By John Vibes
According to a recent report, the US government spent at least four years financing underground hip-hop artists in Cuba, as a means of subverting the Cuban government.
Matt Herrick, spokesman for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the agency who ran the program, admitted to the accusations last week.
“It seemed like a good idea to support civil society. It’s not something we are embarrassed about in any way,” he said.
In a later statement, USAID said that it “supports civil society programs in Cuba and other restrictive environments as part of the U.S. government’s overall effort to promote resilient, democratic societies.”
The total amount of money that they spent on the project has yet to be revealed, but the agency claims that Congress was “briefed” on their budget. The program was initially spearheaded by Serbian contractor Rajko Bozic, but many of the other participants still remain anonymous.
When he arrived in Cuba, Bozic scouted a revolutionary hip-hop group called Los Aldeanos and worked for several months to co-opt their following. Bozic supplied the group with money and opportunities that allowed them to rise in popularity quickly, so they were not very suspicious of his background. Since the fallout of the operation, Los Aldeanos has reportedly moved back to America and toned down their lyrics.
It is not clear how many other agents or how many other artists were involved in this program.