The Associated Press continued spreading its myth that a single, US-government run Twitter account could somehow destabilize the apartheid police state of Cuba. In today’s version of events, it cited former Directorate of Intelligence officer Arturo Lopez-Levy as claiming he could be victimized by the Castro regime for his own (alleged) efforts to bring technology to Cuba. Seriously? Spy-turned-propaganda spokesman Lopez-Levy afraid of his own in-laws? Just another example of how truly pathetic Cuba’s influence operations have become — and how uninformed and lazy many US journalists CHOOSE to be.
“Cuban Twitter” Heads to Hearings in Congress
By Alberto Arce, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — The head of the U.S. government agency that secretly created a “Cuban Twitter” communications network designed to undermine the communist government in Cuba is expected to testify next week before a senator who thinks the whole idea was “dumb, dumb, dumb.” The congressional hearing could resolve key questions around the clandestine program, including whether the Obama administration adequately informed lawmakers about its plans.
Administration officials on Thursday defended the program, saying it had been “debated” by Congress and wasn’t a covert operation that required White House approval. But two senior Democrats on congressional intelligence and judiciary committees said they had known nothing about the effort.
An Associated Press investigation found that the network was built using secret shell companies and financed through a foreign bank. The project, which lasted more than two years and drew tens of thousands of subscribers, sought to evade Cuba’s stranglehold on the Internet with a social media platform.
The program aimed first to build a Cuban audience, mostly young people. Then the plan was to push them toward dissent.
But the Cuban users of the network, called ZunZuneo, were not aware it was created by the U.S. Agency for International Development, overseen by the State Department. They also did not know that American contractors running the program were gathering personal data about them, in the hope that the information might be used someday for political purposes.
U.S. law requires written authorization of covert action by the president. White House spokesman Jay Carney said Thursday he was not aware of individuals in the White House who had known about the program.
Josefina Vidal, director of U.S. affairs at Cuba’s Foreign Ministry, said late Thursday that the ZunZuneo program “shows once again that the United States government has not renounced its plans of subversion against Cuba, which have as their aim the creation of situations of destabilization in our country to create changes in the public order and toward which it continues to devote multimillion-dollar budgets each year.”
“The government of the United States must respect international law and the goals and principles of the United Nations charter and, therefore, cease its illegal and clandestine actions against Cuba, which are rejected by the Cuban people and international public opinion,” the statement said.
Feature continues here: “Cuban Twitter” Heads to Hearings in Congress
Prensa Latina (PRELA) reports that released spy Fernando González Llort spoke late last week at a National Assembly session. He was accompanied by fellow spy René González.
Fernando González used the opportunity to thank his Cuban 5 colleagues, the Castro brothers, “the Cuban government and the Communist Party for the efforts and constant support to their cause and family” noted PRELA. He also praised the global propaganda campaigns undertaken by the International Committee for the Freedom of the Five and Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP).
Editor’s Note: ICAP’s intelligence collaboration with the Directorate of Intelligence (DI) dates back over three decades. It is not a DI entity per se, but is believed to be roughly 90% DI-affiliated due to a large pool of collaborators who serve the small team of ICAP-embedded DI officers.
Prensa Latina (PRELA) announced that Adriana Perez, wife of imprisoned spy Gerardo Hernandez, “was awarded the Silver Dove international prize” for her efforts in support of the Cuban Five. The honor appears to have been bestowed by a little-known group called the Central Council of the International Union of World Leaders.
The award ceremony was held in Moscow at the headquarters of the Russian presidency. According to PRELA, other honorees included citizens from Russia, Japan, the United Arab Emirates, India, Ukraine, Poland and Macedonia. PRELA reported that the awards recognize contributions to “social, cultural, moral and spiritual traditions.”
Editor’s Note: PRELA failed to report was that Adriana Pérez O’Connor was in training as a Directorate of Intelligence (DI) asset when the Wasp Network (La Red Avispa) was brought down in September 1998. She and her children were deported and permanently banned re-entry visas. Her mission had been to courier messages and material between Havana and Miami.
- Todo empezó con 29 agentes que llegaron en 1997 a ayudar a Hugo Chávez
- Ahora miles de cubanos trabajan y controlan la Administración pública venezolana
- Prohibo tener amigos venezolanos
By Cristina Marcano, El Pais Internacional
Cuando el doctor Janoi González aterrizó en el aeropuerto internacional Simón Bolívar, de Venezuela se sintió como si no hubiera salido de Cuba. “No había un solo venezolano, la estructura estaba dirigida por cubanos”, afirma refiriéndose a una parte de la zona bajo control militar conocida como Rampa 4, de exclusivo uso oficial. El experto en radiodiagnóstico, natural de Pinar del Río, entró al país un mediodía de diciembre de 2012 sin que sus documentos fueran revisados por autoridad venezolana alguna. “No hay chequeo de migración. Unos funcionarios cubanos te dan unas palabras de bienvenida, vivas a Chávez y a la revolución, y te ponen un cuño [sello] en el pasaporte”. Ese sello dice: “Válido solo Cuba Venezuela.”
Janoi González es uno de los miles de cooperantes enviados por La Habana a Venezuela y, como muchos de ellos, se vio sometido a unas pésimas condiciones de trabajo y a una vigilancia aún más estrecha que la que normalmente sufre en su país natal. “Se cobraba una basura: 1.200 bolívares [entonces 200 euros según el cambio oficial y 50 en el mercado negro]“. Carecía de libertad de movimientos y vivía hacinado. Al principio tuvo que compartir con seis personas una habitación de 20 metros cuadrados en un motel de Guanare, la capital agrícola de Venezuela. Luego, en la cercana Acarigua, eran “17 en cinco habitaciones, con un solo baño”, detalla por teléfono desde Estados Unidos, adonde escapó en 2013.
Si se observa detenidamente el mapa de América, Cuba luce como una pequeña lengua, un jirón de tierra que pareciera flotar a la deriva. Nada más lejos de la realidad. Anclada en una vieja dictadura comunista, la isla ha tenido claro dónde encontrar dólares para mantenerse a flote. En los últimos 15 años, esa lengua de 108.000 kilómetros cuadrados, con una de las economías más atrasadas, ha logrado saciar su apetito en Venezuela, un país nueve veces más grande, tres veces más poblado y con enormes recursos; entre ellos, las mayores reservas de crudo del mundo.
La Habana recibe diariamente de Caracas más de 100.000 barriles de petróleo en condiciones preferentes, que paga con trabajadores de la salud. Además, obtiene inversiones directas, créditos blandos, subsidios y millonarios contratos como intermediario de importaciones venezolanas de alimentos, bienes y equipos a terceros países.
By Fabiola Sanchez & Frank Bajak, Associated Press
VALENCIA, Venezuela — The masked gunmen emerged from a group of several dozen motorcycle-mounted government loyalists who were attempting to dismantle a barricade in La Isabelica, a working-class district of Valencia that has been a center of unrest since nationwide protests broke out last month.
The barricades’ defenders had been hurling rocks, sticks and other objects at the attackers, who included perhaps a dozen armed men, witnesses told The Associated Press.
Lisandro Barazarte, a photographer with the local newspaper, Notitarde, caught images of several of the men shooting into the crowd while steadying their firearms on their palms.
“They were practiced shooters,” Barazarte said. “More were armed, but didn’t fire.”
When it was over, two La Isabelica men were dead: a 22-year-old student, Jesus Enrique Acosta, and a little league baseball coach, Guillermo Sanchez. Witnesses told the AP the first was shot in the head, the second in the back. They said neither was at the barricades when he was killed.
Similar shootings across Venezuela by gunmen allied with the socialist-led government have claimed at least seven lives and left more than 30 people wounded since the anti-government protests began in mid-February.
President Nicolas Maduro has done nothing to publicly discourage the violence by armed pro-government militants, loosely known as “colectivos,” which are also blamed for scores more cases of beatings and intimidation in multiple cities. That includes a March 19 incursion into the architecture academy at the Central University of Venezuela in the capital in which some 40 masked men and women identifying themselves as government defenders bloodied at least a dozen students.
In fact, since the protests began, Maduro and his vice president have each welcomed pro-government “motorizados,” or motorcyclists, to separate events at the presidential palace — a Feb. 24 rally and a “peace conference” on March 13.
Read more here: Armed Pro-Govt Militias Roil Venezuela Protests
The Prensa Latina (PRELA) news agency – a long-time Cuban Intelligence collaborator – announced earlier today that the Alianza Martiana announced plans for a Sunday forum demanding the immediate release of Havana’s three remaining incarcerated spies. The two intelligence officers — Gerardo Hernandez and Ramón Labañino — as well as their agent, Antonio Guerrero — were part of the Wasp Network, a vast espionage operation run jointly by the Directorate of Intelligence (DI) and the highly secretive Directorate of Military Intelligence (DIM). The spy ring’s main focus was US military targets from Key West, Florida to northwestern Louisiana.
Alianza Martiana planners also intend to again bemoan Cuba’s alleged difficulty in working with US banks and call on President Obama to end the US embargo. Held in central Miami, the gathering has become a quarterly event of South Florida’s tiny but vocal community of pro-Castro supporters.
(The Economist) Less than three months into his presidency, Nicols Maduro is struggling to fend off challenges to his authority from radicals, soldiers and Cuban spies.
By Christine Armario (AP) KEY WEST, Fla. — At face value, they are three old planes not worth much more than their parts and scrap metal. Stolen from the Cuban government during a six-month period ending in April 2003 — two by hijackers, one by its pilot — all three landed at Key West International Airport, a 116-mile flight from struggling Havana to the gleaming shores of the U.S.
Fidel Castro repeatedly demanded the planes be returned. Instead, they were seized by U.S. courts to satisfy part of a $27 million judgment won by a Cuban-American woman who had unwittingly married a Cuban spy in Miami.
The story of what happened to the planes in the ensuing years reads like another chapter in the history of stymied, contentious U.S.-Cuba relations, with the new owners unable to get the planes anywhere.
The first of the three planes to land in Key West was a yellow, Soviet-built crop-duster that pilot Nemencio Carlos Alonso Guerra used to fly seven passengers, many of them relatives, to the U.S. in November 2002.
Cuba wanted the biplane back, but a Florida judge agreed with Ana Margarita Martinez that it should be seized and sold to partially pay the judgment she was awarded under an anti-terrorism law. In 1996, her husband, Juan Pablo Roque, had fled back to Cuba after infiltrating the Miami-based anti-Castro group Brothers to the Rescue. The next day, Cuban fighter jets shot down two of the group’s Cessnas over international waters, killing four pilots.
The aging Antonov AN-2 Colt was auctioned at the Key West airport in 2003 and Martinez placed the highest bid, $7,000.
“We had a victory — we got to keep this property of the Cuban government,” Martinez said after the auction.
She hoped to sell it for a profit later but instead gave it to Cuban-American artist Xavier Cortada, who painted half of it with a colorful mural as part of an exhibit commemorating Cuba’s independence.
After the exhibit, Cortada eventually donated the plane to Florida International University, which planned to display it but couldn’t find a building to house it. Today, it deteriorates under tarps on a far corner of FIU’s campus.
Article continues here: Hijacked Cuban planes still caught in limbo
Key Figures at the Head of the Oppressive Alliance
By Pedro Roig, The Canal [Blog of the PanAm Post]
The rebellion of the Venezuelan youth, demanding the end of Nicolás Maduro’s presidency, has brought into the forefront the nature of a regime that can be defined as a highly corrupt narco-terrorist state supported by Cuban military forces and Colombian drug cartels.
Venezuela, a country of 29 million people, is blessed with a good climate, rich land, the largest oil reserve in the world and access to major industrial markets. It has every expectation of prospering and becoming a modern, wealthy state. Yet the ruling oligarchy, led by the late-Hugo Chávez and now Nicolás Maduro, understood their revolutionary goal as a right to pillage the national wealth, turning the country into a decrepit caricature of Cuba’s Marxist failure and a secure route for Colombia’s narco-guerrilla to smuggle cocaine to the international markets.
The Cuban Connection
First and foremost, the Maduro government hold to power depends to a large extent on Cuba’s special forces of the Ministry of the Interior (MININT) estimated at over 7,000. This is not counting medical and other support personnel (over 30,000) deployed throughout Venezuela.
In addition, Cubans helped train several thousand trusted Chavistas. Called collectivos, these motorcycle gangs can be seen in the videos and pictures helping the National Guard repress peaceful protests and shooting unarmed students (presently, more than 25 students have been murdered and over 300 hundred wounded).
Currently, General Raul Castro has several high ranking officers providing tactical and strategic advice to the Venezuelans, including General Leonardo Ramón Andollo, second chief of the general staff of the Ministry of the Armed Forces (MINFAR), Comandante Ramiro Valdés, former head of Cuba’s MININT, and General Carlos Fernández Gondin, second in command of the Ministry of Interior. The first two have spent extended periods of time in Venezuela organizing Cuba’s support for Venezuela’s repressive apparatus:
“Comandante Histórico” Ramiro Valdés was trained by the efficient and brutal East-German intelligence agency (STASI). Valdes was the first chief of Cuba’s repressive intelligence force (G-2). He is now Vice President of the Council of State and member of Cuba’s Communist Party Politburo. Valdes has remained in Venezuela for extended periods analyzing intelligence information on Venezuelan military, active and potential opposition officers and retaliatory tactics to be enforced.
Ramón Andollo is a highly trusted link between Colombia’s narco-guerilla FARC and Venezuela’s Armed Forces officers. For over 15 years, General Andollo has been the principal liaison between the Colombian and Venezuelan drug cartels. He has spent extended periods of time in Venezuela. It is reported by MININT defectors that General Andollo has met with Colombian guerrilla leaders in safe areas controlled by the Venezuelan Cartel de los Soles.
Second in Command of Cuba’s Ministry of Interior (MININT), General Fernández Gondin and his staff officers are in overall command of MININT’s Special Forces (over 7,000) deployed in Venezuela.
Feature continues here: Venezuela-Cuba Military Cooperation and the Narco-Terrorist Connection