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Cuba slams US funding for 'democracy promotion' programs as illegal

Cuba's Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Carlos Fernandez de Cossio speaks during an interview in Havana, Cuba. (Photo by Reuters)

Cuba has slammed US funding for "democracy promotion" programs as interventionist and illegal, aimed at toppling the government amid ongoing worst economic crisis.

The programs - which over several decades have spent upwards of $200 million on Cuba-related projects - in fact leverage foreign funding to foment unrest on the island, the country's Vice Foreign Minister told Reuters in Havana on Friday.

"In any nation, this is illegal," he said, noting the United States has legislation against people who act as foreign government agents.

"That is precisely what the United States is trying to promote in Cuba today," he added.

In July, the Biden administration announced a call for applications to award up to $6.25 million to nongovernmental organizations and individuals as part of a program authorized by US law to "promote peaceful, nonviolent democratic change in Cuba".

"They are depressing the standard of living of the population and at the same time pouring millions of US taxpayer dollars into urging people to act against the (Cuban) government," De Cossio said.

The island nation, which is currently facing its worst economic crisis in decades amid US sanctions, announced electricity blackouts this month.

Along with soaring food, fuel and medicine prices as shortage grips, people are observing long queues for basic necessities.

The US trade embargo, which has been in place against Cuba since 1962, was reinforced under former president Donald Trump. Trump’s successor has chosen to tread on the same path.

President Joe Biden, who initially distanced himself from his Republican predecessor, has not only retained Trump’s maximum pressure campaign on Cuba, but increased the sanctions.

Several prominent lawmakers in the US Congress, specifically Republicans, have also advocated direct intervention in Cuba, to the point of suggesting bombing strikes.

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