Human rights activist featured in AP’s hit piece on U.S. democracy programs in Cuba pushes back
Human rights group founder says AP misrepresented work in Cuba for USAID
A Costa Rican human rights organization founder accused The Associated Press of “misrepresenting” his group’s humanitarian work in Cuba for the United States Agency for International Development and claimed that an AP reporter “extorted” interviews from his staff and broke his agreement with a source, in a statement Monday.
Fernando Murillo, founder of the Fundación Operación GAYA Internacional (FundaOGI), accused reporter Alberto Arce and his editor, Trish Wilson, of twisting his organization’s humanitarian work in Cuba to fit a predetermined narrative about USAID’s “clandestine” plot to use young volunteers – including some from Costa Rica – to recruit pro-democracy activists and to destabilize the Castro regime. At the heart of the exposé, “US sent Latin youth undercover in anti-Cuba ploy,” was the alleged use of an FundaOGI HIV-prevention workshop to identify prospective provocateurs.
Murillo said that Wilson told him in a telephone call that their interest in the article was to “hurt the United States.”
“[The AP] manipulated information in order to make it look like FundaOGI had instructions to set up cultural and artistic activities in an undercover way for destabilizing ends, which is totally false,” Murillo wrote in a statement published on the foundation’s website Monday.
The AP’s report Monday was the second in a series about Washington, D.C.-based Creative Associates International’s work in Cuba, including the ZunZuneo micro-blog, funded by USAID and reportedly operated out of Costa Rica.
The FundaOFI founder said he sent an email on Aug. 3 to Wilson stating that their activities in Cuba took place in a government school and were observed by other culture groups, including the Union of Cuban Artists and Writers (UNEAC) and local authorities.
He said that the quote attributed to a FundaOGI report calling the HIV-prevention workshops a “perfect excuse” to recruit political activists was taken out of context.
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