Cuba says U.S. created other 'Cuban Twitter' projects
By Marc Frank
HAVANA, April 6 (Reuters) - Cuba said on Sunday the United States continues to use social media to "subvert" the island's government and that the revelation this week of a U.S.-created, Twitter-like service for Cuba was just one of several examples.
The U.S. government has admitted it created a social media network called ZunZuneo, which takes its name from Cuban slang for the tweet of a hummingbird. It was revealed in a report by the Associated Press, which said ZunZuneo snared cell phone users to build a network whose goals included mobilizing demonstrations.
The program, built by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) using shell companies to hide U.S. government involvement, went dark in 2012 due to a lack of funds.
U.S. officials confirmed it on Thursday, calling ZunZuneo a "democracy promotion" program that was neither "secret" nor "covert" under the U.S. government's definitions of those terms.
"The surprising denunciations made recently in an investigation by the AP, about the existence for years of a secret project of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to create a supposed Cuban Twitter ... are scarcely the tip of the iceberg of a gigantic subversive campaign against Cuba," the Union of Young Communists' newspaper, Juventud Rebelde, reported on Sunday.
U.S. officials said the programs referred to by Juventud Rebelde had been publicly revealed since their inception and were merely an attempt to promote the free flow of information in a country where the state controls all the media.
The head of USAID, Rajiv Shah, is scheduled to testify before a Senate subcommittee on Tuesday. Though the hearing was previously scheduled to discuss budget matters, Shah may face questioning about ZunZuneo, which Cuba has attempted to turn into a propaganda victory.
One program was created by the U.S. State Department's Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB), which broadcasts radio and television signals into Cuba that are mostly jammed by the local authorities. The OCB programs such as TV and Radio Marti are named after the island's independence hero Jose Marti. Continuación...