Cuban dissidents who were given millions of dollars by the US government to support democracy in their homeland instead blew money on computer games, cashmere sweaters, crabmeat and expensive chocolates, which were then sent to the island.
A scathing congressional audit of democracy-assistance programmes found “questionable expenditure” by several groups funded by Washington in opposition to President Fidel Castro’s rule on the communist Caribbean island.
The Miami-based Acción Democrática Cubana spent money on a chainsaw, Nintendo Game Boys and Sony PlayStations, mountain bikes, leather coats and Godiva chocolates, which the group says were all sent to Cuba. “These people are going hungry. They never get any chocolate there,” Juan Carlos Acosta, the group’s executive director, told the Miami Herald.
The audit analysed $65m of spending by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) from 1996 to 2005 and concluded that poor management was to blame for the waste. “There were weaknesses in agency policies and in programme office oversight, and internal control deficiencies,” the report states.