For more than two years, a U.S. agency secretly infiltrated Cuba's underground hip-hop movement, recruiting unwitting rappers to spark a youth movement against the government.
HAVANA (AP) – One of Cuba's most famous musicians is telling the U.S. Agency for International Development to "go to hell" for pulling his son and other island-based rappers without their knowledge into a scheme aimed at sparking a youth uprising against the Communist government.
Folk singer Silvio Rodriguez went onto his Segunda Cita blog this week to fill in his fellow Cubans with the details of the operation revealed by The Associated Press.
His defended his son, rapper Silvio Liam Rodriguez, and Aldo Rodriguez of the Cuban rap duo Los Aldeanos, who is not a member of their family. The two young musicians and a second member of Los Aldeanos now live in Florida because they say the Cuban government made it impossible for them to perform on the island.
"The AP's revelations about the insistent program of USAID are full of anecdotes, but more than anything they offer a clear lesson about manipulation and intervention" in Cuban affairs, Rodriguez wrote.
He issued a veiled knock at Cuban authorities as well. "Should an artist be automatically discredited just because he doesn't think like you?" Rodriguez asked.
The AP last week published the results of its investigation into U.S. efforts to infiltrate the island's hip-hop scene and use artists to unwittingly spark opposition to the Cuban government.
The scheme involved a Serbian music promoter who brought Los Aldeanos to Serbia for an international music festival and planned political training. Silvio Rodriguez was unwittingly drawn into the USAID effort when he lent his name to help get Aldo Rodriguez freed when he was jailed in Cuba, and to retrieve the young rapper's confiscated computer.
Adrian Monzon, who once worked with the Serbians and the USAID contractor Creative Associates, over the weekend confirmed via Facebook he was the only person involved in the project in Cuba who knew about the USAID connection. He now works at a Papa John's pizza restaurant in South Florida and has a small event planning company.
Members of Los Aldeanos, who spoke out against the government long before the USAID project, have said they never received any political training and are solely responsible for their music.
Silvio Rodriguez is well-known throughout Latin America as leader of the "nueva trova" folk music movement, and for his highly symbolic lyrics in songs such as "Playa Giron" and "Ojala."
He said on his blog that he and his son don't always agree, but called the young musicians "rebel spirits."
"They know that in many areas, I don't think like them, even though I insist on defending their right to think and say what they choose," Rodriguez wrote. "As a father, and as an artist, I hope they learn from what has happened to them that they take advantage of it. ... And may USAID go to hell."
Amidst the turmoil, USAID administrator Rajiv Shah is stepping down from the post after two years, according to a report by Foreign Policy. Shah, 42, is set to announce Wednesday that he will leave his post in January.