For evidence that the U.S. government really has run out of ideas in its policy toward Cuba, look no further than the U.S. Agency for International Development. According to an Associated Press reportThursday, USAID spent more than two years trying to infiltrate Cuba’s underground hip-hop movement.

According to the AP, USAID worked with a U.S. contractor, Creative Associates International, to promote Cuban rappers and organize concerts with artists opposed to the regime of leader Fidel Castro. As the AP tells the story, it’s an effort that mostly failed and ended up backfiring. The Cuban government ended up taking over a musical festival that Creative Associates had become involved in, and one of the groups the contractor worked with, Los Aldeanos, ended up leaving the island for Florida. Moreover, “On at least six occasions,” the AP reports, “Cuban authorities detained or interrogated people involved in the program.”

On its face, the story reads like a classic case of bureaucratic bumbling and second-rate spying. The notion of a Washington agency having an ability to identify promising Cuban rappers sounds ludicrous. And USAID’s involvement itself harkens back to the agency’s failed, and controversial, effort to start a “Cuban Twitter.”...



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