spark a movement against the government, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.
The premise was to use Cuban rappers “to break the information blockade,” according to documents, but so far it hasn’t been unsuccessful. Instead of overthrowing the government, the movement really only hurt the Cuban music culture. The government caught wind of this ploy and the documents show that on more than six occasions, Cuban authorities detained or interrogated people involved in the program, confiscating their computers and jeopardizing their safety.
Several big artists that U.S. Agency for International Development contractors tried to promote eventually either fled the country or stopped performing due to governmental pressures and fear of repercussions from the Cuban government.
In a statement, USAID denied that the campaign was a secret.
“Any assertions that our work is secret or covert are simply false,” USAID said in a statement Wednesday. They insisted that their programs intended to strengthen civil society “often in places where civic engagement is suppressed and where people are harassed, arrested, subjected to physical harm or worse.”
The program was described in documents tying Creative Associates International, a Washington, D.C. firm, to the movement, detailing that the contractor paid millions of dollars to undermine Cuba’s communist government. The thousands of pages of documents include contracts, emails, preserved chats, budgets, expense reports, power points, photographs and passports.
The program even included the creation of a “Cuban Twitter” and a program that sent Latin American youth to provoke protests, which included a front organization and a financial scheme to mask the USAID’s involvement in the movement.
“I never imagined that a program like this could exist,” said Silvio Rodriguez, Cuban musician, and leader of the nueva trova movement. “When you find out you could be surrounded by a conspiracy, it’s shocking.”
Of course there’s plenty of evidence that the US has embarked on numerous efforts over the years to overthrow the communist regime just 90 miles south of Miami, starting with the botched Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961 authorized by President Kennedy and using 1,400 anti-Castro Cuban exiles trained by the CIA. But that plan failed—the exiles were killed or captured by Castro’s military—as have many others over the years.