Facts every now and then intrude upon fakery and secrets. The New York Times reported Dec. 11 on the detention a week earlier of a U.S. agent in Havana. Described as a “United States government contract worker, who was distributing cell phones, laptops and other communications equipment in Cuba on behalf of the Obama administration,” he had entered Cuba on a tourist visa.

He apparently worked for Maryland based Developmental Alternatives Inc. (DAI). The Times report portrays DAI is “a kind of do-it-all development company that provides services to the United States government.”

But according to U.S.-Venezuelan lawyer Eva Golinger, DAI is “one of the largest U.S. government contractors providing services to the State Department, the Pentagon and the U.S. Agency for International Development.” DAI is the conduit for most of Congress’ $40 million funding last year of opposition forces inside Cuba.  

Golinger points out that DAI has operations in 14 Latin American nations. She invokes the authority of the late CIA whistle-blower Phillip Agee to claim that the company and the USAID work for the CIA. The USAID delegates many of its CIA projects through DAI, she said.

Golinger last week summarized DAI maneuverings in Venezuela. With funding of $10 million for two years, DAI opened an Office for Transition Initiatives (OTI) under USAID auspices. The OTI paid for publicity and personnel to undertake the campaign of economic sabotage and oil industry shut-down that struck Venezuela in 2002-03. The OTI paid the high-visibility Sumate group for activities directed at defeating President Chavez in the 2004 recall referendum. DAI operates presently in Venezuela with a $7 million annual budget and ties to 533 opposition groups and projects.

The present story of a DAI contractor jailed in Cuba is reminiscent of the drama of early 2003 when 75 writers and self described journalists were detained in Cuba, tried, and sentenced. That episode cast light upon U.S. efforts to undermine the Cuban government. The defendants turned out to be mercenaries paid by the U.S. government. Cuban intelligence personnel posing as colleagues had provided evidence.

Golinger last week also expanded upon CIA – USAID ties.  She recalled CIA use of the USAID to train and arm 1 million police officers in poor countries, a program closed down by Congress in 1974. Golinger cited USAID-CIA cooperation during the Vietnam War and in the overthrow of Haitian President Jean Bertrand Aristide. Last year Bolivian President Evo Morales expelled the USAID because it was funding separatist opposition groups. The governments of Eritrea, Ethiopia, Russia, and Belarus have done likewise.

This year, the USAID became part of the U.S. government’s Interagency Counterinsurgency Initiative, along with the Pentagon and the State Department.  The USAID role in counterinsurgency (COIN) is described, reports Golinger, in the 2007 State Department document, “Counterinsurgency for U.S. Government Policy Makers: A Work in Progress.”

There is a bow there to “fostering economic growth and promoting human health,” but emphasis also on “enhancing democracy in developing countries.” The USAID works in 100 countries. Prominent among the 3,500 private U.S. businesses the USAID claims as associates – along with thousands of public and private organizations – is DAI.

The U.S. contractor’s apparent connection with DAI invokes both history and present realities. Nevertheless, The New York Times delivers a little lecture: Detention of the contractor “demonstrated that President Raul Castro of Cuba had not abandoned the hard-line tactics used for years by his older brother, Fidel, to stifle dissent.”

That’s as if, in an imaginary world, the U.S. government had given a free pass to a Soviet operative wandering about in major U.S. cities handing out reading material and devices allowing easy communication between U.S. citizens and enemies, as it were, of the state.



W. T. Whitney Jr.
W. T. Whitney Jr.

W.T. Whitney Jr. is a political journalist whose focus is on Latin America, health care, and anti-racism. A Cuba solidarity activist, he formerly worked as a pediatrician, lives in rural Maine. W.T. Whitney Jr. es un periodista político cuyo enfoque está en América Latina, la atención médica y el antirracismo. Activista solidario con Cuba, anteriormente trabajó como pediatra, vive en la zona rural de Maine.