The network was called ZunZuneo, which was a play on twitter, with the word being slang for a Cuban hummingbird’s tweet. The project was financed by the US Agency for international development (USAID), best known for overseeing billions of dollars in US humanitarian aid.
USAID staff had noted that text messaging had been a popular fuse in starting political uprisings in Moldova and the Philippines. At its peak, the site had more than 40,000 subscribers, who were never aware that the network was created by the US government.
"There will be absolutely no mention of United States government involvement," according to a 2010 memo from Mobile Accord, one of the project’s contractors. "This is absolutely crucial for the long-term success of the service and to ensure the success of the mission."
To try and hide their tracks, they used a maze of different companies, with a bank account from the Cayman Islands to make sure that no one could ever find out this was an operation set up by the United States.
Although the project had hoped to obtain 400,000 subscribers, they eventually decided to cap the number at 40,000 by the end March 2011, which was less than one percent of the population of Cuba.
Interest was being lost in the project with every month that passed, and, by the summer of 2012, Cubans began to complain that the service was inconsistent, and then one day it just disappeared.