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Funding Dissidents: 2000 and before

Here we attempt to track some of the information relating to dissidents on the island, particularly in regards to funding.   

As the article from "El Herald" notes below, USAID funds are pouring into Miami to fund dissidents. 

Here is a partial list of groups that received money, according to El Herald, 2/21/00:

  •  Centro para una Cuba Libre: $ 900,000
  •  US-Cuba Business Council: $ 567,000
  •  Directorio Revolucionario Democrático Cubano $554,835
  •  Cuba online: $ 300,000
  •  Cuba Free Press: $280,000
  •  Grupo de Trabajo de la Disidencia Interna: $250,000

What appears to be  the Cuba Free Press' web site,, has survived the end of their USAID funds this past February and has accumulated an additional war chest from private donations. For their discussion of their finances and all the independent journalists they support in Cuba, see and

Until the 90's, these groups paid very little attention to AfroCuban issues, either in Miami or among dissidents.   Since then, there has been a steadily increasing emphasis on these issues, along the lines of "the Cuban government is racist" and "there are no blacks in the Cuban government," etc. Some "independent" black Cuban journalists in Cuba, such as Ulises Cabrera, likely would be a recipient of Federal largess.   Not directly of course, since that would violate Treasury regulations, but Miami's being the direct recipient of so many funds does free up money to send to Cuba -- which of course is against the letter of the law, but winked at, unless you're trying to finance ordinary people who are not dissidents. Then you are trading with the enemy!

See also Dissidents and Race.

CANF Quadruples funds to dissidents in Cuba, 9/14/00

In Miami, Cuban Exile Group Shifts Focus

By Scott Wilson. The Washington Post Foreign Service. Thursday, September 14, 2000; Page A03

MIAMI – The leading institution of this city's Cuban exile community plans to quadruple the amount of money it sends to dissident leaders on the island in a modest shift away from its Washington-oriented strategy to bring democratic change in Cuba.

The move, described by Joe Garcia, executive director of the Cuban American National Foundation, is a tacit acknowledgment that the Cuba lobby has recently lost some footing in the halls of Congress, and it could increase tension between Cuban dissidents and the island's communist government.

Garcia said in an interview that a portion of the group's $10 million annual budget – he declined to say how much – will begin flowing to the island through sympathetic dissidents by the end of the year. At the same time, Garcia said the foundation is broadening its Washington strategy, which has long focused on Congress. The foundation plans to raise its profile by opening a "Free Cuba Embassy" in a town house on Jefferson Place NW.

In recent years, Garcia said, the foundation has worked almost solely on blocking attempts to weaken the 40-year-old U.S. trade embargo on Cuba, particularly since the Elian Gonzalez case brought that policy to the attention of more Americans than ever. Now, he said, the foundation will step up lobbying for initiatives that include expanding U.S. aid to fight hunger in Cuba, increasing funds to buy books for its independent libraries and improving telephone links.

All the money would be distributed outside Cuban government channels. With that shift will likely come increased tension and confrontation on the island, as the Cuban government opposes outside help to its critics.

The Cuban government recently jailed a Chicago man for 20 days after he passed out small sums of money to Cuban dissidents during his visit. Douglas Schimmel, 70, had met with Frank Calzon of the Washington-based Center for a Free Cuba before leaving the United States and said he was asked to pass out $1,000 to dissidents. An opponent of the U.S. trade embargo, Schimmel refused, saying he would use his own money. The Cuban government charged him with "rebellion."

"What was most important that we get done has already been done," said Garcia, who took day-to-day control of the group a few months ago and was a prote»ge» of the foundation's late founder, Jorge Mas Canosa. "We needed to take the foreign policy novices on. Suddenly, people discovered that Cuba was a small island in the Caribbean we don't do business with. We needed to make sure Congress didn't overreact."

With less than a month before Congress adjourns, Garcia said he is confident that no legislation weakening the embargo will emerge this year. A conference committee is considering a bill that would allow food and medicine sales to Cuba, but without a push from Republican leaders it will likely languish.

"I'm happy either way," Garcia said. "Neither [the bill or its failure] is what the [Cuban] regime wants."

Garcia and others say the business and farming interests that have joined to fight the embargo pose perhaps the biggest challenge to the foundation's program in the months ahead. Garcia said its focus on hunger and human rights is designed to blunt that mercantile push for new markets.

"We're going to try to reengage America's conscience," he said.

The assessment offered by Garcia and other exile leaders here comes almost three months after the community's most public and humiliating defeat: the return of 6-year-old Elian to his father in Cuba. The eight-month ordeal left this city more divided than ever and a majority of Americans favoring a change in U.S. policy toward the island of 11 million residents.

Garcia, whose parents left Cuba before he was born, acknowledges that "no doubt about it, they [the Cuban government] scored a short-term public relations victory" with Elian's return. But since then, he said, the foundation has hired an outside public relations firm for help. He said membership has risen 15 percent to almost 60,000 and the community has come back together.

As proof, Garcia and others hold up last week's reelection of Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas, who famously declared during the Elian case that the local police would not assist federal agents if asked to take the child from his Miami relatives. Penelas emerged with 52 percent of the vote from a largely inexperienced 10-member field after spending $1.4 million.

"After Elian we were like the scum of the earth," said Ninoska Perez, a foundation director. "I can tell you that, without thinking twice, people would do the same thing again."

The exile community is still somewhat divided over the best course to take to achieve its long-stated goal of ending President Fidel Castro's four decades in power and bringing democracy to Cuba. The foundation is formulating an international lobbying effort to enlist conservative European and Latin American leaders such Mexico's President-elect Vicente Fox to help their cause. But another exile faction is advocating an approach that would send even more money to the Cubans themselves.

In a recent article for the Miami Herald, Calzon of Center for a Free Cuba wrote that "freedom in Cuba will be determined by events inside, not outside, the island. Exile leaders must not usurp the internal opposition's role."

"There is a growing consensus that we should be looking toward Cuba and the dissidents, as opposed to Washington," said Carlos de la Cruz, a wealthy Cuban exile here who helps fund opposition efforts. "Clearly the exiles aren't going to overthrow anything. It has to come from inside Cuba."

© 2000 The Washington Post Company

The CANF: a financial portrait
by Andy Petit, 4/15/00top

The Cuban American National Foundation (CANF), was founded by Jorge Mas Canosa, a veteran of the 1960 Bay of Pigs with long term ties to the CIA until his death in 1997.

Mas Canosa founded Mas Tec Inc., a construction company with revenues in excess of $1 billion in 1998. His son, Jorge Mas Santos, inherited not only the business, but also the post at the head of the foundation.

The CANF has a board of directors with about 60 members, each of whom gives over $10,000 a year. A separate board of trustees numbers 60. Each of them gives over $5,000 a year. The total number of contributors is 50,000. In addition, the Jorge Mas Canosa Freedom Foundation, which is funded by Mas Canosa's estate, matches each dollar contributed to the CANF with two dollars of its own. The administrative budget is around $1.5 million a year with separate funds raised for each activity.

In 1997 and 1998, the foundation's Free Cuba PAC gave Democrats $53,000 and Republicans $49,500. The foundation has another PAC, the Cuban American Foundation PAC. CANF members and their allies also donate money to candidates as individuals. During the ’92 primaries, the CANF organized fund-raisers for Bill Clinton who received $275,000 at two fund-raisers in Miami. Just before his inauguration, he was rumored to be considering Mario Baeza, an AfroCuban attorney, for assistant secretary of State for Inter-American affairs. Mas Canosa opposed the Baeza appointment and made it known through three other recipients of hislargess: Bill Bradley of New Jersey, Bob Graham of Florida, and Robert Torricelli of New Jersey, thus ending the appointment.

The CANF and its allies have been linked in the past with acts of intimidation and efforts to stomp out dissent, even death threats, as documented by Americas Watch and other human rights group.

El dinero federal esta lloviendo sobre Miami, 2/21/00top

Publicado el lunes, 21 de febrero de 2000 en El Nuevo Herald

El Nuevo Herald

El dinero federal para democratizar a Cuba, de acuerdo con los términos de la Ley Helms-Burton, está lloviendo sobre Miami.

La Agencia Internacional de Estados Unidos para el Desarrollo (USAID) ha donado millones de dólares en ayuda federal en los últimos tres años a organizaciones políticas de exiliados e instituciones norteamericanas, para implementar un polémico plan que aspira a promover una transición pacífica hacia la democracia en Cuba.

``Hasta ahora hemos aprobado $6.5 millones y nuestro nivel de aprobación para este año es de $3.5 millones más'', explicó Kim Walz, de la Oficina de Prensa de USAID en Washington.

Los fondos aprobados benefician a una amplia gama de organizaciones que van desde el Instituto para la Democracia en Cuba, que recibió $1 millón, hasta CubaNet, que recibió $98,000.

Hay diferencias en el proceso administrativo de esos fondos ya que, mientras algunos de sus dirigentes reciben salarios de hasta $30,000 anuales, otros no reciben ningún dinero por su trabajo y la mayoría declinó revelar a El Nuevo Herald cuánto ganaba.

Según la USAID, el dinero entregado por esa agencia no puede ser enviado en efectivo a Cuba, en cumplimiento de las sanciones comerciales de Estados Unidos a la isla. Su utilización está destinada fundamentalmente a:

 Mantener comunicaciones con activistas de derechos humanos dentro de Cuba y difundir en el exterior sus denuncias.

  •  Reproducir en el exterior los trabajos de los periodistas independientes.
  •  Ayudar al desarrollo de organizaciones no gubernamentales en la isla.
  •  Enviar alimentos y medicinas a presos políticos y sus familiares, así como a otras víctimas de la represión en Cuba.

Por lo demas, vease el Herald:

Organizaciones del exilio que recibirán fondos, 2/00top

Publicado el lunes, 21 de febrero de 2000 en El Nuevo Herald

Organizaciones del exilio que recibirán fondos

Los fondos se derivan del cumplimiento de las leyes Torricelli y Helms-Burton

El Nuevo Herald

Estas son algunas de las organizaciones del exilio que han recibido la aprobación de fondos más importantes, a través del Programa para Cuba de la Agencia Internacional para el Desarrollo de los Estados Unidos en cumplimiento de la Ley para la Democracia Cubana de 1992 (Torricelli) y de la Ley para la Libertad y Solidaridad Cubana de 1996 (Helms-Burton).

 Instituto para la Democracia en Cuba: $ 1,000,000

Registrado en el Estado de la Florida como una Corporación No Lucrativa. Los datos corporativos muestran que sus directivos son: Rafael Sánchez Aballí, Leonardo V. Sesin y Francisco Hernández-Trujillo.

Según la USAID, los fondos aprobados serán utilizados para asistir a los activistas democráticos en Cuba, informar al pueblo cubano y reunir y diseminar información de derechos humanos desde dentro de Cuba. Servirán también para proveer asistencia humanitaria (medicinas y alimentos) a prisioneros políticos, sus familiares y otras víctimas de la opresión en Cuba.

  •  Centro para una Cuba Libre: $ 900,000
  •  US-Cuba Business Council: $ 567,000
  •  Directorio Revolucionario Democrático Cubano $554,835
  •  Cuba online: $ 300,000
  •  Cuba Free Press: $280,000
  •  Grupo de Trabajo de la Disidencia Interna: $250,000

Vease al   por el resto del articulo

Cuestionan destino del dinero para la democracia en Cuba, 2/00top

Publicado el martes, 22 de febrero de 2000 en El Nuevo Herald

Cuestionan destino del dinero para la democracia en Cuba

El Nuevo Herald

El dinero entregado por la Agencia Internacional para el Desarrollo de los Estados Unidos (USAID), para el programa Cuba, en cumplimiento de la Ley Helms-Burton, está siendo cuestionado seriamente por dirigentes de la oposición dentro y fuera de la isla.

``En realidad muchos de esos planes son una burla a los legítimos intereses de los opositores cubanos y de los propios Estados Unidos'' , afirmó José Basulto, presidente de Hermanos al Rescate. ``En lo que a nosotros respecta, no queremos esa ayuda, no la hemos recibido y no la estamos solicitando''.

Según Basulto los fondos de USAID pudieran estar creando ``un desbalance en el abanico político interno, porque su entrega selectiva por grupos de interés genera desequilibrios entre las fuerzas opositoras''.

Raúl Rivero, director de la agencia de CubaPress en La Habana, señaló que los esfuerzos externos de ayudar politica y financieramente a la disidencia interna, encuentran en Cuba el obstáculo de leyes que penalizan con varios años de cárcel a quienes la reciban.

``Después de cursar tres años de periodismo por correspondencia de FIU tienes que estar dispuesto a cumplir cinco años de cárcel por violar la ley'', subrayó Rivero. ``Hasta donde yo sé, el intento ese de crear cursos por correspondencia para periodistas independientes en Cuba no ha funcionado hasta ahora'', añadió.

El Centro Internacional de Prensa, de la Universidad Internacional de la Florida (FIU) en Miami, recibió el pasado año $292,000 de la USAID para ``entrenar a periodistas independientes en Cuba y mejorar sus habilidades profesionales''.

Charles Green, director del Centro, dijo que esos fondos han servido para elaborar cursos por correspondencia para periodistas independientes, traducir sus artículos y reportajes, y para invitarlos a talleres y cursos de formación en el Centro Latinoamericano de Prensa en Panamá.

``Todavía no hemos invitado a nadie pero esperamos hacerlo para fines de este mes o principios del próximo'', indicó.

Uno de los proyectos más controvertidos es un estudio realizado por la Fundación Internacional para Sistemas Electorales (IFES), con sede en Washington, que recibió $136,000 dólares para elaborar un plan electoral poscastrista. El IFES concluyó el estudio hace dos meses pero sus resultados apenas han sido divulgados.

``Algunos cientos de copias del estudio están disponibles para quien los pida o los quiera recoger en las oficinas de nuestra Sección de Intereses en La Habana'', dijo un funcionario del Departamento de Estado. ``Es la forma que tenemos de que esto se conozca entre la población cubana'', agregó.

La idea de preparar un proyecto electoral para Cuba, desde el exterior y por una institución extranjera, fue criticada fuertemente por Roberto Rodríguez, presidente de la Junta Patriótica Cubana (JPC).

``¿Cómo se va a hacer un estudio, un proceso de esa naturaleza desde Washington?'', se cuestionó Rodríguez, quien rechazó además la idea de aceptar fondos federales. ``El que paga manda y la nueva Cuba debe surgir libre, sin ataduras a gobiernos extranjeros''.

Rodríguez dijo que desde su fundación la JPC se ha sostenido con el aporte de sus miembros y del pueblo exiliado.

``Ni hemos recibido ayuda federal, ni la queremos, ni la hemos pedido nunca'', subrayó.

Otro de los proyectos cuestionados es el de la Fundación Panamericana para el Desarrollo, con sede en Washington, que recibió $237,000 para vincular a organizaciones ambientalistas no gubernamentales de Cuba con sus contrapartes en el hemisferio.

``En realidad hasta ahora no hemos hecho nada, no hemos usado esos fondos porque estamos tratando de identificar a organizaciones no gubernamentales en Cuba'', dijo Norberto Ambross, Director de Programas de esa fundación. ``Creemos que hay organizaciones ambientalistas en Cuba no gubernamentales, menos oficialistas que otras, y estamos en ese proceso de búsqueda''.

Según Elizardo Sánchez, presidente de la Comisión Cubana de Derechos Humanos y Reconciliación Nacional'', en Cuba casi todas las organizaciones registradas legalmente como ``no gubernamentales'' tienen un carácter oficialista.

Por lo demas, vese al


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