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On "Cuban Twitter," US Defends, UN Stonewalls Its Partner Eberhard's Role

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 3 -- The US, specifically its Agency for International Development, has defended its role in developing a faux / parallel "Cuban Twitter," exposed by the AP.

But USAID spokesperson Matt Herrick's statement does not address the United Nations link, on which UN deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq declined to comment on April 3.

  James Eberhard worked on and with the US strategy since at least July 2010. But he is also described as "James Eberhard, CEO and founder of GeoPoll... GeoPoll was recently used by the United Nations to complete its MY World global survey, bringing in 13 percent of total responses in weeks. It is also being used by the World Food Programme on an ongoing basis to assess nutrition access in specific regions within the Democratic Republic of the Congo."

Of this last, the UN itself said:

"In Democratic Republic of the Congo, a partnership with GeoPoll is helping us to conduct the poll via mobile surveys, so we will be able to gather data from large numbers of respondents who are otherwise unreachable in a country with limited internet connectivity.We expect to reach approximately 15,000-18,000 people in the DRC in the coming weeks."

Eberhard has spoken at the UN:

Forty-Ninth Session of the Commission for Social Development, 9 to 18 February 2011

Tuesday 8 February 2. Conference Room: D, NLB

Organizers: Division for Social Policy and Development, co-sponsored with Search for Common Ground

Theme: Youth-led Social Development and Young Philanthropy

Speakers: Mr. Ryan Allis, co-founded “iContact”; Mr. James Eberhard, Founder and Chairman, Mobile Accord.

So the UN and its WFP use Eberhard, who collabores with the US on a "Cuban Twitter." Shouldn't the UN answer this? Watch this site.

The US has issued this:

In reference to the Associated Press article on "Cuban Twitter" on April 3, 2014, USAID Spokesperson Matt Herrick issues the following statement:

"It is longstanding U.S. policy to help Cubans increase their ability to communicate with each other and with the outside world. Working with resources provided by Congress for exactly this purpose, USAID is proud of its work in Cuba to provide basic humanitarian assistance, promote human rights and universal freedoms, and to help information flow more freely to the Cuban people. All of our work in Cuba, including this project, was reviewed in detail in 2013 by the Government Accountability Office and found to be consistent with U.S. law and appropriate under oversight controls.

It is also no secret that in hostile environments, governments take steps to protect the partners we are working with on the ground. The purpose of the Zunzuneo project was to create a platform for Cubans to speak freely among themselves, period. At the initial stages, the grantee sent tech news, sports scores, weather, and trivia to build interest and engage Cubans. After that, Cubans were able to talk among themselves, and we are proud of that. USAID is a development agency and we work all over the world to help people exercise their universal rights and freedoms."

  But what about the UN?
the UN and its WFP use Eberhard, who collabores with the US on a "Cuban Twitter." Shouldn't the UN answer this?

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