Cuba’s Intelligence Masterstroke in Venezuela Reply

Poster of deceased Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez.

By Jose Miguel Alonso-Trabanco, GeoPoliticalMonitor.com

Much has been said about the behavior of Venezuela’s Bolivarian regime, its evolving character, its dramatic economic mismanagement, and the impact it has projected throughout the American hemisphere, including its bilateral ties to Cuba.

At a first glance, it would seem that – based on classical international relations scholarship referents when it comes to assessing national power such as population, territory, natural resources, and sheer economic size – Venezuela is the senior partner. Yet a crucial factor is missing to examine how the balance of power truly works in the dynamic framework of said bilateral relation.

Beyond the evident ideological, political, and diplomatic affinities between the rulers of both countries, the crucial factor that has been overlooked even by most experts is the strong presence and operational intensity of Cuban intelligence agencies in Venezuela. A different picture – one that challenges conventional wisdom – might emerge when one considers this angle.

Such a topic is important considering its deep geopolitical implications. It also raises pertinent questions: What if Venezuela is not necessarily the senior partner after all? The fact that it has not been addressed is perhaps a result of the intrinsically covert nature of intelligence activities. Moreover, both regimes are not precisely known for their compliance with basic transparency standards. In practice, that means relevant and reliable information about it is notoriously scarce. Nevertheless, the analysis of what open sources provide is useful to elaborate a more or less accurate – yet broad – situational assessment.

Profile of Cuban Intelligence Services

According to conventional wisdom, effective foreign intelligence capabilities are usually associated with great powers. The American CIA, the British MI6, the Israeli Mossad, the Russian SVR and the like often come to mind whenever the term is mentioned. Of course, such perception is hardly unjustified. In contrast, Cuba is certainly far from being a great power, yet the reach of its intelligence services must not be underestimated.

The Cuban Intelligence Directorate – known as G2 – was initially trained by the Soviet KGB and the Stasi, the East German Ministry of State Security, the strongest intelligence agencies of the Socialist bloc during the Cold War. Moreover, the resilience that has played a key role in the survival of the Cuban communist regime for six decades can be at least partially attributed to its intelligence services’ abilities to monitor internal dissent, consolidate political rule, and keep at bay external rivals. It is even said that Fidel Castro himself was the target of hundreds of unsuccessful assassination attempts.

It is known that the Cuban intelligence community recruits promising college students, especially from social science programs. Its training and methods are based on the development of professionalism rather than improvisation, unlike other Latin American intelligence agencies. Furthermore, a heavy ideological ingredient promotes a strong morale.

Another aspect worth emphasizing is that Cuban intelligence has not just assumed a defensive position. Actually, it has been remarkably active abroad for decades. For instance, it supported several Marxist insurgencies in Central and South America during the Cold War. It has also managed to infiltrate US national security agencies and Cuban American political groups hostile to Havana’s socialist regime.

Last but not least, Cuban intelligence supported the military involvement of the country’s armed forces in extra-regional operational theatres such as Angola, Vietnam, and even the Middle East during the Yom Kippur War.

In short, despite Cuba’s structural limitations – including its precarious economy – the country’s intelligence services represent a big asset in terms of power projection. In effect, they need to be understood as a substantial force multiplier.

Article continues here: Cubans in Venezuela

 

Advertisements

City of Secrets: A Real Spy Is Never Who You Think They Are 1

DIA analyst Ana Belen Montes, 44, was arrested on Sept. 21, 2001 and charged with conspiracy to deliver U.S. national defense information to Cuba. (Courtesy FBI)

By J.J. Green | @JJGreenWTOP June 19, 2019 4:50 am

In WTOP’s three-part series “City of Secrets,” WTOP National Security Correspondent J.J. Green talks to some of the best in the espionage game to find how spies have infiltrated Washington, D.C. and what can be done to catch them.

Nothing stood out about her.

She lived in a modest two-bedroom cooperative apartment on a quiet tree-lined street in D.C.’s Cleveland Park neighborhood. She drove a red 2000 Toyota Echo. She banked at Riggs Bank in the District’s Friendship Heights section. She was bright, engaging, trusted and well-adjusted at work.

But she was also something else.

Ana Belen Montes, 44, was a spy — engaged in one of the most devastating espionage operations in the history of the United States.

She was arrested on Sept. 21, 2001, and charged with conspiracy to deliver U.S. national defense information to Cuba.

Her arrest dealt a blow to the U.S. government, because she was a senior-level analyst at the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA).

Her cover worked perfectly until, according to FBI documents, “an astute DIA colleague — acting on a gut feeling — reported to a security official that he felt Montes might be under the influence of Cuban intelligence.”

Scott Carmichael, now a former senior security and counterintelligence investigator for the Defense Intelligence Agency, was that “astute colleague.”

Another colleague who had suspicions was Chris Simmons, former chief of the Americas team with DIA’s counterintelligence research unit.

“There were gatherings in D.C. at various academic forums where Cuban intelligence officers would show up to do presentations, and she and other DIA employees went there. But they were warned by security to stop attending because ‘you’re at risk,’” Simmons said.

All the others stopped attending, he said, “but she refused.”

It wasn’t until she received an ultimatum, according to Simmons — “stop attending or get fired” — that she ceased going to the events.

Montes was so skilled at spying that during her years at DIA, even though security officials learned about her foreign policy views and were concerned about her access to sensitive information, they had no concrete reason to believe she was sharing secrets. Besides, she had passed a polygraph.

Feature continues here: Real Spies

 

 

 

Report: Cuban Spy Documents Target Security at Miami’s Airport. MIA Says No Breach. Reply

A TSA checkpoint at Miami International Airport. A report says Cuban intelligence has sought information on security at MIA. Al Diaz ALDIAZ

By Douglas Hanks and Nora Gámez Torres

Miami International Airport on Monday downplayed documents reportedly leaked from Cuban intelligence services showing that informants in the county facility were passing on security codes and other confidential information.

The documents reported by the CiberCuba website depict clandestine memos of MIA’s internal passcodes and other details sent by an unnamed operative referred to as “El Gordo.” A Jan. 9, 2017, document, published by CiberCuba, has a message from an “Agent Charles” reportedly passing on airport passcodes to some restricted areas of MIA. The operation described in documents, spanning the years between 2015 and 2017, was dubbed “Programa Recolector.”

“I’m sending here two PIN from MIA security,” one of the memos reproduced on the website says. “Access to secure areas. Miami International Airport.”

Lester Sola, Miami-Dade County’s aviation director, said the information in the allegedly leaked documents was not credible. For instance, he said, the colors of the airport’s security protocols were not as described in the documents.

“We don’t believe the information in the documents is credible,” Sola told the Miami Herald. “We believe nothing in the report poses a credible security threat. But we didn’t ignore the information. Out of an abundance of caution, we have shared it with our federal partners. The FBI is looking into it.”

The documents appear to have blacked-out passcodes, and an alleged copy of a Department of Transportation ID for an aviation mechanic.

Sola’s predecessor at MIA, Emilio Gonzalez, reviewed some of the documents for CiberCuba and said they raised concerns if authentic. “These codes give direct access to any part of the airport,” Gonzalez told the website. “That the Cuban government has people inside the facility with that level of accessibility is really worrying.”

Gonzalez, a retired colonel who once worked for the Defense Intelligence Agency and now serves as Miami’s city manager, declined to comment Monday afternoon. The documents published by CiberCuba were dated between 2015 and 2017, overlapping with Gonzalez’s tenure as MIA director from 2013 to late 2017.

Jose Abreu, the county’s aviation director before Gonzalez, also called the report troubling. “If the report is accurate, it’s worrisome,” said Abreu, an engineer who is now a senior vice president at the Gannett Fleming consulting firm. “Because there are security sensitive areas in the airport. There’s no question about that.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

U.S. Magazine Uses Retired Cuban Spy As “Source” For Story On Internet Freedom In Cuba – They Believe Him! Reply

Dr. Néstor García Iturbe

Editor’s Note:  The Progressive, a monthly magazine/website that touts itself as “A voice for peace, social justice, and the common good” announced last week that internet censorship no longer exists in Cuba. Writer Reese Erlich came to this stunning conclusion because, in part, because that’s what alleged academic Néstor García Iturbe told him. What Erlich failed to tell his readers is this “former Cuban diplomat” is actually a retired Directorate of Intelligence (DI) officer. In fact, Colonel Néstor García Iturbe is one of the regime’s top experts in the targeting of Americans. Well known within U.S. intelligence circle, he is believed to be the longest serving Castro spy to have ever operated in the United States. He culminated his official espionage career as the Director of the Superior Institute of Intelligence (ISI), where Havana’s civilian intelligence officers are trained. He continues to publish pro-regime propaganda on a regular basis.

Foreign Correspondent: Does Cuba Censor the Internet? Think Again.

So far, U.S. government attempts to kickstart a Twitter revolution have failed.

by Reese Erlich, The Progressive

A group of Cubans stare intently at their smart phones here in Old Havana, checking emails and Googling news stories. They, and the millions of other Cubans who got access to Internet upgrades last month, defy the image of Cuba as a totalitarian state where citizens face Internet censorship.

Cubans can now subscribe to monthly plans providing roaming Internet connections for $7 per month. Others access the Internet from wifi hotspots for even less.

The Cuban government blocks access to the U.S. propaganda station TV Marti, as well as to some pro-U.S. blogs, but citizens have easy access to The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and even the ultra-conservative Spanish edition of the Miami Herald. Twitter, Facebook, and cell phone apps such as IMO are also easily accessible.

“There’s virtually no Internet censorship in Cuba,” a U.S. journalist based in Havana told me during a recent trip.

Cuba has vastly improved Internet connectivity over the past fifteen years, but only about 40 percent of Cubans have Internet access, compared to a projected 61 percent for the rest of Latin America. This is largely because all smart phones must be imported and remain expensive for the average Cuban, who earns about $30 per month. I saw older model Samsung phones priced at $60 at one Havana store. A monthly plan providing 1 gigabyte of broadband with roaming costs $10.

Conservatives in the U.S. have argued that the Cuban government deliberately uses the high cost of connectivity to keep Cubans unaware of the benefits of U.S.-style democracy. When I first began reporting on the issue in the early 1990s, connecting to the Internet meant paying $12 an hour at a tourist hotel. In the ensuing years, Cubans could use a computer at a local post office at the rate of $5 an hour for an extremely slow connection.

But Internet access improved after 2012, when Venezuela laid a new optic cable to Cuba. More Cubans became able to use home dial-up connections along with wifi hotspots in parks, cyber cafes, and other public spaces. Students at University of Havana and other colleges now have free, but slow, wifi access.

Cuban government officials told me that the U.S. embargo on business dealings with Cuba serves to keep connectivity costs high for some users. The U.S. government stopped U.S. phone companies from laying new cables from Florida to Cuba, forcing the island to rely on far more expensive satellite connections.

Juan Fernández, a professor at the University of Information Sciences and advisor to the Communications Ministry on Internet issues, told me during a previous trip that U.S. companies control a lot of the computer hardware used for modern Internet connections.

“The U.S. is very close and could sell everything very cheap,” he said. “Yes, we can buy it in Asia, but it’s more expensive.”

Article continues here:  Cuban Censorship

Washington Tightens Restrictions on Cuban Intelligence, Security & Military Entities Profiting From Visiting Tourists 3

List of Restricted Entities and Subentities Associated With Cuba as of November 15, 2018

Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs
November 15, 2018

Below is the U.S. Department of State’s list of entities and subentities under the control of, or acting for or on behalf of, the Cuban military, intelligence, or security services or personnel with which direct financial transactions would disproportionately benefit such services or personnel at the expense of the Cuban people or private enterprise in Cuba. For information regarding the prohibition on direct financial transactions with these entities, please see the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control website and the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security website. All entities and subentities were listed effective November 9, 2017, unless otherwise indicated.

*** Entities or subentities owned or controlled by another entity or subentity on this list are not treated as restricted unless also specified by name on the list. ***

Ministries
MINFAR — Ministerio de las Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias
MININT — Ministerio del Interior

Holding Companies
CIMEX — Corporación CIMEX S.A.
Compañía Turística Habaguanex S.A.
GAESA — Grupo de Administración Empresarial S.A.
Gaviota — Grupo de Turismo Gaviota
UIM — Unión de Industria Militar

Hotels in Havana and Old Havana
Aparthotel Montehabana (Habaguanex)
Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski (Gaviota)
H10 Habana Panorama (Gaviota)
Hostal Valencia (Habaguanex)
Hotel Ambos Mundos (Habaguanex)
Hotel Armadores de Santander (Habaguanex)
Hotel Beltrán de Santa Cruz (Habaguanex)
Hotel Conde de Villanueva (Habaguanex)
Hotel del Tejadillo (Habaguanex)
Hotel el Bosque (Habaguanex)
Hotel el Comendador (Habaguanex)
Hotel el Mesón de la Flota (Habaguanex)
Hotel Florida (Habaguanex)
Hotel Habana 612 (Habaguanex)
Hotel Kohly (Habaguanex)
Hotel Los Frailes (Habaguanex)
Hotel Marqués de Prado Ameno (Habaguanex)
Hotel Palacio del Marqués de San Felipe y Santiago de Bejucal (Habaguanex)
Hotel Palacio O’Farrill (Habaguanex)
Hotel Park View (Habaguanex)
Hotel Raquel (Habaguanex)
Hotel San Miguel (Habaguanex)
Hotel Telégrafo (Habaguanex)
Hotel Terral (Habaguanex)
Iberostar Grand Packard Hotel (Gaviota) Effective November 15, 2018
Memories Miramar Havana (Gaviota)
Memories Miramar Montehabana (Gaviota)
SO/ Havana Paseo del Prado (Gaviota) Effective November 15, 2018

Hotels in Santiago de Cuba
Villa Gaviota Santiago (Gaviota)

Hotels in Varadero
Blau Marina Varadero Resort (Gaviota) (also Fiesta Americana Punta Varadero effective November 15, 2018)
Grand Memories Varadero (Gaviota)
Hotel Las Nubes (Gaviota) Effective November 15, 2018
Hotel Oasis (Gaviota) Effective November 15, 2018
Iberostar Bella Vista (Gaviota) Effective November 15, 2018
Iberostar Laguna Azul (Gaviota)
Iberostar Playa Alameda (Gaviota)
Meliá Marina Varadero (Gaviota)
Meliá Peninsula Varadero (Gaviota)
Memories Varadero (Gaviota)
Naviti Varadero (Gaviota)
Ocean Varadero El Patriarca (Gaviota)
Ocean Vista Azul (Gaviota)
Paradisus Princesa del Mar (Gaviota)
Paradisus Varadero (Gaviota)
Sol Sirenas Coral (Gaviota)

Hotels in Pinar del Rio
Hotel Villa Cabo de San Antonio (Gaviota)
Hotel Villa Maria La Gorda y Centro Internacional de Buceo (Gaviota)

Hotels in Baracoa
Hostal 1511 (Gaviota)
Hostal La Habanera (Gaviota)
Hostal La Rusa (Gaviota)
Hostal Rio Miel (Gaviota)
Hotel El Castillo (Gaviota)
Hotel Porto Santo (Gaviota)
Villa Maguana (Gaviota)

Hotels in Cayos de Villa Clara
Angsana Cayo Santa María (Gaviota) Effective November 15, 2018
Dhawa Cayo Santa María (Gaviota)
Golden Tulip Aguas Claras (Gaviota) Effective November 15, 2018
Hotel Cayo Santa María (Gaviota)
Hotel Playa Cayo Santa María (Gaviota)
Iberostar Ensenachos (Gaviota)
Las Salinas Plana & Spa (Gaviota) Effective November 15, 2018
La Salina Noreste (Gaviota) Effective November 15, 2018
La Salina Suroeste (Gaviota) Effective November 15, 2018
Meliá Buenavista (Gaviota)
Meliá Cayo Santa María (Gaviota)
Meliá Las Dunas (Gaviota)
Memories Azul (Gaviota)
Memories Flamenco (Gaviota)
Memories Paraíso (Gaviota)
Ocean Casa del Mar (Gaviota)
Paradisus Los Cayos (Gaviota) Effective November 15, 2018
Royalton Cayo Santa María (Gaviota)
Sercotel Experience Cayo Santa María (Gaviota) Effective November 15, 2018
Sol Cayo Santa María (Gaviota)
Starfish Cayo Santa María (Gaviota) Effective November 15, 2018
Valentín Perla Blanca (Gaviota) Effective November 15, 2018
Villa Las Brujas (Gaviota)
Warwick Cayo Santa María (Gaviota) (also Labranda Cayo Santa María Hotel effective November 15, 2018)

Hotels in Holguín
Blau Costa Verde Beach & Resort (Gaviota) (also Fiesta Americana Holguín Costa Verde effective November 15, 2018)
Hotel Playa Costa Verde (Gaviota)
Hotel Playa Pesquero (Gaviota)
Memories Holguín (Gaviota)
Paradisus Río de Oro Resort & Spa (Gaviota)
Playa Costa Verde (Gaviota)
Playa Pesquero Premium Service (Gaviota)
Sol Rio de Luna y Mares (Gaviota)
Villa Cayo Naranjo (Gaviota)
Villa Cayo Saetia (Gaviota)
Villa Pinares de Mayari (Gaviota)

Hotels in Jardines del Rey
Grand Muthu Cayo Guillermo (Gaviota) Effective November 15, 2018
Hotel Playa Coco Plus (Gaviota)
Iberostar Playa Pilar (Gaviota)
Meliá Jardines del Rey (Gaviota)
Memories Caribe (Gaviota)
Pestana Cayo Coco (Gaviota)

Hotels in Topes de Collantes
Hostal Los Helechos (Gaviota)
Kurhotel Escambray (Gaviota) Effective November 15, 2018
Los Helechos (Gaviota)
Villa Caburni (Gaviota)

Tourist Agencies
Crucero del Sol
Gaviota Tours

Marinas
Marina Gaviota Cabo de San Antonio (Pinar del Rio)
Marina Gaviota Cayo Coco (Jardines del Rey)
Marina Gaviota Las Brujas (Cayos de Villa Clara)
Marina Gaviota Puerto Vita (Holguín)
Marina Gaviota Varadero (Varadero)

Stores in Old Havana
Casa del Abanico (Habaguanex)
Colección Habana (Habaguanex)
Florería Jardín Wagner (Habaguanex)
Joyería Coral Negro (CIMEX) – Additional locations throughout Cuba
La Casa del Regalo (Habaguanex)
San Ignacio 415 (Habaguanex)
Soldadito de Plomo (Habaguanex)
Tienda El Navegante (Habaguanex)
Tienda Muñecos de Leyenda (Habaguanex)
Tienda Museo El Reloj Cuervo y Sobrinos (Habaguanex)

Entities Directly Serving the Defense and Security Sectors
ACERPROT — Agencia de Certificación y Consultoría de Seguridad y Protección (alias Empresa de Certificación de Sistemas de Seguridad y Protección effective November 15, 2018)
AGROMIN — Grupo Empresarial Agropecuario del Ministerio del Interior
APCI — Agencia de Protección Contra Incendios
CAHOMA — Empresa Militar Industrial Comandante Ernesto Che Guevara
CASEG — Empresa Militar Industrial Transporte Occidente
CID NAV — Centro de Investigación y Desarrollo Naval
CIDAI — Centro de Investigación y Desarrollo de Armamento de Infantería
CIDAO — Centro de Investigación y Desarrollo del Armamento de Artillería e Instrumentos Ópticos y Ópticos Electrónicos
CORCEL — Empresa Militar Industrial Emilio Barcenas Pier
CUBAGRO — Empresa Comercializadora y Exportadora de Productos Agropecuarios y Agroindustriales
DATYS — Empresa Para El Desarrollo De Aplicaciones, Tecnologías Y Sistemas
DCM TRANS — Centro de Investigación y Desarrollo del Transporte
DEGOR — Empresa Militar Industrial Desembarco Del Granma
DSE — Departamento de Seguridad del Estado
EMIAT — Empresa Importadora Exportadora de Abastecimientos Técnicos
Empresa Militar Industrial Astilleros Astimar
Empresa Militar Industrial Astilleros Centro
Empresa Militar Industrial Yuri Gagarin
ETASE — Empresa de Transporte y Aseguramiento
Ferretería TRASVAL
GELCOM — Centro de Investigación y Desarrollo Grito de Baire
Impresos de Seguridad
MECATRONICS — Centro de Investigación y Desarrollo de Electrónica y Mecánica
NAZCA — Empresa Militar Industrial Granma
OIBS — Organización Integración para el Bienestar Social
PLAMEC — Empresa Militar Industrial Ignacio Agramonte
PNR — Policía Nacional Revolucionaria
PROVARI — Empresa de Producciones Varias
SEPSA — Servicios Especializados de Protección
SERTOD — Servicios de Telecomunicaciones a los Órganos de la Defensa Effective November 15, 2018
SIMPRO — Centro de Investigación y Desarrollo de Simuladores
TECAL — Empresa de Tecnologías Alternativas
TECNOPRO — Empresa Militar Industrial “G.B. Francisco Cruz Bourzac”
TECNOTEX — Empresa Cubana Exportadora e Importadora de Servicios, Artículos y Productos Técnicos Especializados
TGF — Tropas de Guardafronteras
UAM — Unión Agropecuaria Militar
ULAEX — Unión Latinoamericana de Explosivos
XETID — Empresa de Tecnologías de la Información Para La Defensa
YABO — Empresa Militar Industrial Coronel Francisco Aguiar Rodríguez

Additional Subentities of CIMEX
ADESA/ASAT — Agencia Servicios Aduanales (Customs Services)
Cachito (Beverage Manufacturer)
Contex (Fashion)
Datacimex
ECUSE — Empresa Cubana de Servicios
Inmobiliaria CIMEX (Real Estate)
Inversiones CIMEX
Jupiña (Beverage Manufacturer)
La Maisón (Fashion)
Najita (Beverage Manufacturer)
Publicitaria Imagen (Advertising)
Residencial Tarara S.A. (Real Estate / Property Rental) Effective November 15, 2018
Ron Caney (Rum Production)
Ron Varadero (Rum Production)
Telecable (Satellite Television)
Tropicola (Beverage Manufacturer)
Zona Especializada de Logística y Comercio (ZELCOM)

Additional Subentities of GAESA
Almacenes Universales (AUSA)
ANTEX — Corporación Antillana Exportadora
Compañía Inmobiliaria Aurea S.A. (GAESA) Effective November 15, 2018
Dirección Integrada Proyecto Mariel (DIP)
Empresa Inmobiliaria Almest (Real Estate)
GRAFOS (Advertising)
RAFIN S.A. (Financial Services)
Sociedad Mercantin Inmobiliaria Caribe (Real Estate)
TECNOIMPORT
Terminal de Contenedores de la Habana (TCH)
Terminal de Contenedores de Mariel, S.A.
UCM — Unión de Construcciones Militares
Zona Especial de Desarrollo Mariel (ZEDM)
Zona Especial de Desarrollo y Actividades Logísticas (ZEDAL)
Additional Subentities of Gaviota
AT Comercial
Manzana de Gomez (Shopping Mall)
PhotoService
Plaza La Estrella Effective November 15, 2018
Plaza Las Dunas Effective November 15, 2018
Plaza Las Morlas Effective November 15, 2018
Plaza Las Salinas Effective November 15, 2018
Plaza Las Terrazas del Atardecer Effective November 15, 2018
Plaza Los Flamencos Effective November 15, 2018
Plaza Pesquero Effective November 15, 2018
Producciones TRIMAGEN S.A. (Tiendas Trimagen)

Additional Subentities of Habaguanex
Sociedad Mercantil Cubana Inmobiliaria Fenix S.A. (Real Estate)

Rubio, Díaz-Balart Want Investigation of Raúl Castro in 1996 Shoot-Down of Exile Planes 1

 

The four Brothers to the Rescue pilots who were shot down by Cuban aircraft in 1996. C.M. Guerrero el Nuevo Herald

By Nora Gámez Torres

ngameztorres@elnuevoherald.com

Two Florida Republicans, Sen. Marco Rubio and Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart, have asked President Donald Trump to consider an investigation into whether Cuba’s former ruler, Raúl Castro, should be indicted for the 1996 shoot-down of two Brothers to the Rescue planes.

The shoot-down by Cuban military planes resulted in the deaths of three U.S. citizens — Carlos Costa, Armando Alejandre and Mario de la Peña — as well as the death of Pablo Morales, a U.S. permanent resident.

“We urge you to consider new, additional actions to hold the Castro regime accountable for its crimes. For that reason, within all applicable rules and regulations, we urge you to direct the Department of Justice to review whether Raúl Castro should be indicted for the illegal and heinous act” of shooting down the two civilian aircraft in international waters, Rubio and Díaz-Balart said in a letter they sent to the president on Monday.

Brothers to the Rescue made volunteer flights in the Straits of Florida to search for Cuban rafters who had fled the island by sea. The organization also made flights inside Cuban territory to drop pamphlets denouncing the government of the late Fidel Castro. At the time, Raúl Castro was the minister of Cuba’s Revolutionary Armed Forces.

Cuban authorities asked the U.S. government to ground the flights, but they continued and on Feb. 24, 1996, two Cuban military planes shot down two of the Brothers to the Rescue planes.

In 2003, a U.S. federal court in Miami indicted three Cuban officials on charges of murder, but Raúl Castro was not among them. None of them were tried. Gerardo Hernández, leader of a Cuban spy ring known as the WASP network, was sentenced to life in prison in connection with the shoot-down but he was freed by the Obama administration as part of a prisoner exchange.

The legislators also asked Trump to direct appropriate agencies to assess whether Interpol “red notices” should be issued for the arrest and extradition to the United States “of all Cuban operatives responsible for the murders.”

Editor’s Note: “Operation Scorpion” was the codename Havana’s primary service used for their mission supporting the murder of Brothers to the Rescue members. Due to their central role in the shoot down, key members of the Directorate of Intelligence (DI) should be included in any attempt to issue Interpol “red notices.”

 

Cuba Spy Josefina Vidal Becomes Cuba’s Ambassador to Canada — 15 Years After Her Expulsion From The US For Espionage 3

Cuban Spy Josefina Vidal (in blue) as Cuba’s new Ambassador to Canada

(Courtesy:  Cuba’s Prensa Latina) The Governor General of Canada, Julie Payette, today received Josefina Vidal in solemn audience, who introduced her to the Letters accrediting her as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Cuba in this country.

During the ceremony, which took place at Rideau Hall, the official residence of the governor, Vidal had an exchange with Payette, who expressed the interest of the Government of the Greater one of the Antilles to broaden and strengthen the traditional mutually beneficial relations between the two nations and peoples, a note from the Cuban embassy here.

Before being appointed to represent the government in Havana in Ottawa, Vidal was director general of the United States in the Chancellery of the Caribbean island.

On December 17, 2014 the Cuban president Raúl Castro and his American counterpart, Barack Obama, announced the decision to restore diplomatic relations between the two countries and to move toward the normalization of bilateral ties, a process in which Josefina played a role of first order.

From 1999 to 2003 was first secretary of the Cuban Interests Section in Washington and subsequently took over as General Manager of North America of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Caribbean island, work which she did until being appointed ambassador to Canada.

Payette occupies the position since October 2017 and her functions eminently protocolary meetings as representative of the Queen Elizabeth is also preside over the inauguration of the Prime Minister, the chief judges and members of the Cabinet.

During the first 85 years of the existence of Canada only British personalities occupied that position, all with aristocratic titles, and became the first Canadian to reach the post was Vincent Massey in 1952, while the first female to head that office was Jeanne Sauvé, in 1984.

Editor’s Note:  Josefina Vidal was among 16 Cuban spies handpicked by the FBI and Defense Intelligence Agency for expulsion in 2003. The Cuban spy-diplomats were thrown out in retaliation for Havana’s targeting of US operations against Iraq. Vidal is assigned to Department M-I (US Targets) of the Directorate of Intelligence. Theoretically, Havana’s spies must retire from their spy service before they came become an ambassador.

Cuba Replaces Spy-Diplomat Who Directed US Relations Within Cuba’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs 2

DI Officer Josefina Vidal

Cuba Replaces Official Who Led Talks to Resume Ties with U.S.

HAVANA, Feb. 12 (Xinhua) — The Cuban government has replaced Josefina Vidal, head of U.S. relations at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who chaired the island’s delegation during the talks to restore formal ties with the U.S.

A government statement published on Monday announced that Vidal‘s position will be taken by the “experienced diplomat” Carlos Fernandez de Cossio.

“Fernandez de Cossio is one of the most complete Cuban diplomats,” said Johana Tablada, the deputy head of U.S. relations, on Twitter.

A former ambassador to Canada and South Africa, Fernandez de Cossio already held this position at the U.S. office during the 1990s, at a time of great tension between Washington and Havana.

According to the statement, Vidal handed over her duties to Fernandez de Cossio on Feb. 9 after a formal ceremony.

“In her almost 12 years at the Directorate-General of the U.S. Office, Josefina Vidal carried out her complex job with efficiency, talent and sensibility,” read the statement.

Josefina Vidal was considered the Cuban face of the long process of negotiations that concluded in the restoration of U.S.-Cuba diplomatic relations in August 2015.

After 54 years of political enmity, respective embassies in Havana and Washington were re-opened, and former president Barack Obama visited the Caribbean nation in March 2016.

However, relations have soured once again since President Donald Trump promised to roll back formal ties “in search of a better deal with Havana.”

Thus, Fernandez de Cossio returns to his previous office in similar conditions to those he had to deal with two decades ago.

The statement did not clarify what functions Vidal will be taking on.

Editor’s Note: Career Directorate of Intelligence (DI) officer Josefina Vidal, expelled from the US in 2003, is one of Havana’s premier experts in US affairs. Numerous accounts of her DI service can be found in the Cuba Confidential archives.

DI officer Johanna Tablada concluded her tour as Cuba’s ambassador to Portugal in late 2017. She is suspected of being assigned to Department M-I, the elite element focused on targeting the US intelligence community, universities, and Congress.

Senior Spy Specializing in Targeting Americans Assigned as Cuban Ambassador to Canada; Deputy Spy-Master Assigned as Spain’s Ambassador 2

Editor’s Note: Josefina Vidal, suspected of being a “US Targets” officer in the Director of Intelligence (DI), was expelled from the US in 2003 along with 15 other Cuban spy-diplomats. Her Deputy in the Foreign Ministry was Gustavo Machin, also a suspected US Targets officer. Machin was thrown out of the US in retaliation for the Ana Montes spy case. He later served as Cuban Ambassador to Pakistan where he is believed to have overseen Havana’s targeting of US counterterrorism operations in the region. He has now been selected to serve in Madrid as Cuba’s Ambassador. Historically, Mexico, Canada and Spain host the largest Cuban spy centers in the world (outside their three bases in the United States).  “Officially,” DI officers resign from the spy service when they become ambassadors. However, we can expect these two “retired” US Targets officers to have significant and adverse influence over the activities in their host nations. 

 

 

French Director to Make Pro-Castro Film Showcasing Murderous Spies as Heroes 1

Director Olivier Assayas (Lionel Cironneau /AP/REX/Shutterstock)

‘Personal Shopper’ Director Olivier Assayas Boards Cuban Spy Thriller ‘Wasp Network’

Dave McNary, Film Reporter – Variety

Olivier Assayas, who directed Kristen Stewart’s “Personal Shopper” and “Clouds of Sils Maria,” has come on board to helm the Cuban spy thriller “Wasp Network” from his own script.

Wasp Network” is based on Fernando Morais’ book “The Last Soldiers of the Cold War.” RT Features’ Rodrigo Teixeira will produce alongside CG Cinema’s Charles Gillibert. RT’s Lourenço Sant’Anna and Sophie Mas will executive produce.

 Wasp Network” centers on Cuban spies in American territory during the 1990s when anti-Castro groups based in Florida carried out military attacks on Cuba, and the Cuban government struck back with the Wasp Network to infiltrate those organizations.

Assayas most recently wrote and directed “Personal Shopper,” which world premiered at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, where Assayas was awarded best director. IFC Films released the film in the U.S. on March 10.

Assays also wrote and directed “Clouds of Sils Maria,” starring Stewart and Juliette Binoche. The film had its world premiere at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. Stewart earned France’s César Award for best supporting actress for her role in the movie — making her the first American actress to earn the honor.

Assayas was also nominated for the Palme d’Or for “Demonlover” in 2002 and for “Les Destinées” in 2000. He received an Emmy nomination in 2011 for outstanding directing for a miniseries, movie, or dramatic special for “Carlos” starring Edgar Ramírez, still regarded by many as his finest work and the nearest in its subject – terrorist Carlos the Jackal – to “Wasp Network.”

RT Features debuted two films at the Sundance Film Festival in January — Luca Guadagnino’s “Call Me by Your Name,” starring Armie Hammer, which was acquired by Sony Pictures Classics; and Geremy Jasper’s “Patti Cake$,” which was nabbed by Fox Searchlight. The company’s “The Witch” won an Independent Spirit Award for best first feature for Robert Egger. RT also produced James Schamus’ “Indignation,” Ira Sachs’ “Little Men” and Noah Baumbach’s “Frances Ha.”

Gillibert is a frequent collaborator to Assayas, having produced “Personal Shopper,” “Clouds of Sils Maria,” and “Summer Hours.” CG Cinema is in post-production on Deniz Gamze Ergüven’s “Kings,” starring Halle Berry and Daniel Craig.

Assayas is represented by WME and Intertalent while RT Features is represented by CAA.

Editors Note: Based on information currently available about this film, it appears certain that any overlap with factual events with be purely accidental.