Friday, 18 January 2013

U.S. government funds ‘independent’ journalists in Cuba

Applied Memetics manages cohort of "independent" journalists in Cuba
The U.S. government has hired a former CIA agent to create and manage a team of “independent” journalists in Cuba.  Daniel Gabriel, previously operations assistant at CNN, joined the CIA and completed six tours to Afghanistan and Iraq in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

His LinkedIn biography describes him as a former CIA covert action officer who spent 10 years "countering violent-extremism, directing counter-insurgency operations, and developing and benchmarking counter-radicalization theory and methodology in the Islamic world."

Gabriel is currently part of the Corporate Leadership Team at Applied Memetics who, according to their mission statement, “exploit and leverage perceptions to create new realities on the ground”. After running the phrase through the corporate bullshit filter of GoogleTranslate, I’m told it means “manufacturing propaganda” or “lying”.

Contracts from last September show that the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) – a U.S. government agency – paid Applied Memetics $9,909 for work performed in Cuba.  A document from the following month shows that the contract was modified to include the option of extending the arrangement until October 2016

The BBG’s proposal said that Cuban reporters would be required to operate in “major cities in Cuba, including Havana and Santiago de Cuba” and “would provide regular local news and feature reports”  on politics, economics and “the dissident movement.”

The BBG, which manages the Office of Cuba Broadcasting, said the contract managing the Cuban journalists would be required to produce “at least five stories per week” including video news packages, interviews, sound bites, written stories for use in radio and on websites, and photos.

America’s funding of journalists with a specific aim of producing stories on the “dissident” movement raises serious questions about the independence and objectivity – and therefore reliability – of these correspondents. In a country with an average wage of little over $20 per month, the promise of sponsorship from an imperial power is a powerful incentive to manufacture unfounded stories about non-existent dissidence.  Indeed, by 2011, the U.S. government had already used $150m of tax payers’ money to fund ‘democracy promotion’ – including the subsidy of “independent” journalists – in Cuba.     

And it isn’t just in Cuba that the United States is contradicting its belief in a “free” media. According to evidence obtained through the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, the American government directly funded Miami-based journalists  to write and broadcast prejudicial articles before and during the trial of the Miami Five, five Cuban anti-terrorists that have been unjustly imprisoned in the U.S. for 15 years.

In this context, you don't need GoogleTranslate to tell you that the United States’ continuing insistence that Cuba lacks a “free” media seems somewhat ironic. 

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