US created Twitter ghost to topple the Cuban government

The US government was involved in setting up a Cuban Twitter look alike with the aim of undermining the communist government.

According to the Washington Post it was set up in July 2010, by Joe McSpedon, a US government official.

McSpedon and his team of high-tech contractors wanted to launch a messaging network that could reach hundreds of thousands of Cubans. It was hidden from the Cuban government by using front companies and a Cayman Islands bank account. Unsuspecting executives who would not be told of the company’s ties to the US government.

The programme paid for and run by the US Agency for International Development, best known for overseeing billions of dollars in US humanitarian aid.

The plan was to develop a bare-bones “Cuban Twitter,” using mobile text messaging to evade Cuba’s strict control of information and its stranglehold restrictions over the Internet. In a play on Twitter, it was called ZunZuneo — slang for a Cuban hummingbird’s tweet.

The US government planned to build a subscriber base through “non-controversial content”: news messages on soccer, music, and hurricane updates. After the network reached a critical mass of subscribers, perhaps hundreds of thousands, operators would introduce political content aimed at inspiring Cubans to organize “smart mobs” and mass gatherings. The aim was to start a Cuban spring.

It did not work. ZunZuneo could not be made self-sustaining and independent of the US government. USAID was paying tens of thousands of dollars in text messaging fees to Cuba’s communist telecommunications monopoly routed through a secret bank account and front companies. No one could afford it and if it was found out it would be embarrassing. In the end they pulled the plug on it suddenly. Looks like another Bay of Pigs fiasco.