WASHINGTON (AP) -- USAID's secret Cuban Twitter program hired Alen Lauzan Falcon, a Havana-born satirical artist based in Chile, to propose text messages to be sent to Cuban users. Neither Lauzan nor the Cuban subscribers realized the U.S. government was behind ZunZuneo, the social media network.
Last Thursday, State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said "no political content was ever supplied by anyone working on this project or running it. It was the people -- the Cuban people on the ground who were doing so."
But in an interview Tuesday, Lauzan said he does only political work.
In a series of linked messages, obtained by The Associated Press, Lauzan had imagined Cuban President Raul Castro teaming with the now-deceased Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez as a pop act who would dance the "perreo," a twerk-like Caribbean dance associated with the tropical genre reggaeton, and record songs with titles mocking their countries' economic and social policies.
Said one text: "'The economy is not our thing' by the Hugo and Raul duo is already a hit."
The messages, written in Spanish and presented here in translation, are full of puns, cultural references and in-jokes that would mystify most outsiders but would be readily understandable by islanders.
Here is a sample of the messages Lauzan wrote for ZunZuneo:
THE BACKWARDS WORLD
54% of Americans think Michael Jackson is alive and 86% of Cubans think Fidel Castro is dead.
GRAB THE CLAWS!
Fidel Castro Ruz's nails are cut after fifty-one years. They will be donated in Formal Ceremony to the Museum of Manicurevolution.
(Note: "Manicurevolution" is a play on "manicure" and Havana's Museum of the Revolution.)
Latest: Cuban dies of electrical shock from laptop. "I told you so," declares a satisfied Ramiro. "Those machines are weapons of the enemy!"
(Note: Ramiro Valdes is a Cuban vice president and former communications minister who once famously described the Internet as a "wild colt" that "should be tamed.")
Hot news! Latest!: Cuba YES, laptops NO! Ramiro, firm: "We are too old and revolutionary for that, dude, the cellphone is enough for us!"
FROM RUMBA TO REGGAETUMBA
The coma-andante testified in "Hysteria will Bury me" his desire to be buried with MP3 of Baby Lores.
NO: TOO POLITICAL (Apparent rejection of this text)
(Note: "Coma-andante" is a pun on "comandante," the honorific commonly attributed to Fidel Castro; the Spanish-language play on words translates roughly to "walking comatose," a dig at Castro's age and shaky health in recent years. "Hysteria will Bury me" references Castro's revolutionary prison manifesto, "History will absolve me." Baby Lores is another reggaeton singer.)
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