In response to questions from U.S. Senator John Kerry's (D-MA) staff regarding USAID's Cuba democracy programs, the State Department has provided an excellent explanation of the goals and importance of these programs in dictatorships throughout the world.
Perhaps it's now time for Senator Kerry to explain his bias (and information hold) against these Cuba programs, while not holding similar and more costly programs in other dictatorships to the same single-handed obstructionism.
Here's the State Department's explanation (Along the Malecon has posted the entire Q and A):
Globally, in countries such as Belarus, Burma, North Korea, Cuba, Iran, Syria, and Zimbabwe, the U.S. Government responds to autocratic challenges by providing training, materials, and internet and radio platforms and organizational support for civic groups, networks and the media. Support for universal values is a cornerstone of the National Security Strategy of the United States. Those values include the rights of people to speak their mind, assemble without fear, and have a say in how they are governed.
In our solicitations' selection criteria, we place an emphasis on prior experience, at both the organizational and personnel level, in working in closed societies. We have found that prior experience in similar environments facilitates implementation since there is an understanding of the unique challenges likely to be encountered. We instruct our partners to tell Cuban recipients the source of the assistance when asked.
While seeking to advance and defend universal human rights principles, the USG develops and implements its democracy and governance strategies and program interventions according to the country's current democratic state, justice system institutions, human rights conditions, quality of governance, and other situational factors, while taking into account each country's unique history and culture. Still, within broad country categories there is consistency to our strategic approach.
In authoritarian and semi-authoritarian states, the major challenges facing the USG are how to create and maintain political and civic space in the face of a hostile regime that is prepared to use state resources to prevent criticism and meaningful reform. The strategy in these countries is to strengthen democracy and human rights activists outside government by working with democracy and human rights NGOs, watchdog groups, and independent media that are committed to democratic principles and value fundamental freedoms. Ensuring citizens' access to independent information sources is critical in these environments. When possible, the USG supports pockets of reform within government institutions, such as within the judicial branch, independent electoral or anti-corruption commissions, and/or local governments. The primary strategic focus of USG democracy and governance assistance in these countries is in the areas of human rights and civil society, especially independent media.
Within the foreign assistance domain, our top priority in authoritarian and semi-authoritarian states is invigorating an engaged and dynamic civil society, in particular journalists who represent the voice of civil society, and traditionally marginalized groups, such as minorities and women. For example to empower citizens in closed societies, DRL supports programs which aim to develop the necessary precursors for democratic reform by using new media to inform citizens about human rights and provide them a lens into the outside world. DRL also works to build the capacity of human rights activists, lawyers, and journalists to advocate for human rights by training them on how to defend their rights, including investigating and documenting human rights violations.
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05/29 - 06/05
- We Will Never Forget
- The Importance of Democracy Programs
- Farinas Begins New Hunger Strike
- Lula's (Inexcusable) Lost Opportunities
- Similar Regimes, Same Tactics
- On the Right Side of History (in Cuba and Burma)
- Six New Political Prisoners in One Week
- Better Dinner Guests for Secretary Clinton
- Dissidents Sentenced to Prison for Leaflets
- No More U.S.-Backed Dictators
- Now That's Courage
- Cuba's Lost Half-Century
- Young and Old Can't Find Raul's "Reforms"
- On This Memorial Day
- Female Democracy Activist Remains Missing
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