Cuba Lays Out Rules Governing Surveillance, Informants 1

FILE – In this Nov. 14, 2019 file photo, Cuba’s President Miguel Diaz-Canel, center, visits with residents after arriving in Caimanera, Cuba. A new decree approved by Diaz-Canel Oct. 8 and made public Monday, Nov. 18, 2019, says prosecutors can approve eavesdropping and surveillance of any form of communication, without consulting a judge as required in many other Latin American countries. ISMAEL FRANCISCO, FILE AP PHOTO

By ANDREA RODRIGUEZ, Associated Press

Cuba has publicly laid out the rules governing the extensive, longstanding surveillance and undercover investigation of the island’s 11 million people.

A new decree approved by President Miguel Díaz-Canel on Oct. 8 and made public this week says prosecutors can approve eavesdropping and surveillance of any form of communication, without consulting a judge as required in many other Latin American countries. The law also creates official legal roles for informants, undercover investigators and sting operations.

The decree is intended to “raise the effectiveness of the prevention of and fight against crime,” according to the declaration in Cuba’s register of new laws and regulations.

The country’s powerful intelligence and security agencies have for decades maintained widespread surveillance of Cuban society through eavesdropping of all types and networks of informants and undercover agents, but their role has never been so publicly codified.

The decree describes a variety of roles: agents of the Interior Ministry authorized to carry out undercover investigations, cooperating witnesses who provide information in exchange for lenient treatment and sting operations in which illegal goods are allowed to move under police surveillance.

The law allows interception of telephone calls, direct recording of voices, shadowing and video recording of suspects and covert access to computer systems.

Unlike Cuba, many countries including Mexico, Argentina, Guatemala, Chile and Bolivia require a judge to approve surveillance operations.

Expelled Spy Josefina Vidal Sits in on Republican’s Meeting With Cuban Leaders Reply

Senior Directorate of Intelligence (DI) officer Josefina Vidal

Senior Directorate of Intelligence (DI) officer Josefina Vidal

US Senators Meet Cuban Vice President, Foreign Minister

By Zee News

Havana: A delegation of United States’ Republican senators met with Cuban First Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel and Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez and discussed bilateral relations and other issues.

Senators Jeff Flake, Susan Collins and Pat Roberts met with Diaz-Canel at the Palace of the Revolution on Saturday and discussed the “progress made in the modernisation of Cuba`s economic and social model”, current bilateral relations and the “need to end the embargo”, state-run National Information Agency (AIN) reported.

Cuban foreign ministry`s Director General for the US, Josefina Vidal, who heads the Cuban team in negotiations with Washington, attended both meetings.

The delegation – which arrived in Cuba on Friday – is the first ever made up entirely of the Republicans since Washington and Havana announced last December 17 the decision to renew diplomatic relations.

The new policy of US President Barack Obama toward Cuba has met with strong opposition from some sections of the Republican Party, in whose ranks, however, there are lawmakers like Jeff Flake that support bilateral understanding.

Senator Flake of Arizona is the chief promoter of the Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act, introduced in the US Congress last January as a move toward ending legal restrictions on US citizens traveling to the island nation.

Flake, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, first traveled to Cuba last November along with Democrat Tom Udall to visit imprisoned US contractor Alan Gross, who was freed following the announcement of the thaw in US-Cuban relations.

Editor’s Note:  Directorate of Intelligence (DI) officer Josefina Vidal was thrown out of the United States for espionage in 2003. She is likely to become the first Cuban Ambassador to the US under the Castro regime.

Cuban Dissident Says Security Forces are Studying Vladimir Putin’s Rule 2

By Juan O. Tamayo,

Cuban security officers are studying post-communist changes in Russia — and being nicer to dissidents — in preparation for a possible transition away from the island’s totalitarian system, leading opposition activist Guillermo Fariñas said Tuesday.

Some of the officers fear a sudden collapse of the communist system and “don’t want to suffer the same fate as the followers of (Moamar) Kaddafi” in Libya, Fariñas said during a lengthy visit Tuesday to El Nuevo Herald and The Miami Herald.

They favor a slow transition that would allow them to seize ownership of state enterprises, he added, like the massive grab for public assets that the Sandinistas staged in Nicaragua as they left power in 1990 and became known as the “Piñata.”

Fariñas said he has friendly contacts with a half-dozen lieutenant colonels or colonels because they studied together in military high schools. He also served one year in Angola with a commando unit and spent three years at a military academy in the Soviet Union.

Some of the military officers told him they have been attending weekly lectures on the transitions in Russia and Belarus that they refer to as “Putinismo,” he said, in an apparent reference to Vladimir Putin’s authoritarian yet capitalist rule.

They also told him that some of ruler Raúl Castro’s advisers have suggested that 15 to 25 dissidents should be allowed into the national parliament, Fariñas added. Castro replied that he agreed, but that brother Fidel would never allow it.

Some of the Interior Ministry officers in charge of monitoring and repressing dissidents also are “taking care not to get blood on the hands,” the activist said, to avoid punishments later in case Cuba shifts significantly toward democracy at some point.

State Security officials used to boast in the 1990s that the island’s communist system would never change. But now they tell him that they are only following orders, said Fariñas, who has staged more than 20 hunger strikes during his 21years as a dissident.

One State Security agent now politely asks Fariñas’ mother to put together the dissident’s daily medicines before taking him for questioning from his home in the central city of Santa Clara, the dissident said.

And one of the harshest State Security officers in the city, a 28-year-old who turned out to be the son of a bus driver at Farinas’ military school, now tells the dissident when other government opponents confront him, the activist said.

Fariñas said the officer tells him that he is sometimes forced to get tough when dissidents spit at him, swear at him and his mother or jeer him as “nalgón” – big butt.

Those and other Fariñas comments could not be independently confirmed, but other dissidents in Cuba, including human rights activist Elizardo Sanchez Santa Cruz, have previously said that he does have access to old friends in the security forces.

Fariñas said that he in fact ran into Miguel Diaz Canel — a fellow Santa Clara native and classmate in the military high school — six weeks before his promotion to First Vice President of the Council of State, No. 2 behind Raúl Castro.

Fariñas said he was walking by the home of Diaz Canel’s parents on Jan. 4 when he spotted the old friend parking his car, one of the Chinese-made Geely vehicles used by high government officials.

Diaz Canel shook his hand warmly and asked about his health as they spoke for about 15 minutes, the dissident said, largely about the 135-day hunger strike in 2010 that put him in the hospital several times.

The vice president noted in the chat that Fariñas refused to speak to several government envoys during the strike, the dissident said, and asked if Farinas would talk to him in case of another hunger strike.

Fariñas said he told Diaz Canel that they could indeed speak, and the government official replied that “he would keep that in mind.” But he added that he would have to report the conversation to his superiors in Havana.

Fariñas also said he would oppose an unconditional lifting of the U.S. embargo and added that while he respects the Catholic Church and its bishops, he has been “disappointed” with Cardinal Jaime Ortega.

If the Cuban government ever agrees to talks with the opposition, he added, Ortega should not be part of the negotiations.

Fariñas said he expects to go to Puerto Rico and later to Belgium, to pick up the $60,000 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Conscience awarded to him by the European Parliament in 2010, before he returns to Havana around mid-July.