We previously discussed how the CIA used a doctor in an international vaccination program to help locate Osama Bin Laden. The use of such a cover violated international agreement and led to other doctors being attacked or barred from areas as suspected CIA operatives. Under huge international pressure, the Obama Administration finally agreed not to use such programs as covers for the CIA this year. However, a new story alleges that the CIA used young, undertrained Latin Americans for spying in Cuba while working as part of a program funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in dealing with HIV prevention and other subjects.
The report states that USAID hired Creative Associates International, a Washington-based company, as part of a program targeting Cuba’s communist government. These kids from Venezuela, Costa Rica and Peru were paid as little as $5.41 an hour and given little training despite the risks. I am pretty sure that the contractors made a far greater profit.
What is striking is this program was launched after Obama personally heralded a “new beginning” with Cuba in allowing more exchanges and relations. We then used a USAID program to spy on Cuba.
USAID insists that the program “enabled support for Cuban civil society while providing a secondary benefit of addressing the desire Cubans expressed for information and training about HIV prevention.” However, the Associated Press reports that the young workers were meant to “identify potential social-change actors” and came close to blowing their covers and being arrested. The AP quotes the instructions as saying that “[a]lthough there is never total certainty, trust that the authorities will not try to harm you physically, only frighten you. Remember that the Cuban government prefers to avoid negative media reports abroad, so a beaten foreigner is not convenient for them.”
Once again, the alleged deception will hurt not just our efforts in areas like HIV prevention but those of other countries. Since we used foreign students, all such programs will become targets for suspicion and possible attacks. This is precisely what radicals want in countries where they seek to avoid Western influence and medicine.