Government demands answers from US over program to stir Cuban unrest from Costa Rica

Costa Rican Foreign Minister, Enrique Castillo (archive image)

Costa Rican Foreign Minister, Enrique Castillo (archive image)

April 24th, 2014 (InsideCostaRica.com) Costa Rica says it is waiting for the Obama administration to explain why it launched a secret social network intended to stir political unrest in Cuba from an office in San José despite the fact Costa Rica warned the United States a year earlier that the issue could cause diplomatic tensions between the countries.

 

The controversy surrounds a secretly created social network launched in 2010 known as ZunZuneo.  The Twitter-like service was aimed at undermining Cuba’s communist government, according to the Associated Press, which broke the story on April 4th.

 

The goal was to create a social network that could reach hundreds of thousands of Cubans while remaining hidden from the Cuban government by utilizing cell phone text messaging.

 

Those in charge of the plan intended to build a subscriber base by initially distributing “non-controversial content” such as updates on soccer, music, and hurricane forecasts.  Later, when the service had reached mass, officials would introduce political content aimed at sparking mass gatherings on short notice that might trigger a “Cuban Spring,”  according to the Associated Press.

 

The service ultimately grew to more than 40,000 Cuban subscribers who shared news and opinions, unaware that the service was the work of the US government.

 

In an interview this week with the Associated Press, Costa Rican Foreign Minister, Enrique Castillo said any activities to affect other countries should not be carried out from Costa Rican soil.

 

“I think it’s inappropriate to use an embassy in Costa Rica for this type of operation that harms a third country,” Castillo told AP.

 

In a report on Tuesday, La Nacion revealed that Costa Rica’s Foreign Ministry warned the U.S. Embassy in June 2009 that the plan could lead to “political difficulties” for Costa Rica, and refused to grant diplomatic status to two U.S. government contractors involved in the program.

 

“It may be that there were illegalities committed while this program was being executed, but that is solely the responsibility of the U.S. government,” Castillo said on Tuesday.

 

Despite a collection of documents obtained by the Associated Press indicating that there would be absolutely no mention of U.S. government involvement in the program, the Obama administration said earlier this month that the program was not covert.

 

ZunZuneo vanished in mid-2012, allegedly after funding for the program ran out.

 

 

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  • http://alligatorsnroadkill.blogspot.com/ John Dungan

    If it has been gone for nearly two years, what’s the big deal?

    • Ben

      You don´t get it. US does this type of thing everywhere and in Costa Rica went throught the Iran Contra affair and still remenbers US messing around in CR. US goverment need to come clean or there could be a problem for Ex pats. The US embassy needs to be honest now. Protests are being planned and could get messy very soon. With intel and B of A leaving lots of people are upset and anything could happen if the right button is pushed. Just an Idea John learn about Latin America history with CIA and US goverment involvement. Latin America is not very trusting of US goverment. What Oliver North said I was authorized to do everything that I did. He was talking about bring guns into CR
      Oliver North

      • Andrew

        Ben Dover: Try proofreading some of this crap! Perhaps with a little more time and effort, you could make it semi-comprehensible, but I doubt it.

  • disgusted

    Yawn! How about the citizens the Costarricense demand the government to account to the people here their lavish spending , high salaries, all kinds of perks that driving CR into bankruptcy. Firing deadwood in the government . Cutting pay. Accountability. This is what I think the ministers should be alarmed at not some stupid twitter account!

    • Ben

      Here we go again. US spying on others. Why the hell are they doing this in Costa Rica? I think its time that US citizen in Costa Rica call the US embassy and say this is going to effect them with Goverment of Costa Rica. I went to meeting last night that wants to throw US embassy staff out of Costa Rica they also what to cut Cafta off. There was arounf 100 at the meeting. Many Ex pat where there and where very unhappy about US doing this mess on Costa Rica Soil. US goverment need to come clean or there coulkd be a big problem for Ex pat in Country. Costa Rican are not laying down anymore they are upset with losing there land and losing jobs to US intrests.

      • Fernando Gerdano

        You’re full of shit but you better hope that doesn’t happen. Then you won’t be under the protection of the US and you will be the peon for a Nicaraguan working for a small amount of Cordoba’s or out on the street cleaning shoes.

        • Ben

          Your funny seem to have upset a US citizen.

        • Ben

          I find it funny when US citizen get mad about people being upset with them. I hope Costa Rican take back there country from the US intrests asap

          Watch this

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j-p4cPoVcIo

          • expatin paradise

            I agree that the US sees itself as masters of the western hemisphere, with Costa Rica and other nations being mere colonies. The Monroe Doctrine lives, and those countries that resist US dominance are labeled by the US government as “terrorist states.” The US government, more than at any other time in its history, is a tool of US corporations.

            That having been said, Costa Rica, in its laudable move to abolish a military, has made itself vulnerable to its neighbors and in need of a protector. The US government provides that protection. It is an uneasy allegiance, and a lop-sided one, especially with Ortega, the wolf, at the door.

            Reagan’s illegal Panamanian invasion and the Contra operations launched from Panama and CR are only two examples of US dominance in the immediate region. US involvement in Colombia is a more recent but more distant one. Even if Costa Rica were to re-militarize, it is questionable whether the country could shake off the influence of the US, because the corporate US is so heavily invested here and the US is the principal source of individual investors and tourists. This is not to say that Costa Rica cannot be more careful about the trade agreements and the terms of other arrangements it makes with the US. It is one thing to be exploited and another to be a slave.

          • Ben

            You right on many points but Nicaragua is not athreat to CR at all. First Nicaragua has a nothing military. Costa Rica Police are larger in Numbers and have better training than Nicaragua. Second Panama defence forces train with CR police and Panama would come very fast to CR aid if Nicaragua started to move. The US would not even need to come. Most CR own guns and shoot lots at Gun Ranges. My family in CR everyone i know owns guns and not hand guns. LIke AR15. Costa Rican can deal with Nicaragua trust me. As for the Monroe Doctrine it is sick and a form a slavery against Latin America. Not in my backyard it should be called. As for Cafta or TLC it does not help Costa Rican at all. Farmers hate it and small business say the taxes are killing them. Cafta was a screw up and even Canada say it was bad for CR I also can´t stand Countries that want to control small nations.

          • expatin paradise

            I agree with you completely about the Monroe doctrine, CAFTA, and foreign powers who try to control the affairs of smaller countries. I certainly did not mean to suggest that I endorse these attitudes, only that they exist – the US is this hemisphere’s bully. The Bush administration coerced the Arias administration to go all out for CAFTA, threatening to cut off trade if CR didn’t sign on. Such extortion is unconscionable but commonplace. Now, the US is pushing for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, another agreement designed to benefit nobody other than big corporations.

            I am surprised at your statements about Costa Rica’s readiness in case of invasion and Nicaragua’s lack of forces. I had read recently of militia activity, but thought that it was BS. I am also surprised to know that so many Costa Ricans are so well armed – the impression that one gets is that only the criminal sector (per many Ticos, the Nicaraguans) is armed. I hope that you’re right, but wonder why so many Costa Ricans are so paranoid about Nicaragua if you are right. Of course, Nicaragua has close and well-armed allies in Venezuela and Cuba. I would hope that Panama would rush to Costa Rica’s aid, but I would be very surprised to see Panama become involved if the US opposed their intervention.

            I don’t want to cause you to reveal any more personal information than you are comfortable revealing, but I wonder if your area is better armed than the Greater Metropolitan Area or the central valley. If you don’t mind saying, in what part of Costa Rica are you located?

          • Ben

            There is group of 300 guys and gals that train every other week and are well armed they have brought in help to train. This group has been talked about a little in media but nobody has gone and seen them to much. The group is growing very fast and everyone own there AR15 i understand. I live between Cartago and Central Valley. Its very farming type area and most of the farmers are very diffrent than most people in CR. In my area most people grow there own food and sell at local markets. I was shocked when i went to a gun range in Costa Rica and saw my Farming buddies with AR15 and Good gear. Go to a gun range hear you might be surprised. The PLN play this Nicaragua thing up to much. Nicaragua says something and PLN get upset. Words are just words they stir up uneducated emotion. Every country needs another to hate.Costa Rica country to hate is Nicaragua, Just like US hate Arab nations then somebody else. Domincan´s hate Haiti. Every Political systen needs a enemy. Maybe we can sit and have beer one day. Your thoughts are good.

          • Andrew

            Nicaragua has nothing military? Are you smoking piedras again Ben Dover? Ever heard of Russia? You twit, I’m putting your silly ass on “ignore.” Good luck with your militia. I hope not too many of you are killed by friendly fire from your “not (just) hand guns” Suerte clown. Oh by the way, Ben, I’m guessing Fernando Gerdano with the Imperial logo is not a Gringo. But you are still a clown.

      • Frank Castle

        Ben, I hope you realize just like you don’t like the PLN or others in the Costa Rican government, many Americans feel the same, including Expats, toward the current and past U.S. Governments. You implied that things like this could cause trouble for Expats. I hope you aren’t implying violence.

        • Ben

          Violence will not happen but i can see large protest to happen soon. Most Expat in Costa Rica are not so happy with US political system or they would be there leaving in US. Lots of Expats are the ones that want to protest against US political system. I think 95% of Expats are good to Costa Rican. I have 25 US friend that i meet every month that are not afraid to express there view on US and CR political system. I see CR getting more upset with thing and if thing don´t change there would be protest like Greece. I know Violence does nothing served the US military machine enough said.

          • expatin paradise

            Some violence is inevitable when unrest exists, even if it is just misdirected individual violent criminal activity. As for US citizens being here for political reasons, I have to disagree (although is was a strong factor in my case) – most I know came here for economic reasons that no longer look as strong as they once did; and most of those would fit right in with the tea-party controlled US – basically libertarian when it comes to anything that impedes their ability to exploit others. Most expect to receive everything they have “earned” from the US government while resent paying taxes to fund “entitlements” of others, ignoring the hypocrisy of that double standard. It would be interesting to know where your expat friends fall on the political spectrum.

            I didn’t get your point about Ticos being upset about losing their land. The only people I hear about losing their land are foreign investors who lose land to squatters aided by unethical lawyers. So many foreigners have lost property in that manner that CR has a bad reputation internationally – it seems that whenever CR is mentioned in the US, the mention is followed by an anecdote about someone who lost their investment that way. I really would like to know more about the way in which Ticos are losing their land.

            Ticos have plenty to be upset about regarding US policies and the exploitation by big corporations outside CR. CAFTA/TLC was too large a concession to US corporate interests. CAFTA and other economic policies in this country have driven the cost of living up so high that most working-class Ticos barely scrape by – if not for the Caja, people would be dying in large numbers from lack of medical care. I do not expect for demonstrations to bring any results to foreign policy with the US – there is a very vocal opposition to these surveillance programs in the US. The US is engaged in class warfare and are concerned with anything outside the US, including the longest war in US history. Besides, the dance of protests to demonstrate discontent here is very civilized but essentially ineffective, other than allowing some people to let off steam by stopping traffic and inconveniencing others. They ultimately get the same minor concessions from the government that would have been achieved in other societies by simple negotiation. If not for the lack of productivity that results, the dance would be comical.

          • Ben

            Here is my point on Costa Rican losing land the average Costa Rica that make $1000 a month can not afford $350.000 dollar home. The price have been driven up by US and Expats and rich taking more than they need. I know three expats that own homes here and stay 2 week a year in Costa Rica that mean there house is empty 50 weeks a year. I know many Expats and rich Expats that live in CR 1 Month a year in country and have 10 +acres of land is this fair to Costa Rica that want a piece of land to live on a raise there family. Can Costa Rica come to US and buy land no they can not. I own a coffee farm and 5 years ago i gave every staff menber that has works with me 400 meter of land to build they all built 24 homes on 24 lots. All staff work year around and i do profit sharing with everyone of them. I am just saying Costa Rican deserve a peice of land before everyone else. Expats need to look at the big picture and if they can help someone out it better for Costa Rican and help CR in the future. Most of my Expat friends are Left center leaning types and hate the Super rich that buy house in CR and never live in Country. Most of My Expat buddies are ex military and hate what they did in the name of freedom. Most of my Expat freinds defend poor before the Rich.

          • expatin paradise

            I see your point – certainly investment by foreigners whose standards of living have driven up property values. On the flip side, for every gringo who paid high prices for real estate here, some Costa Rican landowner got a good payoff. Prices go up in response to the increased demand presented by foreigners, but it is the same aristocratic wealthy and powerful Costa Rican families who have always exploited the Tico working class who are asking and getting those prices.

            I agree that those who can afford to do so should contribute to the welfare of others who are less fortunate here, and I find it ludicrous that Gringos here bitch about the taxes. It sounds as if you have done well financially and have spread the wealth. It also sounds as if you have befriended some expats who are not typical of most I run into here, some I wouldn’t mind having as friends. As for those who build expensive vacation homes that stand vacant, I hope that they at least pay their luxury-home tax and employ Tico caretakers (and pay the caja and other appropriate taxes) to protect their real estate.

            The problem here, in the US, and about everywhere else worldwide is that a very few people have most of the wealth and live off the misery of the rest of us, and the gap between the wealthy and the rest of us is widening. In the US, the Wal-mart heirs alone hold more wealth than the bottom 40% of people in the US. I’m sure that,if it were possible to lift the veil on who owns what in Costa Rica, we would learn that the same division exists here, and that it might be even more extreme. Of course, the difference in this regard between the US and Latin America is that here this dynamic has existed since the Spanish first arrived. I believe that this is one reason that working-class Ticos have such a reputation for complacency and patience – they are accustomed to accepting whatever the powerful allow them.

          • Ben

            Your right Rich get Rich and the rest get the rest meaning poor get poor. I love the fact that people think owning a car and a nice home is the most important thing it is not. If you grow your own food and can live on your own terms and your better off.

          • Ben

            Its time to say that everyone really knows that Right sided goverments have hurt more poor people that left sided goverments. Right sided goverment hate poor and hate poor countries thats a fact. Right Side goverments sell everything and sortly after they go bust. Its time that everyone know its not bad to eat and have a small houses and not to be super rich. The US form of getting rich is joke for most US citizens. How many home foreclosed in 2008 30 millon+ because everyone was told buy a house and your house is going to go up in price. US economy is a false economy its fake. US goverment bails out banks but not the average person during the crises in 2008. Lets help the poor and not focus on making a few rich and more richer. PLN have hurt CR with Cafta and selling what little Costa Rica has left. Help the small farmers, Help small business, Hire local people. Buy Local. Build small house for families not large house that only 2 people live in.

    • Ben

      Your comments are off the mark. Wake up and look aroung Costa Rican are Upset. US need to come clean now.

      • Frank Castle

        Ben,

        Nothing surprises me about our Lord Obama. Us law abiding American citizens are just as upset with all the spying they do here in the States on our own citizens. Go ahead, Ben, you and the Costa Rican people should demand answers but don’t expect to get anything from the likes of Obama, Holder, etc..We haven’t even got the real truth about Fast and Furious and Benghazi. It’s really tragic and infuriating at the same time.

        • expatin paradise

          I have a problem with the spying crap, too, but this started with the Bush-Cheney paranoia machine and was sanctioned by Congress during W’s administration, and was well in place and operating independently (a rogue agency) before Obama was ever made aware of it.

          This is another example of activity started by the Bush administration to destabilize the Cuban government USAID’s “democracy promotion” work in Cuba was spurred by a large boost in
          funding under the Bush administration and a new focus on providing
          communications technology to Cubans. U.S. funding for Cuban aid
          multiplied from $3.5 million in 2000 to $45 million in 2008. It’s now
          $20 million. Why the US has continued this cold war with Cuba while doing business with Russia and China is a mystery to any sane person.

          As for Benghazi, it was an isolated incident that was minor compared to multiple similar incidents at US embassies during W’s administration. You regurgitate Faux News talking points like one of their pundits – I didn’t know that we even got that right-wing propaganda channel here.

          • Frank Castle

            Excuse me, I’m not a FoxNews watcher, Mr. Broadbrush. Having a U.S. ambassador being killed in a consulate is not a minor issue and is made worse when the admistration lied about it.

      • disgusted

        Ben, Just saying this was two years ago! No one in my circle who are Costarricese seem upset over this and some never heard about it till I told them. They seem more preoccupied about their job and paying the bills each month. The USA will never come clean on anything right now. Try and get a straight answer on Benghazi, NSA, IRS and so on never going to happen.

  • roberto

    The Mouse that Roared!

  • Daffy

    Costa Rica has caught the US embassy engaging in espionage and terrorism using Costa Rica as a base of operation.

    The Costa Rica government has no balls.

    They need to kick out the US ambassador and close the US embassy. The USA is putting Costa Rica at risk.

    I say kick out the US ambassador or get a few billion from the USA to pay for the problems they cause.

  • Luis Diego Campos

    Soon the chinesse will open up a chinesse restaurant on the corner near the US ambasy here in ticoland and will spy the shit out of the gringos,but I dont personally think they will get useful info other than expat ssn,list of fugitive names,list of hookers names and phone numbers that the US embassy staff usually called to fulfilled their sexual animal….