The U.S. Agency for International Development is launching a USD3 million initiative to support ‘marginalized groups’ and promote economic development in Cuba.
The groups targeted by the program include people living in rural communities, orphans and vulnerable children, people with disabilities, ethnic and religious minorities, rural women, private farmers and small business owners, according to USAID documents seen by the Miami Herald.
The program, for which USAID has started soliciting proposals, is designed to boost entrepreneurial activities and self-employment in Cuba, the agency explained according to the Miami Herald. Its launch coincides with Cuban President Raul Castro’s efforts to spur private economic activities in the country.
Word of Caution
Recognizing the Cuban government’s history of animosity toward USAID programs in the country, the agency has issued a warning regarding the new program.
“Given the nature of the Cuban regime and the political sensitivity of the USAID Program, USAID cannot be held responsible for any injury or inconvenience suffered by individuals traveling to the island under USAID grant funding,” it said in a letter quoted by the Miami Herald.
As reported by Devex, the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee temporarily suspended in April 2010 all U.S. democracy assistance programs to the country following the arrest of a USAID subcontractor engaged in a telecommunications project in the country. The U.S. has since lifted the ban.