How Informers Prolong Agony Under The Cuban Dictatorship 1

The communist dictatorship is still in power in Cuba thanks, in large part, to the informer system. (Facebook)

7.6 million of the 12 million Cubans are members of the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution. The regime rewards them or exposing its opponents.

By Mamela Fiallo Flor, PanAm Post

The longest dictatorship on the American continent is still in control after 60 years, thanks mainly to its job of infiltration in civil society that “purges” the streets of dissidents.

Its latest target was a 77-year-old woman who sells peanuts in the streets out of necessity, thus dismantling the propaganda of a welfare state that supposedly guarantees the care of all its inhabitants.

The visibly malnourished state of the lady, as well as her testimony, makes it clear that Cuba is not the utopia that its defenders claim.

The informers serving the regime, or “chivatones” as the opposition refers to them, reported this “counter-revolutionary” to the police because she exposes to the tourists the fact that the Cubans are suffering without necessities.

Two women, who claimed to work in the education sector, rebuked the older woman for not asking the government for help and instead receiving clothes and money from tourists. They screamed at her, saying that 5% of their salary went to the service of older people like her and questioned her for speaking ill about the government.

The allocation of funds that the regime steals from state employees is not public information because publishing official statistics is a mandate of the dictatorship.

The old lady had hand-wrapped peanut packages. She testified before cameras that she had been selling them for 30 years. She maintains that she does not harm anyone. Apparently, she is damaging the image of the regime, and her action was reason enough to be reported to the police.

According to the logic of state employees, it was reprehensible for a woman to work autonomously, rather than being dependent on the state and therefore on the taxpayer. Meanwhile, they think it is respectable to live at the expense of others, as they do working for the regime.

Feature continues here: Snitch-Nation

 

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Special Report: How Cuba Taught Venezuela to Quash Military Dissent 1


Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez (R) with Cuban President Fidel Castro.

By Angus Berwick, Reuters

CARACAS (Reuters) – In December 2007, Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez suffered his first defeat at the polls.

Although still wildly popular among the working class that had propelled him to power nearly a decade earlier, voters rejected a referendum that would have enabled him to run for re-election repeatedly.

Stung, Chavez turned to a close confidant, according to three former advisors: Fidel Castro. The aging Cuban leader had mentored Chavez years before the Venezuelan became president, when he was still best known for leading a failed coup.

Now, deepening economic ties were making Cuba ever more reliant on oil-rich Venezuela, and Castro was eager to help Chavez stay in power, these advisors say. Castro’s advice: Ensure absolute control of the military.

Easier said than done.

Venezuela’s military had a history of uprisings, sometimes leading to coups of the sort that Chavez, when a lieutenant colonel in the army, had staged in 1992. A decade later, rivals waged a short-lived putsch against Chavez himself.

But if Chavez took the right steps, the Cuban instructed, he could hang on as long as Castro himself had, the advisors recalled. Cuba’s military, with Castro’s brother at the helm, controlled everything from security to key sectors of the economy.

Within months, the countries drew up two agreements, recently reviewed by Reuters, that gave Cuba deep access to Venezuela’s military – and wide latitude to spy on it and revamp it.

The agreements, specifics of which are reported here for the first time, led to the imposing of strict surveillance of Venezuelan troops through a Venezuelan intelligence service now known as the Directorate General of Military Counterintelligence, or DGCIM.

Under Cuban military advisors, Venezuela refashioned the intelligence unit into a service that spies on its own armed forces, instilling fear and paranoia and quashing dissent.

Now known for its repressive tactics, the DGCIM is accused by soldiers, opposition lawmakers, human rights groups and many foreign governments of abuses including torture and the recent death of a detained Navy captain.

Feature continues here: Crushing Opposition

 

 

 

Under A Watchful Eye: Cyber Surveillance in Cuba 1

In Cuba the possibility of state surveillance is never far away. (Photo: IWPR)

Public access to the internet has increased, but the state remains vigilant.
By Yoe Suárez, Institute For War & Peace Reporting

Álvaro felt like a spy during his four years working as a network administrator at the state news agency Prensa Latina (PL).

“Part of my work was maintaining computers,” he explained. “But sometimes my boss ordered me to monitor what a reporter or worker was Googling or looking at.”

Although this was not among the duties that he had signed up for when he joined the country’s most important news agency, Álvaro never questioned his superior’s orders.

“Then, I’d see the people that I’d been monitoring in the lunchroom or on the street and I felt terrible,” he said. “I tried to act naturally but I couldn’t stop thinking about the personal things I knew about them.”

In an office behind closed doors, Álvaro accessed other people’s computers, taking screenshots that he then filed. Sometimes he accessed private emails or instant messages during the screening process. The assignments even included monitoring the private communications of journalists about to travel outside Cuba as PL correspondents.

“It was a way of making sure that they wouldn’t abandon the ‘mission’ or make contact with inappropriate people abroad,” he said.

Ahead of trips abroad, reporters had to go through a verification process that included interviews with the heads of whatever political organizations they belonged to, references from the leaders of their Committee for the Defense of the Revolution, and a final verification from the Ministry of the Interior (MININT). Once deemed trustworthy, the reporters still had to go through the final filter of cyber surveillance at their place of work.

“In political and social organisations, people are being constantly evaluating others and it’s taken into account for anything, from getting a university position to deciding if you can be trusted for a job,” said Jesús Adonis Martínez, the agency’s correspondent in Caracas for two years. “In a totalitarian country everyone’s tracks are filed away.”

“There is even more surveillance for journalists who have collaborated with foreign or independent media,” added Álvaro, who asked to remain anonymous even though he no longer works for the agency.

“What they made me do was wrong,” he concluded.

Article continues here: Cyber-spying