Costa Rica says it is waiting for the Obama administration to explain why it launched a secret social network intended to stir political unrest in Cuba from an office in San José despite the fact Costa Rica warned the United States a year earlier that the issue could cause diplomatic tensions between the countries.
The controversy surrounds a secretly created social network launched in 2010 known as ZunZuneo. The Twitter-like service was aimed at undermining Cuba’s communist government, according to the Associated Press, which broke the story on April 4th.
The goal was to create a social network that could reach hundreds of thousands of Cubans while remaining hidden from the Cuban government by utilizing cell phone text messaging.
Those in charge of the plan intended to build a subscriber base by initially distributing “non-controversial content” such as updates on soccer, music, and hurricane forecasts. Later, when the service had reached mass, officials would introduce political content aimed at sparking mass gatherings on short notice that might trigger a “Cuban Spring,” according to the Associated Press.
The service ultimately grew to more than 40,000 Cuban subscribers who shared news and opinions, unaware that the service was the work of the US government.
In an interview this week with the Associated Press, Costa Rican Foreign Minister, Enrique Castillo said any activities to affect other countries should not be carried out from Costa Rican soil.
“I think it’s inappropriate to use an embassy in Costa Rica for this type of operation that harms a third country,” Castillo told AP.
In a report on Tuesday, La Nacion revealed that Costa Rica’s Foreign Ministry warned the U.S. Embassy in June 2009 that the plan could lead to “political difficulties” for Costa Rica, and refused to grant diplomatic status to two U.S. government contractors involved in the program.
“It may be that there were illegalities committed while this program was being executed, but that is solely the responsibility of the U.S. government,” Castillo said on Tuesday.
Despite a collection of documents obtained by the Associated Press indicating that there would be absolutely no mention of U.S. government involvement in the program, the Obama administration said earlier this month that the program was not covert.
ZunZuneo vanished in mid-2012, allegedly after funding for the program ran out.