Wednesday, May 6, 2015

State Department requests more Cuba funds

Cuba Outreach Initiative
The State Department is asking for more than $6 million to convert the U.S. Interests Section in Havana to an embassy and $528,000 for a new program called "Cuba Outreach Initiative," budget documents show.
Separately, officials are requesting $15 million for civil society programs and $5 million for rule of law and human rights programs in Cuba for fiscal year 2016. That totals $20 million, the same amount authorized in fiscal 2015, which ends on Sept. 30.
Appendix 3 of the State Department's fiscal 2016 Congressional Budget Justification for Foreign Operations states:
The United States will continue robust democracy assistance to Cuba to support civil society and greater human rights for the Cuban people. (See page 366 of Appendix 3).
The State Department's Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, or WHA, wants $6,046,000 for its "Cuba embassy conversion," but does not give details on how the money would be spent.
Appendix 1 of the State Department's Congressional Budget Justification for Foreign Operations states:
The President’s historic announcement that the United States will open an Embassy in Havana, Cuba will place more demands on the Department’s aging facilities to engage Cuban civil society and support the increase in visitors to Cuba. If the U.S. Interests Section transitions to Embassy status, the mission will expand its presence and handle more extensive operations as the relationship with Cuba intensifies. (see page 184 of Appendix 1).

Monday, May 4, 2015

Center for a Free Cuba


The Center for a Free Cuba received $231,096 in grants and contributions in 2013, down dramatically from 2007 when it snagged a $2.2 million grant.
The non-profit organization, based in Washington, D.C., received $5,119,001 in grants from 2007 through 2013, tax records show. See Form 990s for 2011, 2012 and 2013.
Expenses in 2013 included:
  • $111,226 to "help the courageous but beleaguered Cuban civil society" by providing information to democracy activists and by "encouraging solidarity and support for them by democratic governments, international organizations, and non-governmental organizations from around the world."
  • $39,723 to "victims of Castro's repression, including political prisoners and former political prisoners and their families."
  • $7,945 for "thousands of press releases, appeals, and special reports to newspapers and electronic media."

Hyper-local media outlets in Cuba

2012 proposal
Normando Hernández, the youngest of 75 activists arrested during the Black Spring of 2003, was exiled to Spain in 2010 and later settled in the United States.
In 2012, he was a Reagan-Fascell fellow and studied how independent journalists could deal with authoritarian governments. That same year, he proposed the creation of "hyper-local" media outlets in Cuba. His presentation is dated, but I hadn't seen it until now and thought I'd share it.
Hernández stated:
For ordinary Cubans to continue reclaiming social spaces, they need access to information and the ability to process it. This will allow them to make their own decisions and take action. Therefore, I propose the creation of a network of “hyper-local” community media outlets that rely on citizen journalism to promote a method of communication by Cubans, for Cubans, inside Cuba. This type of journalism would focus on the specific interests of local communities and be open to any citizen willing to participate. The international community can contribute to empowering ordinary Cubans by supporting independent community media centers that circulate information inside Cuba; monitoring violations against freedom of information; denouncing attacks; and standing in solidarity with citizen journalists.

OTI seeks boss in Colombia

The job pays $73,115, to $95,048
USAID's Office of Transition Initiatives seeks a "highly qualified, highly motivated" individual to manage and lead a project in Colombia, which "may be nearing an end to its fifty-year internal armed conflict."
An OTI announcement states:
Ongoing negotiations between the Government of Colombia (GOC) and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) continue to advance in Havana, Cuba. According to polls, the mood of the country towards a peace accord is moderately supportive but significant sectors of the population remain skeptical, including the Democratic Center party and its principal public figure, former President Uribe. If an agreement is concluded in Havana, the Colombian public will need to approve it in a referendum or other form of public consultation for it to be binding. 
Regardless of whether an agreement is reached, growing evidence suggests that Colombia is already on a path out of conflict toward greater stability and development. 
Applications for the position are due May 22. The full job announcement is below:

Request for Personal Services Contractor
USAID Office of Transition Initiatives

Position Title: OTI Deputy Country Representative - Colombia
Solicitation Number: SOL-OTI-15-000027
Salary Level: GS-13 Equivalent: $73,115 - $95,048