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The Associated Press has learned the U.S. government created of a 'Cuban Twitter,' a communications network designed to undermine ...
the communist government in Cuba. (April 3)
Tags:ap,AP News,Associated Press,cuba social media,cuban twitter,u.s. created zunzuneo,usaid zunzuneo,zunzuneo in cuba
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SHOTLIST: AP TELEVISION - AP CLIENTS ONLY Havana - 28 February 2014 1. Wide Old Capitol building and traffic2. Traffic on Havana street with Old Capitol building in background3. Various shots of Cubans using cell phones 4. Split box showing Cubans using cell phones, ZunZuneo logo5. Cutaway shot of Ernesto Guerra and Saimi Reyes who had used ZunZuneo6. SOUNDBITE: (Spanish) Ernesto Guerra: Ex-ZunZuneo User (Transcribed Below)7. Various shots of Cubans using cell phones8. Waist shot showing Cuban woman using cell phone 9. Medium, Cubans holding cell phones CUBAVISION - AP CLIENTS ONLYHavana, January 28, 200810. Raul Castro waving flag at night march Havana, October 10, 200611. Fidel Castro holding phone after surgery AP TELEVISION - AP CLIENTS ONLYWashington - March 28, 201412. Panning shot of documents obtained by Associated Press showing outline of ZunZuneo program March 21, 2014 11. Various exteriors of offices for US Agency for International Development in Washington, D.C.12. Wide USAID flag outside of USAID officesAP TELEVISION - AP CLIENTS ONLY ++4x3 FILE Tbilisi - August 27, 200813. Wide of building in Tbilisi, Georgia where USAID boxes are being loaded and sorted during conflict with Russia in 2008.Washington - 31 March 201414. Walking shot of Joe McSpedon, a US AID manager who headed the ZunZuneo project - UPSOUND: Reporter: Was this a covert operation?'15. Graphic showing USAID logo with statement to AP: "Nothing about USAID's Cuba programs is classified or covert in any way. We carry out programs in a discreet manner to help ensure the safety of all those involved."16. Medium shot of USAID flag17. Medium shot of Cubans on cellphones Havana - 20 March 201418. Exterior shot of Cubacel storefront Washington - 21 March 201419. Close shot of Creative Associates offices in Washington, D.C., a subcontractor for USAID awarded 99 million in government funds last year20. Wide shot of sign for Creative Associates offices in Washington, D.C.Havana - Recent21. Various shots of Cubans using cell phones September 9, 200822. Various of Hurricane Ike hitting Havana, waves breaking against road in El MaleconHavana - Recent23. More medium shots of Cubans using cell phones 24. Graphic reading: "renegotiate the balance of power between the state and society."25. Graphic showing quote from Mobile Accord ZunZuneo document reading: "There will be no mention of United States government involvement"San Jose, Costa Rica - Recent26. SOUNDBITE: (English) Fulton Armstrong, Former Senate Foreign Relations Committee Analyst (Transcribed Below)27. Cutaway shot of Armstrong at his office computer - more Cubans using cell phones28. SOUNDBITE: (English) Fulton Armstrong, Former Senate Foreign Relations Committee Analyst (Transcribed Below)Washington - March 21, 201429. Close shot of USAID log on building30. Graphic from USAID statement reading: "Proud of its work in Cuba to provide basic humanitarian assistance, promote human rights and fundamental freedoms, and to help information flow more freely to the Cuban people" Havana - Recent31. Shot of people in Havana walking on street Washington - March 21, 201432. Close shot of USAID log on buildingPOOL - AP CLIENTS ONLYHavana, September 20, 200933. Various of Colombian music star Juanes performing at a massive concert in Cuba's Revolution Plaza AP TELEVISION - AP CLIENTYS ONLYWashington, Recent34. USAID flag waving, dissolves into map showing Cuba in relation to Cayman Islands35. SOUNDBITE: (English) Fulton Armstrong, Former Senate Foreign Relations Committee Analyst (Transcribed Below)Havana - March 28, 201436. Shot of family on Cuba's Malecon in Havana 37. Various of Cubans using cell phones Havana - 28 February 2014 38. SOUNDBITE: (Spanish) Ernesto Guerra, Ex-ZunZuneo User (Transcribed Below) 39. Shot of Cuban using cell phone in car. AP TELEVISION - AP CLIENTS ONLYWashington - March 28, 201440. Shot of documents obtained by Associated Press showing outline of ZunZuneo program 41. Closing shot of Cuban sitting on Malecon in Havana.ANCHOR LEAD INThe Associated Press has learned the U.S. government masterminded the creation of a "Cuban Twitter" - a communications network designed to undermine the communist government in Cuba, built with secret shell companies and financed through foreign bank transactions,. The project, which lasted more than two years and drew tens of thousands of subscribers, sought to evade Cuba's stranglehold on the Internet with a primitive social media platform that would first build a Cuban audience then later push them toward dissent. Yet its users were neither aware it was created by a U.S. agency with ties to the State Department, nor that American contractors were gathering personal data about them. It is unclear whether the scheme was legal under U.S. law which requires written authorization of covert action by the president and congressional notification .Officials at USAID would not say who had approved the program or whether the White House was aware of it. At minimum, details uncovered by the AP appear to contradict the U.S. Agency for International Development's longstanding claims that it does not conduct covert actions, and could undermine the agency's mission to deliver aid to the world's poor and vulnerable - an effort that requires the trust and cooperation of foreign governments. VOICEOVER SCRIPT ON THE BUSTLING STREETS OF HAVANA PEOPLE STILL TALK ABOUT ZUNZUNEO - A SOCIAL MEDIA NETWORK THAT EXPLODED IN POPULARITY.CUBAN SLANG FOR HUMMINGBIRD … IT EVOKED THE IMAGE OF TWITTER AND HAD TENS OF THOUSANDS OF CELL PHONE USERS. ERNESTO GUERRA WAS ONE.SOUNDBITE: (Spanish) Ernesto Guerra, Ex-ZunZuneo User: "You would log on and write 140 characters. It was free of charge."BUT WHAT GUERRA DIDN'T KNOW WAS THAT ZUNZUNEO WAS PART OF A U.S. PLAN DESIGNED TO UNDERMINE THE GOVERNMENT OF PRESIDENT RAUL CASTRO…. AND HIS BROTHER FIDEL.AP's INVESTIGATION SHOW THE ORGANIZATION BEHIND THIS WAS THE UNITED STATES AGENCY FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT, A FEDERAL AGENCY BEST KNOWN FOR OVERSEEING BILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN U.S .HUMANITARIAN AID; WHICH ALSO HAS A MANDATE TO SPREAD DEMOCRACY. THE SECRET PLAN WAS LED BY USAID MANAGER JOE MCSPEDON WHO REFUSED TO TALK TO AP -SOT: Nats - Reporter: Was this a covert plan?"LATER, A US AID SPOKESMAN TOLD AP "NOTHING ABOUT USAID'S CUBA PROGRAMS IS CLASSIFIED OR COVERT IN ANY WAY. WE CARRY OUT PROGRAMS IN A DISCREET MANNER TO HELP ENSURE THE SAFETY OF ALL THOSE INVOLVED"THE PROGRAM CAME TO LIFE WHEN U.S.A.I.D CONTRACTOR OBTAINED HALF-A-MILLION CELL PHONE NUMBERS ON THE STATE-OWNED MOBILE NETWORK. THE CONTRACTOR, CREATIVE ASSOCIATES, BASED IN WASHINGTON DC, WAS PAID BY USAID TO HATCH A PLAN TO SEND TEXT MESSAGES TO CUBANS' CELL PHONE OWNERS.INITIALLY THEY SENT MESSAGES ABOUT TOPICS LIKE THE WEATHER, SOCCER AND MUSIC - TO BUILD AN AUDIENCE AND SO AS NOT TO ALERT THE CUBAN GOVERNMENT . LATER THEY PLANNED TO PUSH MESSAGES WHICH THEY HOPED WOULD ENCOURAGE DISSENT . ONE U.S.A.I.D DOCUMENT SAID THE AIM WAS TO "RENEGOTIATE THE BALANCE OF POWER BETWEEN THE STATE AND SOCIETY."SECRECY WAS CRITICAL'THERE WILL BE ABSOLUTELY NO MENTION OF UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT INVOLVEMENT', READS ONE INTERNAL MEMO OBTAINED BY THE A-P.SOUNDBITE: (English) Fulton Armstrong, Former Senate Foreign Relations Cmte. Analyst: "They didn't want anyone to know what they were up to"FORMER CIA ANALYST FULTON ARMSTRONG WAS WORKING FOR THE SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE AT THE TIME. HE SAID TENSIONS BETWEEN CONGRESS AND U.S.A.I.D OVER WHAT APPEARED TO BE CLANDESTINE OPERATIONS STARTED BEFORE THE ZUN-ZUNEO PROJECT WAS LAUNCHED. SOUNDBITE: (English) Fulton Armstrong, Former Senate Foreign Relations Cmte. Analyst: "We were told we couldn't even be told in broad terms what was happening, because quote, people will die"U.S.A.I.D SAID IN A STATEMENT THAT IT IS "PROUD OF ITS WORK IN CUBA TO PROVIDE BASIC HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE, PROMOTE HUMAN RIGHTS AND FUNDAMENTAL FREEDOMS, AND TO HELP INFORMATION FLOW MORE FREELY TO THE CUBAN PEOPLE," WHOM IT SAID HAVE LIVED UNDER AN AUTHORITARIAN REGIME" FOR FIFTY YEARS. THE AGENCY SAID ITS WORK WAS FOUND TO BE "CONSISTENT.WITH U.S. LAW." THE FIRST OPPORTUNITY FOR THE ZUN-ZUNEO TEAM TO TEST THE BLAST MESSAGES CAME IN SEPTEMBER OF 2009 - WHEN THOUSANDS OF YOUNG PEOPLE GATHERED FOR A CONCERT BY LATIN STAR JUANES IN REVOLUTION PLAZA IN HAVANA.IN THE WEEKS LEADING UP TO THE CONCERT - ZUN-ZUNEO SENT OUT HALF A MILLION MESSAGES TO SEE IF CUBAN OFFICIALS REACTED.OVERSEAS FRONT COMPANIES, FINANCED FROM A BANK IN THE CAYMAN ISLANDS, WERE SET UP TO PREVENT CUBAN AUTHORITIES FROM TRACING THE REAL SOURCE OF THE MESSAGES.SOUNDBITE: (English) Fulton Armstrong, Former Senate Foreign Relations Committee Analyst: "it's a really sad story - when you have bureaucrats with some political intervention going around running operations for which there's no oversight, no transparency." THE PLAN NEVER GOT TO THE POINT WHERE ANY MESSAGES WERE SENT TO SPARK dissent AGAINST THE CUBAN GOVERNMENT.IN 2012 THE TEXTING SERVICE TOPPED ABRUPTLY WHEN USAID SAID THE FUNDING ENDED. Ernesto Guerra, Ex-Zunzuneo User:Damn! I was on the service for so long and never realized what it really was?"GUERRA WASN'T THE ONLY ONE. UNTIL NOW FEW KNEW ZUN-ZUNEO'S REAL PURPOSE. FOR YOUNG CUBANS ITS DISAPPEARANCE WAS AS MYSTERIOUS AS ITS ORIGINS. DAVID BRUNS, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS