Cuban rap group Los Aldeanos, along with other popular local acts, were reportedly funded by the U.S. government to spark a youth movement against Cuba’s government, reports the AP.
The secret program by USAID sent Serbian music promoter Rajko Bozic to infiltrate Cuba’s underground hip-hop scene to form a “socially-conscious youth” movement opposing the Communist authorities. He would recruit a group called Los Aldeanos and others, but failed to reveal his true intention of spreading democracy.
The operation lasted for over two years, in 2009-2011, but instead of sparking a revolution, it comprised an authentic source of protest from the country’s grasroots hip-hop scene.
According to the AP, Cuban authorities detained or interrogated musicians or USAID operatives at least six times during the two-year span, often confiscating their computers and thumb drives, which in some cases contained material linking them to USAID.
USAID has denied the allegations in the following statement: “Any assertions that our work is secret or covert are simply false.” Furthermore, they said its programs were aimed at strengthening civil society “often in places where civic engagement is suppressed and where people are harassed, arrested, subjected to physical harm or worse.”
Washington-based company, Creative Associates, had a multimillion-dollar contract to run the program, along with others, including a secret “Cuban Twitter”.