The CIA had their hopes pinned on agent “Pablo.” He had an excellent education and knew how to relate to youth and students, the focus of Washington’s plans in Cuba. State Security here, however, had full confidence in the man they called “Daniel.”
In April of 2011, the real identity of Daniel and Pablo as one and the same person was announced; writer and university professor, Raúl Capote.
Among the missions the CIA gave their agent in Havana was the recruitment of intellectuals and youth to train as leaders to challenge the Revolution.
Another of their obsessions was the creation of a platform for an internet connection on the island, under U.S. control.
The author of the book, La guerra que se nos hace (The war they wage against us), which was presented during the recent International Book Fair in Havana, recalled when members of U.S. intelligence services showed him how to use a satellite telephone to connect directly to the internet, without being detected by Cuban authorities.
The U.S. State Department’s creation of a new Internet Task Force is the latest version of those old subversive plans, with antecedents that date back to the very beginning of the Revolution.
The first meeting of the Task Force took place February 7, with government officials and non-government authorities on hand, as expected.
While all those aspiring to carry out these plans are not known publicly, sources close to the events report that there were participants from the State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Aid to Development (USAID), and the Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB), that manages two “relics” of an era of even greater aggression against Cuba: Radio and TV Martí.
The proposal is the same one in which agent “Pablo” was engaged, the same exposed and dismantled by “Daniel” and Cuban state security.
You learned first hand of U.S. subversive plans in Cuba based on the use of new technologies. Do you think this new Task Force will be successful?
No, they don’t have a chance. We have experience in confronting this type of aggression; we’re not talking about anything new. I’ll cite a few examples:
In February of 2006, a list was published of 17 Cuban-American institutions that were funded by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). With these funds, numerous cyberspace publications were financed, meant to promote internal subversion on the island.
The International Republican Institute (IRI) gave their activists in Cuba cell phones and information technology equipment, an effort, they say, to continue breaking barriers to communication, to promote the free flow of information and access to the internet for Cubans.
In 2009, especially after the Information Technology Fair here, the CIA showed a great deal of concern about the development Cuba could achieve in the area of informatics security, and what this development could mean as a brake on their internal subversion plans.
To prevent this, they ordered the rapid distribution of software and hardware to be used on their internal networks. With financing provided by the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, the International Republican Institute began a project to gather software, references, news, and digital resources. Through this initiative called “CiberLibre,” the IRI prepared prototypes of CDs, with a capacity of approximately one gigabyte, containing a variety of software programs, e-mails, websites, etc. The programs included software to access the internet in a “safe” manner without being detected by the Cuban government’s servers.
The plan included putting into operation BGAN equipment (satellite cell phones with the ability to establish an internet connection), to create wireless networks that would link their agents via cell phones and laptops in different places in Havana, so that, at a later time in the implementation of their plans, these networks could be utilized to manipulate users and mobilize them in protest actions against the government.
Of particular interest to the CIA was studying illegal antennas for satellite TV that existed in the country in those days, and the possibility of switching them over to an internet connection.
We could also refer to the projects well known among Cubans, failed projects like ZunZuneo, Piramideo, and Commotion, denounced by Cuba at the time.
Is Cuba ready to face these attacks?
The war they are waging on us is a war to restore capitalism in Cuba; we must be clear about this. The new plans were developed in the context of this war. Moreover, there exists a broad, active coalition of government, military, and business interests that includes the computer and information industry, and communications media, who are consistent defenders of a world dominated by the United States. They are convinced that the way to accomplish this is based on the electronic control of information and the communications media, which confer cultural and political power in general. Cuba is emerging as a formidable enemy of this imperial vision of the world. Cubans are resisting this formidable force.
Cuba advocates the safe, democratic, responsible use of the internet, which has been the intention of the Cuban government, especially Fidel, in the development of new technologies and full access to the internet. And we have faced obstacles created by the U.S. government since the beginning. The absolute prohibition of their enterprises doing business with Cuba in the area of information-communications technology, for years, has reached incredible heights, the persecution of any attempt by our country to purchase hardware or software. The odyssey we were obliged to undertake to acquire the first micro-computers is an example of this policy. The impossibility of access to fiber optic cables that surround the island is an example of the double standards and manipulations of a government that, after all this, presumes to accuse the Cuban government of not allowing its citizens to use the internet.
I have the impression that a clear perception of the danger this war entails does not always exist. It is a new, complex field, for which we must prepare ourselves. We cannot make naïve mistakes. Our enemies are very clear about their objectives.
What is the best strategy to combat this new offensive by the Trump administration?
Cuba has one great strength: the preparation of our human resources. The Revolution has trained thousands of engineers and technicians, and has a highly trained, educated population, capable of handling new technologies.
The level of internet access in Cuba has increased rapidly; the country has developed in a sovereign manner, thanks above all to the ability and determination of this trained workforce and the government’s political will.
This enemy plan will be defeated with more internet. Fidel has already said so, “Internet appears to have been made for revolutionaries.” We have the ability to generate content to defend the Revolution.
More access to the internet means more Cubans telling how they really live in Cuba, and this is what the enemy most fears. That is why they do not allow their companies to do business in Cuba, despite their media promises. They want us poor, hungry, and disarmed. Can you imagine what would happen if the poor, the exploited of the world knew the truth about Cuba – capitalism wouldn’t last a day.
What can all Cubans do, from their own positions, to confront this threat?
Let everyone do their part of the duty, and nothing can defeat us, Martí said. Our duty is to prepare ourselves, close ranks, arm ourselves with culture and confront every plan with a counter-plan; organize ourselves, be pro-active, pounce on the lies and distortions with the power of our truth; talk openly, make intelligent use of the increasingly accelerated, sovereign digitalization of our society. Fight with audacity, intelligence, and realism; never lie, armed with the profound conviction that there is no force on earth capable of crushing the power of the truth and ideas.
People connect to the internet at a hotspot in a public park in Havana.