The Los Angeles-based company, Canyon Communications, is a public relations firm that specializes in writing “corporate histories.” Founded by Jeff Kline, the company was offered the no-bid contract because of what government officials said was its “unique profile.”
The Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB), funded by the U.S. government through the presidentially appointed Broadcasting Board of Governors, runs Radio and Television Marti and has its headquarters in Miami, Florida.
In 2006, The New York Times revealed that OCB paid 10 journalists to work for Radio and TV Marti. The Miami Herald fired three of the journalists from El Nuevo Herald after learning they were receiving money from the Bush Administration.
The OCB’s interventions in Cuba have found their echo in more recent attempts by the U.S to use modern media to destabilize Cuba’s socialist system.
A scandal broke out in April when the U.S. was found to be engaged in “battle” with Cuba on the social media front. This latest onslaught was carried out under the guise of ZunZuneo, a social media platform targeted to Cuban users.
Funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), ZunZuneo was intended to spark dissent against the Cuban government. In USAID’s own words, the project was designed to “renegotiate the balance of power between the state and society.”
ZunZuneo, set up with the help of high-tech contracting firms from Nicaragua and Costa Rica, eventually reached over 40,000 Cubans. The contractors, together with USAID, set up an equally elaborate scheme of front companies using Cayman Islands bank accounts to hide the venture from the Cuban government. New executive recruits were also not told about ZunZuneo’s ties to the U.S. government.