Today in History: The Curious Defection of Orlando Brito Pestana 1

March 27, 2002: Orlando Brito Pestana asked Panamanian security to help him, his wife and two daughters defect to the US. At the time of his defection, Brito had been Havana’s Commercial Attaché for a year. Former Cuban Intelligence Officer Enrique Garcia Diaz claimed Brito was a Directorate of Intelligence (DI) officer who earlier served in the (then) DGI element known as K-1 (Political/Economic Intelligence Division). While Brito’s motive remains unclear, a Panamanian official suggested he defected because of a scandal involving Sunset Group International. Since the mid-1990s, this firm subsidized Cuba’s sugar harvest and operated a car dealership in Havana. However, allegations arose regarding the bribery of Panamanian officials, as well as reports that Havana was investigating corruption among Sunset’s Cuban associates. As the Commercial Attaché, Brito would certainly have come under scrutiny. Meanwhile, in Washington, an FBI official familiar with Cuban intelligence operations took the unprecedented move of a public warning that Brito could be a provocation. Other senior officials concurred, suggesting that Brito’s “defection” was a Cuban ploy to develop information on how the US detected Ana Montes – arrested just six months earlier.

McCarthyism and Castroism: A Case Study 1

By Miguel Fernandez

Soon after Professor Carlos Alvarez (Florida International University- FIU) and his wife, Elsa Prieto, were arrested on espionage charges, the Castroite parliamentary speaker Ricardo Alarcon branded this FBI operation as a move to create a sort of “McCarthyist atmosphere” in order to have an influence on the Cuban Five’s case.  The last Antonio Maceo Brigade militant, Andres Gomez, pealed the bell in Areito Digital.  He stated that the alleged guilt of Alvarez and Prieto was the base for “a dangerous McCarthyist campaign” against those who advocate the normalization of Cuba-U.S. relations.  Alvarez’s lawyer, Steven Chaykin, argued that the reputation of his client and his wife was being destroyed by “the McCarthy-like hysteria” stirred up by the prosecutor.  “This kind of hysteria also grows in the Hispanic media from Miami,” remarked the Castroite agitprop cadre Max Lesnik. Nevertheless, Alvarez and Prieto ended up pleading guilty. Since the first Alvarez’s debriefing by the FBI on June 23 and 24, 2005, the case did not anything to do with the late Senator Joseph McCarthy, but with the still alive Fidel Castro.

Every time Castroite espionage becomes an issue in the U.S. academic world, McCarthyism is the quick response.  The doctoral candidate Arturo Lopez-Levy gave a sort of updated operational definition:  McCarthyism is “the use of anonymous reports, which mix defamation with half-truths, for condemning and persecuting those who dissent from the undemocratic right.” Thus, the report with full names and truths, without any intention beyond the clarification of the issue, seems to be no McCarthyist at all.

See the entire article here:  McCarthyism and Castroism