A Costa Rican human rights organization is disputing a report by the Associated Press (AP) this week that its activities in Cuba were covertly designed to foment a revolution against the communist government.
Fernando Murillo, founder and CEO of Fundacion Operacion GAYA Internacional (FundaOGI), accused the AP in a statement of “manipulat[ing]” information about the group’s HIV-prevention workshop in Cuba. The AP reported on Monday that the workshop was part of a “clandestine operation” overseen by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) with the goal of “ginning up rebellion” on the island.
“[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 said.
Additionally, other defenders of the USAID program have raised concerns about the AP’s characterization of the projects.
The AP mentioned FundaOGI’s HIV-prevention workshop as an example of the type of projects USAID supported to “provoke political change” in Cuba.
USAID and its contractor, Creative Associates International, reportedly sent Venezuelan, Costa Rican, and Peruvian young people to Cuba to pose as tourists and secretly recruit political activists, according to the AP. Memos obtained by the AP called the HIV-prevention workshop “the perfect excuse” for promoting political change.
However, Murillo said in his statement that the suggestion that his group’s actions were destabilizing “is merely a subjective interpretation of the AP” and “is not substantiated either by the facts or by the documents.”
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