Tuesday, November 30, 2010

And now, a not-so-secret Cuba report

The Congressional Research Service does periodic reports on Cuba issues facing U.S. lawmakers. Mark Sullivan, a specialist in Latin American affairs, wrote the latest report, dated Nov. 12.
Sullivan did a great job with the 83-page report. It's packed with all kinds of useful background information, as usual.
But with all the secret U.S. embassy cables floating around these days, the congressional report seems tame.

Reaction to spying accusation: Cuba and Venezuela only defending themselves

Here is one reaction to U.S. embassy cables claiming Cuban agents direct spying operations in Venezuela:
None of the cables taken from "the secret coffers of American diplomacy" mention that "Cuba and Venezuela remain under a current threat from terrorists that the United States gives refuge to and protects..."
That is the view of M. H. Lagarde, above, writing in Cambios de Cuba.
Photo credit: Cuba la Gran Nacion blog

U.S. trying to sway negative perceptions in Venezuela

This confidential cable gives information on U.S. efforts to reverse growing anti-American sentiments in Venezuela. It gives insight into some of the strategies may be used in Cuba or could be used in the future.

ID: 147378
Date: 2008-03-26 20:19:00
Origin: 08CARACAS420
Source: Embassy Caracas
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Dunno:
Destination: P 262019Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY CARACAS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0853
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
INFO RUEHWH/WESTERN HEMISPHERIC AFFAIRS DIPL POSTS PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUMIAAA/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 CARACAS 000420

SIPDIS

USSOUTHCOM ALSO FOR POLAD
DEPT PASS TO AID/OTI RPORTER

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/18/2018
TAGS: PGOV, PREL, VE
SUBJECT: EMBASSY STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS PLAN --
COUNTERING CHAVEZ' ANTI-AMERICANISM


Classified By: CLASSIFIED CONFIDENTIAL BY ACTING DCM
ROBERT RICHARD DOWNES FOR REASON 1.4 (d).

1. (U) This is an action request - see paragraph 12.

2. (C) Summary: Embassy Caracas requests DOD support in the
execution of its strategic communications plan. The goal for
this program is to influence the information environment
within Venezuela. The strategy's goal is to counter the
active and deliberate campaign by the Bolivarian Republic of
Venezuela (BRV) to instill in the population a negative
perception of the US. and distort more than 100 years of
close and mutually beneficial relations between our two
countries. Regrettably, the BRV has had some success. From a
pre-Chavez level of over 65% approval, today the positive
image of the US has fallen to a historic low of 31% in
Venezuela. DOD support would greatly enhance existing
Embassy Public Diplomacy and pro-democracy activities. End
Summary.

3. (C) Venezuela at the Crossroads: Venezuela once ranked
with Colombia and the Central American countries as being
most favorably disposed to the United States. However,
attitudes towards America have deteriorated after several
years of daily, well-funded BRV attacks against the USG.

4. (C) Recent Developments: Embassy Caracas has developed a
comprehensive strategic communications plan that incorporates
various agencies within the mission. The Narcotic Affairs
Section (NAS) has implemented a successful baseball clinic
bringing former Venezuelan players and managers from the US
major leagues to work with the youth in various Venezuelan
cities as part of a narcotics demand reduction program. In
addition, the Public Affairs Office targets the
hard-to-penetrate youth and low-income sectors, programming
Embassy leadership visits to all regions of Venezuela to
interact with Venezuelan society, business, and civilian
organizations. All of these programs have had an impact on
Venezuelan perceptions towards the US within targeted
sectors. Lack of resources limits our ability to reach a much
larger population base.

5. (C) Objectives: The strategic communications plan focuses
on three key objectives; strengthening Venezuelan-US
friendship, informing Venezuelans of enduring ties with
America, and countering anti-US influence and activity. The
US government needs to remind the Venezuelan people of its
historic friendship ("We have been with you since Simon
Bolivar") through continuous engagement, either with goodwill
activities or offers of US assistance for emergency
situations. We should also develop a message to enhance
Venezuelan understanding of its natural partnership with the
US through our long history of mutual support, strong
commercial and agricultural ties, and the cultural and people
to people links--large numbers of Venezuelan immigrants live
in US ("We have been allies since the 1800s"). Finally, this
strategic communications program must demonstrate commitment
and support to the shared values and aspirations of the
Venezuelan and American people regardless of Chavez'
hostility or harsh rhetoric in order to counter anti-US
influence and activity ("Both our nations stand for freedom,
democracy, and prosperity.").

6. (U) Themes: This program will center principally on three
themes:

The United States and Venezuela share common interests;
--- Strong commercial and human ties.
--- Both of our peoples respect and value civil and
individual rights.

Regional problems require the cooperation of all neighbors;
--- Drug trafficking affects all countries and can
only be effectively addressed through regional cooperation.
--- Organized crime, international gangs, and
trafficking in persons affect every society and are strongly
correlated to peace and stability.

Long historical and cultural ties;
--- Wars for independence.
--- Support to Venezuela against European
intervention in the late 1800s.
--- Baseball
--- Large number of Venezuelan-American citizens.

7. (C) Standards: Three continuous threads will be woven
throughout this proposed program. First, the absolute
veracity of the information will be assured prior to any
program being publicized or aired. This standard will be in
direct contrast to the misinformation, broken promises, and
exaggerations of the Chavez administration. The second is a
commitment to sending only positive messages about people.
Negative messages tend to become associated with the sender.
The third standard is to refrain from any attacks against the
BRV or Chavez that would provide a pretext for Chavez to
rally Venezuelans against "the empire."

8. (C) Concept of Operations: The Embassy would like to
begin operations May 2008 and continue through April 2009. If
the program is determined to be successful through attitude
polling metrics, then the Embassy will seek funding for a
second year. The first phase would consist of information
gathering - surveying the environment to determine attitudes
and opinions about the US, drugs, and corruption, and other
areas in Venezuela that affect people in their everyday
lives.

9. (C) Based on these findings, in the second phase we would
implement a campaign using newspaper ads, billboards, radio
and TV spots. Embassy Caracas would focus their resources on
key population areas of Venezuela and states outside the
Caracas metropolitan area. Follow-on phases would include
rock concerts, sporting events, and musical festivals. The
final phase would converge on Caracas and concentrate on
sending the message of our continued support to the
Venezuelan people.

10. (C) The Embassy will evaluate the effectiveness of the
program through feedback surveys. In order to gauge the
program's long term effects a survey team will return to the
target area between 90 and 120 days after the execution of
the program. That will give time to the target audience to
"digest" our message and show indications that they are
either accepting or rejecting our message.


11. (C) Operational Timeline for the Strategic Communications
Plan

10-25 May - 1st Phase (Site Survey)

1 June-30 August-2nd Phase (centered on outlying states)

1 September-25 December 2nd Phase (Sporting events and
musical tours)

1 Jan 2009-30 April 2009-3rd Phase (Caracas focused)

12. (C) Action Request - Embassy requests support from
Department of Defense in the execution of its Strategic
Communications Plan. The embassy would like resources
available by Mid-May 2008.

13. (SBU) US Embassy-Caracas points of contact:
PAS:Benjamin Ziff, email: ziffbg@state.sgov.gov, phone
number: 011-58-212-907-8330.
MILGP:COL Gettings, email: gettingdj@tcsc.southcom.smil.mil,
phone number: 011-58-212-907-8695.
POL:Robert Downes, email downesrr@state.gov. phone number
011-58-212-907-8329.

DUDDY
Source: El Pais

Secret cable: Cuban spies direct intel operations in Venezuela

This secret U.S. embassy cable says Cuban intelligence agents direct spying operations against American officials and other targets based in Venezuela.

ID: 246071
Date: 2010-01-28 18:32:00
Origin: 10CARACAS107
Source: Embassy Caracas
Classification: SECRET//NOFORN
Dunno:
Destination: VZCZCXYZ0001
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHCV #0107/01 0281832
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
R 281832Z JAN 10
FM AMEMBASSY CARACAS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0378
INFO RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS

S E C R E T CARACAS 000107

SIPDIS
NOFORN
DS/ICI/CI, DS/IP/WHA

E.O. 12958: DECL: 2020/01/28
TAGS: ASEC
SUBJECT: January 2010 Caracas CIWG

CLASSIFIED BY: Andres Barcenas, ARSO, Dept. of State, RSO Caracas;
REASON: 1.4(G)

(SBU) On January 5, 2010 Caracas held its bi-annual
Counterintelligence Working Group (CIWG) meeting to review current
threat levels and countermeasures, to discuss recent CI activity
and establish post policy on use of FOBs and Opennet Blackberries.
In attendance for the meeting were representatives from MSG, POL,
MGT, RSO, DHS, LEGAT, DEA, CONS, ESO, ECON, DAO/Milgroup, ORA and
IMO. The DCM chaired the meeting.

(S/NF) RSO stated the current threat levels for post and stressed
that Caracas is critical and high in 4 of the 6 threat categories.
RSO and other sections confirmed that Venezuelan Intelligence
Services (Directorate of Military Intelligence-DIM and the
Bolivarian Intelligence Service-SEBIN formerly DISIP) are
conducting HUMINT and TECH operations against Embassy staff, as
well as political opposition leaders and are controlled by the
Cuban Intelligence Service operating in Venezuela. While the
collection priority appears to be for political opposition leaders,
RSO reminded everyone that the VIS have the capability, means and
desire to monitor and target Embassy staff.

(SBU) During a review of the current threat levels RSO and SEO
stressed the requirement that locally engaged staff without
security clearances must be escorted at all times in the CAA. This
includes the front entrance of the 5th floor area near the
elevators. LE Staff must not be left unattended in that area.

(SBU) RSO reminded Section heads when having staff meetings with
local employees (non-cleared Americans) inside CAA locations the
Section Head MUST compartmentalize all information and only discuss
unclassified information in their presence. In addition SEO
explained the standards for introducing electronic or new items
into CAA locations and reiterated that no computers or other
electronic items are allowed in CAA unless they have been sent
securely to Post through the classified pouch system and controlled
at all times. Personal items must be screened and tagged by the
SEO before entering the CAA areas. This standard applies to all
agencies and staff, PSC or TDY. SEO is working with MGT to send
out a management notice to all staff reminding them of proper
procurement procedures for CAA locations.

(SBU) RSO reiterated to all Section heads the Department policy and
guidelines for Foreign Contact Reporting and encouraged all Section
Heads to review the contact reporting policy with all Cleared
Americans in their sections. In addition RSO reminded staff that
contact reporting is required for all personal social engagements
with locally engaged staff from the Embassy. RSO will resubmit the
Mission Security Notice on Foreign Contact Reporting next week as a
reminder to all staff.

(SBU) As part of Post Debriefing Program, RSO expects DS TDY
support from Washington in March/April to assist with the Annual
Security Briefings for all Embassy staff. RSO will hold another
debriefing review this month for all cleared-American staff
arriving at post over the last 90 to 120 days.

(S) RSO stressed the need to establish a clear post policy on the
issuance of FOBs and Opennet Blackberries. IMO stated that
currently only cleared American staff have been issued FOBs and
Blackberries, but a few sections have stated the need for a FSN to
carry Blackberries. It was agreed that the CIWG will review all
requests for FOBS and Blackberries and will determine if the need
and stated justification should be approved or denied. The CIWG
discussed the pros and cons of FOB use within Venezuela and on home
computers. The CIWG affirmed that FOBs should remain issued only
to cleared American staff (Further review of the Department
guidelines and requirements states that based on Caracas' threat
level cleared American staff must only use the FOBS on computers
that meet all the Department required security guidelines.) The
CIWG determined that individuals assigned FOBs should evaluate
their need and use discretion of the FOB only when the work cannot
be completed at the Embassy (perhaps only Unclass and not SBU).
Cleared Americans issued FOBs should receive an additional briefing
from the ISSO and the RSO to discourage frivolous use of the FOB,
with a review of what constitutes SBU, especially for non-State
Agencies.

(SBU) Point of contact for this cable is ARSO Andres Barcenas and
RSO Wendy Bashnan, telephone number 58-212-907-8403. Regards.
CAULFIELD

Source: El Pais

Cuban intelligence agents have direct access to Hugo Chavez

This secret U.S. embassy cable says Cuban intelligence agents "have direct access" to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and "frequently provide him with intelligence reporting unvetted by Venezuelan officers."
According to the document:
Cuban intelligence officers train Venezuelans both in Cuba and in Venezuela, providing both political indoctrination and operational instruction. They also may work in other Venezuelan government ministries, unconfirmed sensitive reporting suggests.

ID: 51158
Date: 2006-01-30 19:12:00
Origin: 06CARACAS219
Source: Embassy Caracas
Classification: SECRET
Dunno: 06HAVANA118 06HAVANA697
Destination: VZCZCXRO6607
PP RUEHAO
DE RUEHCV #0219/01 0301912
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
P 301912Z JAN 06
FM AMEMBASSY CARACAS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2920
INFO RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA PRIORITY 5901
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PRIORITY 5109
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ PRIORITY 1580
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA PRIORITY 9782
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO PRIORITY 1652
RUEHBS/AMEMBASSY BRUSSELS PRIORITY 0351
RUEHLI/AMEMBASSY LISBON PRIORITY 1276
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 0396
RUEHMD/AMEMBASSY MADRID PRIORITY 3007
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 0300
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 0532
RUEHTC/AMEMBASSY THE HAGUE PRIORITY 0769
RUEHME/AMEMBASSY MEXICO PRIORITY 3525
RUEHOT/AMEMBASSY OTTAWA PRIORITY 0525
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES PRIORITY 0971
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO PRIORITY 3222
RUEHMU/AMEMBASSY MANAGUA PRIORITY 0914
RUEHAO/AMCONSUL CURACAO PRIORITY 0543
RUEHMI/USOFFICE FRC FT LAUDERDALE PRIORITY 2777
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUMIAAA/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL PRIORITY
RUEHUB/USINT HAVANA PRIORITY 0420

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 06 CARACAS 000219

SIPDIS

SECRET NOFORN

SIPDIS
SIPDIS

HQSOUTHCOM ALSO FOR POLAD
FOR FRC LAMBERT

E.O. 12958: DNG: CO 01/26/2021
TAGS: PGOV, PREL, VE
SUBJECT: CUBA/VENEZUELA AXIS OF MISCHIEF: THE VIEW FROM
CARACAS

REF: A. A: HAVANA 00118
B. B: HAVANA 00697
C. C: TD-314/63777-05 LIMITED DISTRIBUTION
D. D: IIR 6 902 9698 06

Classified By: POLITICAL COUNSELOR ROBERT R. DOWNES FOR 1.4 (D)

-------
Summary
-------

1. (S//NF) As noted in REF A, the Venezuelan relationship
with Cuba continues to intensify. Thousands of personnel
sent by the Cuban Government are involved in the Venezuelan
health sector and other BRV social missions. Cubans
cooperate extensively with Venezuelan intelligence services.
Cubans may also participate heavily in the BRV's efforts to
naturalize foreigners and provide documentation for citizens,
according to various reports from Embassy contacts. Cubans'
roles in the military are less clear but probably are also
less significant.

2. (C) Venezuelans' views of individual Cubans are mixed.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez appears to be trying to
promote the involvement of Cubans in Venezuelan society,
although he has proceeded slowly and carefully. Anti-Chavez
politicians have barked up the wrong tree by decrying Cuban
communism and sovereignty violations, issues that simply do
not resonate with poor Venezuelans. While the economic
impact of Cubans working in Venezuela may be limited, Cuban
intelligence has much to offer to Venezuela's anti-U.S.
intelligence services. End Summary.

----------------
How Many Cubans?
----------------

3. (S) Although the numbers of Cubans sent by the GOC to
work in Venezuela are significant, the exact figures are
difficult to establish. Embassy officers have noted regular
flights of Cubans--or Venezuelans returning from official
visits to Cuba--at Caracas's Maiquetia airport. According to
a DOD analysis of flight activity, an average of about 350
people arrive on three to five commercial or military flights
from Cuba to Venezuela per day. Most of these flights land
at Maiquetia, but Barcelona and Maracaibo are also common
destinations. Post cannot determine how many Cubans are on
the flights or how many passengers stay in Venezuela
permanently. Airport officials spirit passengers through the
building without stopping in customs or immigration. ONIDEX,
Venezuela's National Office of Identification and
Immigration, reports that it naturalized only 12 Cubans out
of a group of 22,664 persons naturalized in December 2005.
Whether or not they enjoy Venezuelan citizenship, however,
thousands of Cubans have Venezuelan documentation. In
addition to the over 20,000 Cubans involved in the Venezuelan
health sector (see below), less reliable reports indicate
that thousands more are active in the Venezuelan interior.
Manuel Rosales, the opposition Governor of Zulia State, told
the DCM in October 2005 that 20,000 Cubans resided in Zulia
alone. Former National Assembly deputy Pedro Pablo Alcantara
(Accion Democratica) told us in October that Lara State had
the most Cubans per capita in Venezuela. He claimed more
flights from Havana arrived in Barquisimeto, Lara than in

CARACAS 00000219 002 OF 006


Caracas. Complicating the matter further are some 30,000
Cuban exiles in Venezuela, the Cuban exile NGO Net for Cuba
estimates.

------
Health
------

4. (C) The BRV created Mision Barrio Adentro (Inside the
Neighborhood Mission) to provide basic health care for
disadvantaged neighborhoods in December 2003, shortly after
signing a bilateral agreement with Cuba to swap oil for
medical services. As of mid-2005, about 21,000 Cuban
physicians, nurses, and support staff along with some 6,000
Venezuelan personnel staffed the mission, according to the
Ministry of Communication. Mission clinics are small,
two-story hexagonal structures that also house two to three
doctors. The BRV provides the clinics' equipment and
reduced-cost medicines. Through Barrio Adentro, the BRV
identifies patients eligible for Mision Milagro (Miracle
Mission), which flies Venezuelans to Havana for cataract
surgery. Anecdotal reporting suggests the care Cuban doctors
provide is often lacking and that many "physicians" are
actually medical students. The BRV has recently begun Mision
Barrio Adentro II, a network of more advanced diagnostic
centers and inpatient clinics to be administered and staffed
mostly by Venezuelans.

5. (C) Notwithstanding the 90,000 to 100,000 barrels of oil
Venezuela provides Cuba per day on barter terms, Cuban
doctors earn relatively little. According to press reports,
Cuban doctors receive salaries of up to USD 400 per month, a
figure slightly lower than local averages. A Cuban physician
told Post's medical advisor, however, that he received room,
board, and toiletries but that the Cuban Government was
"holding" his salary until he finished his two-year tour.
Some Cuban doctors have "deserted" and fled. A European
diplomat told polcouns in mid-January 2006 that the number of
Cuban asylum requests received by EU missions in Venezuela
had increased over the past few months. A local legislator
with extensive contacts in poor neighborhoods told us in
November 2005 that Cuban doctors complained bitterly that the
Cuban regime held their families hostage while the doctors
relied on local donations to survive. In contrast, according
to REF B, the GOC receives from Venezuela between USD 1,000
to 5,000 for each Mision Milagro cataract operation, which is
comparable to the roughly USD 3,500 that a Venezuelan private
clinic would charge for the procedure.

------------
Intelligence
------------

6. (S//NF) Sensitive reports indicate Cuban and Venezuelan
intelligence ties are so advanced that the two countries'
agencies appear to be competing with each other for the BRV's
attention. Cuban intelligence officers have direct access to
Chavez and frequently provide him with intelligence reporting
unvetted by Venezuelan officers. Venezuela's Directorate of
Intelligence and Prevention Services (DISIP), moreover, may
be taking advice from Cuban intelligence on the formation of
a new intelligence service (REF C). Cuban intelligence
officers train Venezuelans both in Cuba and in Venezuela,
providing both political indoctrination and operational

CARACAS 00000219 003 OF 006


instruction. They also may work in other Venezuelan
government ministries, unconfirmed sensitive reporting
suggests.

--------
Military
--------

7. (C) Post has received no credible reports of extensive
Cuban involvement in the Venezuelan military, despite the
Venezuelan Armed Forces' attempts to imitate Cuban military
doctrine and uniforms. According to DAO reports, Cubans
train and advise Chavez' military security detail.
Anti-Chavez military officers have told us that Cubans hold
liaison and personnel exchange positions within the
Venezuelan military formerly held by European and other Latin
American officers. Moreover, a few Venezuelan military
officers--along with some from the Foreign Ministry--undergo
ideological training in Cuba. Chavez has also sent a
military team to Cuba construct a complex of 150 houses,
according to press reports.

--------------
Other Sectors?
--------------

8. (S//NF) Cuban involvement in other agencies and missions
is harder to confirm. Cubans have been heavily involved in
ONIDEX, according to various unconfirmed sources. A local
academic with a background in electoral systems told poloff
that Venezuelans trained in Cuba helped expand the national
electoral registry by over two million voters through Mision
Identidad (Identity Mission) in 2003. He added that the
Venezuelan process to receive an identity card was a carbon
copy of the Cuban process. Anti-Chavez military officers
told us in July 2005 that Cubans helped run ONIDEX and
reported that an active duty army colonel was running an
operation to print identity cards for Cubans. According to
an Embassy employee with access to secure areas of Caracas'
Maiquetia airport, Cubans hold supervisory positions at the
airport's auxiliary terminal. Cubans also have established
and continue to service the airport's biometrics equipment,
according to sensitive reports. Some anecdotal sensitive
reporting further suggests Cuban officials had a Venezuelan
officer dismissed for resisting their attempts to take
temporary operational control over a section of the airport
during a visit of Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

9. (C) Ruben Flores, the editor of a rancher newspaper,
told poloff in early 2005 that Cuban involvement in the
agricultural sector was second only to that in the health
sector. Such a claim may be exaggerated, but Cubans are
likely involved to a great extent. According to the
Agricultural Attache, Cuban officials hold senior positions
in the Ministry of Agriculture and also operate in the
Venezuelan interior. Citing technical experts in the
Ministry, Flores told us in January 2006 that Cuban officials
were helping design Venezuela's "Planting Plan 2006," which
would prescribe the crops to be sown in each region. Jaime
Perez Branger, head of the company that owns cattle ranch and
nature preserve Hato Pinero, told us in January that Cubans
advised the BRV on agricultural productivity and on setting
up cooperatives in such missions as Vuelvan Caras. (Vuelvan
Caras, or "About Face," is a BRV program offering six months

CARACAS 00000219 004 OF 006


of job training, after which participants form cooperatives,
often in the agricultural sector.) Venezuela, South
America's only net importer of agricultural products, is also
setting up Cuban sugar mills in Venezuela in the wake of
Cuba's failing sugar industry.

10. (C) Industry contacts have told the Agricultural
Attache that Cubans helped design and manage Mision Mercal,
the BRV's subsidized grocery program. An Arthur D. Little
consultant told us in February 2005 that a Cuban vice
minister of commerce works with Mercal full-time. Flores
told poloff in January 2006 that ALIMPORT, Cuba's agency that
handles all food imports, was advising the BRV on food
distribution. Venezuela finances some of its own food
imports through a Havana branch of the Industrial Bank of
Venezuela, and Chavez' brother Adan Chavez, the Venezuelan
Ambassador there, may profit illicitly from the loan process,
according to DAO reporting (REF D).

--------------------------
Venezuelan Views of Cubans
--------------------------

11. (SBU) Cuban citizens' resentment of Venezuelans (REF A)
is not completely mutual. Some Venezuelans, including many
who experienced the infiltration of violent Cuban
revolutionaries during the 1960s, do dislike Cubans. The
average Venezuelan's view of Cubans, however, is more
nuanced. Some poor Venezuelans admire Cubans involved in the
missions for providing free services. Others, while
disapproving of their political system, appreciate Cuban
culture displayed by individual Cubans, especially those
among the exile community.

12. (SBU) Chavez appears to be trying to promote a friendly
image of Cubans. Cubans have appeared increasingly on public
television, including on Chavez' "Alo Presidente" show.
Images of crossed Cuban and Venezuelan flags have also begun
to appear in Caracas. The polling firm Datanalisis reports
that Chavez' recent attempts to "sell" the Cuban political
model may have increased Venezuelans' rejection of the Cuban
regime from May 2005 (63 percent) to October 2005 (81
percent). (Embassy note: Whether Chavez' promotion of Cuba
is paying off or backfiring is unclear. Answers to
Datanalisis' question, "what do you think of Venezuela taking
the Cuban regime as a model," may reflect a growing sense of
nationalism and uniqueness among Venezuelans--consistent with
Chavez' calls for a "new socialism"--rather than a rejection
of Cubans. Indeed, almost half of the Chavez supporters
polled, who would seem least likely to oppose Cuba, responded
negatively.)

13. (SBU) Despite the increasing publicity, signs of
Cuban-Venezuelan partnership in Caracas are not as ubiquitous
as they apparently are in Havana, and Cubans generally keep a
low profile. Chavez' sense of self-importance may partly
explain why Cuba figures less prominently. The "Bolivarian
Alternative for Latin America" is not a synonym for
Cuban-Venezuelan cooperation in Venezuela because Chavez
pitches it as a movement he has launched throughout the
hemisphere. Chavez features call-ins from Castro during his
public appearances, such as a mid-January 2006 sendoff for
Venezuelans going to study medicine in Cuba. Nonetheless,
Chavez does not part with the spotlight for long. His weekly

CARACAS 00000219 005 OF 006


"Alo Presidente" broadcasts routinely run longer than five
hours.

----------------------------
The Opposition Has Failed...
----------------------------

14. (C) Some of Chavez' opponents appear to be trying to
inflame a prejudice against Cubans that is uncommon among
Venezuelans. They rant about "Cuban invaders" and
"sovereignty violations" that resonate little with the
Venezuelan poor. Opposition politicians also berate Chavez
for attempting to introduce Cuban communism, although few
Venezuelans believe he will do so. Former opposition
National Assembly deputy Carlos Casanova (Socialdemocrata)
told poloff the public's response to the opposition was "look
around, this isn't communism, chico!" Still, over-the-top
critiques can impede focused criticism. Asked how the
opposition could exploit opposition to Chavez' oil "loans" to
Cuba, Accion Democratica's former international relations
secretary Alfredo Coronil replied to poloff that Cuba was

SIPDIS
planning to intervene in Africa after Venezuela, brushing
aside poloff's remark that Cuba could hardly still afford
adventurism on a Cold War scale.

15. (C) The political opposition does little to exploit
alleged medical malpractice in Mision Barrio Adentro or to
report on returning Mision Milagro patients' impressions of
Cuba. In fact, much of the opposition remains ignorant of
how such missions work because it does not reach out to poor
neighborhoods for the most part. One anti-Chavez retired
military officer, however, told poloff in June 2005 that
groups of Venezuelan doctors had begun treating people in
poor areas with the support of certain pharmacies. The scope
of the initiative is unclear.

-----------------------------------
...But Finally Getting the Picture?
-----------------------------------

16. (U) Primero Justicia (PJ) has been the only political
party to criticize Chavez consistently for his handouts to
other countries. Promising additional programs to
redistribute oil wealth, PJ presidential candidate Julio
Borges has asked the BRV to explain why ordinary Venezuelans
are not receiving the money sent to Cuba, according to press
reports. With the closure of the Caracas-La Guaira bridge,
other elements of the opposition are also beginning to
contrast BRV gifts abroad with problems at home. An internet
blog site has displayed the amounts spent on foreign
infrastructure next to photos of the crumbling bridge.
During its assembly in mid-January 2006, the Venezuelan
Episcopal Conference criticized grants and loans the BRV had
awarded overseas.

-------
Comment
-------

17. (C) The economic impact of Cubans in Venezuela is mixed
but limited. (Venezuelan subsidies to Cuba, on the other
hand, could eventually pose greater problems for the BRV
(SEPTEL).) By helping the BRV pad its voter rolls and
naturalize suspicious immigrants, Cubans are doing jobs that

CARACAS 00000219 006 OF 006

Venezuelan government personnel could and would do in their
absence. Cuban doctors, however, are treating communities
mostly unreached by Venezuelan health services. Venezuela
continues to purchase costly conventional weapons systems
despite the influence on paper of Cuba's "asymmetric" warfare
doctrine.

18. (S//NF) The impact of Cuban involvement in Venezuelan
intelligence could impact U.S. interests directly.
Venezuelan intelligence services are among the most hostile
towards the United States in the hemisphere, but they lack
the expertise that Cuban services can provide. Cuban
intelligence routinely provides the BRV intelligence reports
about the activities of the USG. Cuban dissemination of
ideological propaganda in Venezuela is less of a threat.
Chavez, the revolution's most effective proponent, still
appears to be involving Cubans in public discourse and BRV
projects with some discretion.
BROWNFIELD

Source: El Pais

Secret USINT cable: Cuban inteligence agents "highly effective"

This cable is a response to a survey about security, political violence, terrorism and the capabilities of Cuban authorities.

ID: 194480
Date: 2009-02-27 21:20:00
Origin: 09HAVANA132
Source: US Interests Section Havana
Classification: SECRET
Dunno: 09STATE13023
Destination: R 272120Z FEB 09
FM USINT HAVANA
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 4178
INFO CIA WASHINGTON DC
DIA WASHINGTON DC
FBI WASHINGTON DC

S E C R E T HAVANA 000132


DEPARTMENT FOR DS/TIA/ITA

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/27/2024
TAGS: ASEC, PTER
SUBJECT: USINT HAVANA RESPONSE TO SPRING 2009 SEPQ

REF: STATE 013023

Classified By: RSO TEDD ARCHABAL FOR REASONS 1.5 (C, D)

1. (SBU) Post responses are keyed to the Spring 2009
Security Environment Profile Questionnaire (reftel). There
has been no significant change to the security or threat
environment in Havana since our last submission.

------------------
POLITICAL VIOLENCE
------------------

2. (U) DEMONSTRATIONS

A. (SBU) No. The Government of Cuba (GOC) maintains almost
total control over all organizations on the island. The most
autonomous large organization is the Catholic Church, which
wields limited autonomy. Any group demonstrating against the
United States would be doing so at the GOC's behest, or at a
minimum with their approval. The U.S. Interests Section
(USINT) doubts whether any ethnic or religious groups in Cuba
would demonstrate, at their own initiative, against the
United States.

i. (SBU) Demonstrations have taken place in the last 12
months. The last was held in June / July 2008 at the Jose
Marti Anti-Imperialist Plaza (see below) in commemoration of
the Cuba Five. The event was peaceful but USINT employees
had some trouble arriving at work because the road adjacent
to the Interests Section where employees park was closed.

ii. (SBU) Periodically, the GOC sponsors rallies at the
Jose Marti Anti-Imperialist Plaza adjacent to the Interests
Section but they tend to be in commemoration of Cuban
revolutionary anniversaries and are not strictly
Anti-American in nature. There have been four rallies in the
past year - the most recent a celebration of the 50th
anniversary of Cuba's revolution on January 3, 2009.

iii. (SBU) Between 2,000 and 3,000 persons.

iv. (SBU) U.S. foreign policy as it relates to Cuba.

B. Demonstrations are generally peaceful

i. N/A

ii. (SBU) As reported in the Fall 2008 SEPQ, an individual
scaled the perimeter fence at USINT's Refugee Processing
Annex in April 2008. The incident was not considered a
violent demonstration and was handled administratively. In
October 2008, an intruder scaled a perimeter gate at the
Chief of Mission's Residence and gained access to the home.
The individual did not threaten anyone but was later
identified as the same man who harassed two female FTE
employees outside USINT. The matter was referred to the
Ministry of Foreign Relations.

C. (C) Unknown. Impromptu protests have been reported
through various means yet the GOC actively tries to suppress
information that any demonstrations have occurred. It is
conceivable but not likely that one of these demonstrations
could escalate to violence and spread to other parts of the
city and/or country.

i. N/A
ii. N/A
iii. N/A
iv. N/A

3. (U) MACRO CONFLICT CONDITIONS

A. No
B. No
C. No
D. No

4. (U) HOST COUNTRY CAPABILITIES

A. (S) Varies among agencies/units. The regular police
patrolling Havana are ubiquitous but appear to have limited
training and outdated equipment. Directly outside the USINT
perimeter gate, four armed officers from the National Police
Force (Policia Nacional Revolucionaria) and between 10-12
unarmed officers from the Specialized Protective Services
unit (SEPSA) provide 24-hour guard service. Periodic
requests to meet with SEPSA and/or PNR supervisors are
denied. In addition, USINT strongly believes that SEPSA is
charged with the dual mission of protecting USINT's perimeter
and providing counterintelligence information to the Ministry
of Interior (MININT). Pursuant to two residential security
incidents in the past six months, RSO requested MININT
assistance and observed their personnel conducting basic
crime scene investigations (photographs, fingerprints,
footprints) but little in the way of witness or neighborhood
interviews. Cuba does, however, have well-trained,
professional paramilitary forces that would be utilized to
protect USINT assets should a crisis warrant their
deployment. Such a deployment would likely require a
high-level political decision by the GOC.

B. No

C. (S) Yes. Corruption in Cuba is an accepted means of
survival. The average Cuban makes about $18 a month, and low
and mid-level police officials earn similar salaries. In
short, Cuban law enforcement is confronted with serious and
widespread corruption. Some things that are considered
corrupt in the United States such as conflict of interest,
double dipping and influence peddling are integral parts of
Cuba's standard operating procedures.

D. (S) Yes. Both the Directorate of Intelligence and the
Directorate of Counterintelligence of MININT are professional
and capable services. They are highly effective at
penetrating networks on the island and actively pursuing
individuals they believe to be terrorists. One must note
that the GOC believes opposition groups in Cuba are
terrorists sponsored by the United States.

E. (C) No. There is very little cooperation and the GOC
generally does not respond to requests for information.

F. N/A

G. (S) As mentioned above, the GOC posts armed police and
unarmed security guards along the perimeter of the Interests
Section and Refugee Processing facilities, and outside the
COM residence. In September 2008, USINT's Refugee Program
Coordinator was threatened, in writing, by one of the "Group
of 75" freed political prisoners for delays in processing his
refugee case. RSO Havana immediately forwarded a diplomatic
note to the Ministry of Foreign Relations requesting
assistance but did not receive a response until almost one
month later. In addition, RSO Havana attempted to meet with
SEPSA supervisors to increase security outside the Refugee
Processing Annex but was told to send the request to MINREX.
Attempts to meet with SEPSA and MINREX liaison officers are
routinely ignored.

H. Very good
I. Effective
J. Effective

--------------------
INDIGENOUS TERRORISM
--------------------

5. (U) ANTI-AMERICAN TERRORIST GROUPS

A. No
B. N/A
C. N/A
D. N/A
E. N/A
F. N/A
G. N/A

6. (U) OTHER INDIGENOUS TERRORIST GROUPS

A. No
B. N/A
C. N/A
D. N/A

-----------------------
TRANSNATIONAL TERRORISM
-----------------------

7. (U) TRANSNATIONAL TERRORIST INDICATORS

A. (C) Yes. We have reliable reporting indicating the
presence of ELN, FARC and ETA members here in Havana. That
said, they are unlikely to conduct terrorist operations in
Cuba.

B. (C) The specific activities of these groups are largely
unknown but Post was able to corroborate that ETA members
assisting the FARC had spent time in Cuba and some even had
family members in country. There is little chance of any
operational activity given the need for safehaven.

C. (C) Yes. The GOC allows these groups to enjoy R&R in
Cuba and receive medical care and other services (NFI).
Reporting also indicates that the GOC is able to influence
the FARC. The Cuban Communist Party International Department
(PCC/ID) has close relationships with the Clandestine
Communist Party of Colombia (PCC) which serves as the
political wing of the FARC, and to some extent the ELN as
well.

D. (S) Yes. The Al Ma'Sumin (Shia) Islamic Center located
in Havana has established ties with, and receives support
from, the Government of Iran.

E. No

F. (C) Very little threat. Although the GOC maintains
diplomatic ties with these states and many of these states
maintain a diplomatic presence/embassy in Havana, we have
seen no evidence that the GOC allows hostile intelligence
service to plan terrorist, anti-U.S. operations in Cuba.
Conventional wisdom in the diplomatic community is that the
GOC is anxious to avoid giving the United States a rationale
to conduct counterterrorism operations against it. Moreover,
the GOC guards its own prerogatives jealously and would not
want a foreign service or organization operating on its soil
even if relations between the GOC and that organization or
service were excellent. Post gauges the most immediate
threat from hostile intelligence services to be from a
counterintelligence perspective.

G. (C) Very little threat. It has long been assumed that
firearms are difficult to procure clandestinely in Cuba but
previous reporting (2005) claimed evidence of criminal
elements obtaining weapons (NFI). Another potential threat
includes AWOL soldiers or deserters who have kept their
weapons and used them in criminal acts. Two historic
examples bear mention. In one, a group of three hijacked an
aircraft and in the other a group hijacked a ferry with both
trying to go to the United States. Nevertheless, tight state
controls in Cuba make arms smuggling and possession of
explosives more difficult that in neighboring countries.

FARRAR

Source of cable: El Pais
Note: Wikileaks shows this link for this cable, but it leads to a document about Russia, not Cuba.

Ex-wife: Hugo Chavez "loyal to no one," but confides in Fidel Castro

Source of photo: Yohandry's Weblog

Fidel Castro is one of the few people Hugo Chavez trusts, the Venezuelan president's former common-law wife says.
The former partner, Herma Marksman, describes Chavez as an ambitious man who is bent on transforming Venezuela, according to a confidential U.S. embassy cable that is among those that Wikileaks began releasing on Nov. 29.
He is not "an idiot," as some of his foes contend, Marksman said.
The author of the cable concludes:
WHILE MARKSMAN'S STATEMENTS MAY BE BIASED, SHE DOES OFFER A UNIQUE PERSPECTIVE INTO THE CURRENT PRESIDENT. HER CHARACTERIZATION OF CHAVEZ AS AN AMBITIOUS, DETERMINED MAN
CONTRASTS WITH THE OPPOSITION'S PORTRAYAL OF HIM AT TIMES AS A BUFFOON. CHAVEZ'S UNWILLINGNESS TO TRUST OTHERS, HOWEVER, LIKELY CONTRIBUTES TO HIS GOVERNMENT'S FAILURE IN EXECUTING MANY OF HIS INITIATIVES.
The text of the cable is below:

ID: 18574
Date: 2004-07-09 15:14:00
Origin: 04CARACAS2200
Source: Embassy Caracas
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Dunno:
Destination: This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 CARACAS 002200

SIPDIS

NSC FOR CBARTON
HQ USSOUTHCOM ALSO FOR POLAD
USAID DCHA/OTI FOR RPORTER

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/02/2014
TAGS: PGOV, VE
SUBJECT: CHAVEZ'S FORMER PARTNER DISCUSSES THE DEVELOPMENT
OF HIS POLITICS

CLASSIFIED BY: A/DCM ABELARDO A. ARIAS FOR REASONS 1.4 (D)

-------
SUMMARY
-------

1. (C) HERMA MARKSMAN, CHAVEZ'S FORMER COMMON-LAW WIFE FROM
1984-1993, SPOKE TO POLOFFS ON JULY 1 ABOUT THE DEVELOPMENT
OF CHAVEZ'S POLITICAL IDEOLOGY. SHE CLAIMS THAT CHAVEZ WAS
INFLUENCED BY 1960'S GUERRILLAS. MARKSMAN DISAGREED WITH THE
OPPOSITION'S PORTRAYAL OF CHAVEZ AS AN IDIOT AND WARNED THAT
HE IS A DETERMINED MAN WHO TRUSTS FEW PEOPLE. WHILE WE
ACKNOWLEDGE THAT SOME OF HER INFORMATION MAY BE BIASED, WE
THOUGHT WASHINGTON MAY APPRECIATE AN INSIGHT INTO CHAVEZ FROM
SOMEONE WHO KNEW HIM INTIMATELY BEFORE HE ENTERED THE
NATIONAL STAGE. END SUMMARY.

---------------------------------------
ROOTS OF CHAVEZ'S BOLIVARIAN REVOLUTION
---------------------------------------

2. (C) HERMA MARKSMAN, A HISTORY PROFESSOR AND CHAVEZ'S
FORMER COMMON-LAW WIFE, DISCUSSED HOW CHAVEZ ARRIVED TO HIS
CURRENT POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY. (NOTE: COMMON-LAW MARRIAGE IS
A WIDESPREAD PRACTICE IN VENEZUELA.) AS A POOR CHILD GROWING
UP IN THE RURAL STATE OF BARINAS, MARKSMAN ALLEGES CHAVEZ WAS
INFLUENCED BY A TEACHER, WHO ADMIRED FIDEL CASTRO AND CHE
GUEVARA. SHE CLAIMS THAT CHAVEZ WAS AMBITIOUS FROM AN EARLY
AGE AND EVEN THOUGHT OF RUNNING THE COUNTRY AS A 20 YEAR-OLD.

3. (C) AS A JUNIOR OFFICER, CHAVEZ SOON FELL UNDER THE
INFLUENCE OF DOUGLAS BRAVO, A FORMER COMMUNIST AND GUERRILLA
LEADER DURING THE 1960S. CHAVEZ'S BROTHER, ADAN, PLAYED A
KEY ROLE IN INTRODUCING CHAVEZ TO BRAVO, ACCORDING TO LOCAL
PRESS REPORTS. MARKSMAN STATED THAT IT WAS BRAVO, NOT
CHAVEZ, WHO DEVELOPED THE PHILOSOPHY OF THE BOLIVARIAN
REVOLUTION, WHICH IS ROOTED IN THE WORKS OF SIMON RODRIGUEZ,
SIMON BOLIVAR, AND EZEQUIEL ZAMORA. BRAVO'S MOVEMENT
STRESSED THE NEED FOR CIVIL-MILITARY COOPERATION TO IMPLEMENT
THE BOLIVARIAN REVOLUTION. WHILE CHAVEZ BROKE WITH BRAVO IN
1986, HE MAINTAINED BRAVO'S POLITICAL IDEOLOGY, WHICH PLAYED
A KEY ROLE IN CHAVEZ'S FAILED COUP IN 1992. MARKSMAN ALLUDED
TO THE FAILED COUP--WHICH SHE HAS PUBLICLY CRITICIZED--AS A
CONTRIBUTING FACTOR TO HER ENDING THE RELATIONSHIP, THOUGH
SHE DID NOT DIRECTLY STATE THE REASON FOR ENDING THE AFFAIR
WITH CHAVEZ.

-----------------------
CHAVEZ IS NOBODY'S FOOL
-----------------------

4. (C) THROUGHOUT HER MEETING WITH POLOFFS, MARKSMAN ASSERTED
THAT CHAVEZ SHOULD NOT BE UNDERESTIMATED. SHE DESCRIBED THE
PRESIDENT AS AN EXCELLENT STORYTELLER, WHO OFTEN
CHARACTERIZES HIS OPPONENTS AS DEVILS, WHICH IS A POWERFUL
RELIGIOUS SYMBOL AMONG THE POOR. WHILE THE EDUCATED CLASS
MAY SCOFF AT CHAVEZ'S FIVE-HOUR TELEVISION BROADCASTS,
MARKSMAN CLAIMED THAT THE POOR BELIEVE THAT THE PRESIDENT IS
INTERESTED IN THEIR ISSUES. SHE ALSO STATED THAT CHAVEZ IS
FOCUSED ON HIS GOAL OF TRANSFORMING THE COUNTRY AND IS
WILLING TO WIN AT ANY COSTS. CHAVEZ WOULD ONLY HAVE AGREED
TO THE PRESIDENTIAL RECALL REFERENDUM IF HE THOUGHT HE COULD
WIN, ACCORDING TO MARKSMAN.

------------------------
CHAVEZ'S INNER CIRCLE
------------------------

5. (C) MARKSMAN STATED THAT CHAVEZ IS LOYAL TO NO ONE AND
DOES NOT HAVE TRUE FRIENDS. IF HE HAS A PROBLEM, HE WILL
ONLY CONFIDE IN HIS BROTHER, ADAN, WHOM SHE CHARACTERIZED AS
A COMMUNIST, AND CUBAN LEADER FIDEL CASTRO. SHE ALLEGED THAT

CARACAS 00002200 002 OF 002

OUPS IN LATIN AMERICA. SHE
STATED THAT CHAVEZ DOES HAVE SEVERAL OF ADAN'S FRIENDS IN
GOVERNMENT, INCLUDING GUILLERMO GARCIA PONCE--A POLITICAL
ADVISER TO CHAVEZ, MEMBER OF THE DEFUNCT POLITICAL
PARTICIPATION COMMISSION OF THE NATIONAL ELECTORAL COUNCIL,
EDITOR OF VEA NEWSPAPER, AND COMMUNIST PARTY OFFICIAL.

6. (C) SHE LISTED SEVERAL INDIVIDUALS WHOM SHE CONSIDERED TO
BE THE MOST DANGEROUS MEN IN GOVERNMENT, INCLUDING DIOSDADO
CABELLO (FORMER INFRASTRUCTURE MINISTER, NATIONAL LOGISTICS
COORDINATOR FOR THE COMANDO MAISANTA AND GUBERNATORIAL
CANDIDATE FOR MIRANDA STATE); AND ELIECER OTAIZA (FORMER
DIRECTOR OF CIVILIAN INTELLIGENCE SERVICE, DISIP, AND THE
CURRENT DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR COOPERATIVE
EDUCATION, INCE). AS CHIEF OF INCE, OTAIZA HAS RUN VARIOUS
"MISSION" PROGRAMS, ACCORDING TO MARKSMAN. SHE ALSO
MENTIONED WILLIAM IZARRA, DIRECTOR OF IDEOLOGY FOR THE
COMANDO MAISANTA, JESSE CHACON, COMMUNICATIONS AND
INFORMATION MINISTER, AND RONALDO BLANCO LA CRUZ, GOVERNOR OF
TACHIRA STATE.

-------
COMMENT
-------

7. (C) WHILE MARKSMAN'S STATEMENTS MAY BE BIASED, SHE DOES
OFFER A UNIQUE PERSPECTIVE INTO THE CURRENT PRESIDENT. HER
CHARACTERIZATION OF CHAVEZ AS AN AMBITIOUS, DETERMINED MAN
CONTRASTS WITH THE OPPOSITION'S PORTRAYAL OF HIM AT TIMES AS
A BUFFOON. CHAVEZ'S UNWILLINGNESS TO TRUST OTHERS, HOWEVER,
LIKELY CONTRIBUTES TO HIS GOVERNMENT'S FAILURE IN EXECUTING
MANY OF HIS INITIATIVES.
MCFARLAND

NNNN
2004CARACA02200 - CONFIDENTIAL
Source: El Pais

More than a quarter of leaked Cuba cables from 2009-2010

The leaked diplomatic cables originating at the U.S. Interests Section in Havana aren't going to be old news.
The vast majority of the 507 cables listed in a Wikileaks spreadsheet are less than five years old. About 29 percent - or 146 - are from 2009 and 2010. And more than 40 percent - or 204 - were transmitted after Jonathan Farrar became chief of the Interests Section in July 2008.
The age of the cables is important because the newer the document, the more likely it is to stir up new trouble in U.S.-Cuba relations.
The documents have not yet been posted on Wikileaks' Cablegate site, but a quick analysis of tags in the spreadsheet (see 19-page PDF version) shows that major topics of interest are Cuba's political affairs, the country's relations with other countries and human rights.

Here's a breakdown of the cables from 2006 to 2010:
2010 - 12
2009 - 134
2008 - 150
2007 - 116
2006 - 79
That totals 491 cables or 97 percent. Here are the years for the remaining 16 cables:
2002 - 1
2001 - 1
1999 - 1
1997 - 1
1996 - 1
1994 - 4
1993 - 1
1992 - 1
1990 - 2
1989 - 1
1988 - 1
1987 - 1
I haven't done an exhaustive analysis of the spreadsheet. But I wanted to get sense for the contents of the documents, so I searched tags to find some of the most common acronyms. Here they are, along with the number of time they are listed:
PREL - External political relations - 326
PGOV - Internal governmental affairs - 281
PHUM - Human rights - 266
PNIR - Intelligence - 163
ECON - Economic conditions - 110
Other tags in the documents include:
ASEC - Security - 35
PINS - National security - 21
EAID - Foreign economic assistance - 19
EFIN - Financial and monetary affairs - 12
AEMR - Emergency planning and evacuation - 8
OREP - U.S. congressional travel - 7
EINT - Economic and commercial Internet - 4
The tag PTER - Terrorists and terrorism - turns up just 11 times, which is interesting considering that Cuba is on the State Department's list of State Sponsors of Terrorism. You'd think that number would be higher if Cuba were a hotbed of terrorist activity.
The acroynm PROP - Propaganda and psychological operations - gets three mentions; Venezuela gets two. These get one mention each:
TINT - Internet technology
TBIO - Biological and medical science
EINV - Foreign investment
OEXC - Educational and cultural exchange opportunities
Here's a link to a glossary of acronyms. Some of the tags shown in the Cuba cables aren't listed.
I don't know how many of the 251,287 leaked cables relate to Cuba. This seven-page PDF listing the leaked cables shows 507 originated from the Interests Section. A separate graph, below, shows that more than 2,000 of the leaked records mention Cuba. Perhaps that number is higher because it includes documents that didn't originate at the Interests Section. I'm sure more of this will become clear as time goes on.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Prosecutors will link Posada Carriles to Cuba bombings

Havana billboard

Cuban authorities have evidently denied U.S. government requests to allow two key witnesses to travel to Texas to testify against Luis Posada Carriles, a Nov. 25 court document shows.
Prosecutors in the Posada Carriles' case write:
  • Within the last twenty-four hours, we have learned that the GOC (Government of Cuba) has apparently denied our requests that Otto Rene Rodriguez Llerena and Mr. Francisco Chavez Abarca be allowed to leave Cuba and appear as witnesses at the defendant’s trial. We have not yet received formal notification of this denial.
  • Llerena is serving a 30 year sentence for bombing Havana hotels in 1997. (We were permitted to question Llerena in Cuba in January of this year – as would have defendant’s counsel if he had chosen to join us.)
  • Abarca has just recently – late October of this year – apparently been extradited from Venezuela to Cuba and faces trial for his role in the Havana bombing campaign. Both men implicate the defendant as an organizer of the campaign to cripple tourism by the bombings and their testimony would further expose the defendant’s lies under oath to U. S. Immigration officials.
I can understand why Cuban officials want to keep Chavez Abarca and Rodriguez Llerena in Cuba. Chavez Abarca hasn't even gone to trial yet. Cuban authorities will make a big show of his trial, I expect. They can't risk sending him to the United States before that trial happens no matter how bad they want to see Posada Carriles convicted.
Rodriguez Llerena is a valuable witness who has implicated Posada Carriles in the string of bombings in Cuba in 1997 and 1998. But U.S. officials have already talked to him, and I imagine his deposition will be available at trial.
As it is, prosecutors have a mountain of files and reports implicating Posada Carriles in the Cuba bombings.
Posada Carriles accuses prosecutors of belatedly introducing thousands of pages of new documents, making it impossible for him to prepare for his January trial.
But prosecutors deny that in convincing fashion in the Nov. 25 document and say Posada Carriles has shown only fleeting interest in evidence against him. The 21-page document says:
In March 2007, the United States invited the defendant to travel to the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., and encouraged him to view its files regarding the Havana, Cuba bombing campaign of 1997-1998. Defendant stayed for thirty minutes, left of his own volition, and never sought to return. There was no time limit imposed on the discovery session.
Additionally, in December 2009, the United States invited the defendant to travel to Cuba with one of the undersigned government attorneys in order to interview potential witnesses to the bombing events in Cuba. Defendant chose not to travel to Cuba.
On November 8, 2010, more than two months before the scheduled trial date, the United States produced to the defendant a disc containing the same documents and electronic files which the defendant had the opportunity to inspect in March 2007. These files include reports about which the defendant could have questioned actual witnesses in Cuba. The files comprise 3,252 pages, and six videos, which were provided to the United States by the Government of Cuba.
The Nov. 25 document also describes 1,761 pages of Cuban government reports that will be introduced as evidence.
The first document, entitled - Reports Handed Over to the FBI American Delegation - is a 70-page synopsis of the bombing campaign carried out against Cuba in 1997 and 1998 which provides: (1) an overview of when and where the attacks occurred; (2) an explanation of who was involved in planning the attacks; and (3) a summary of the types of explosive devices used. Of course, the report has been translated into English.
The remaining seven documents give in-depth accounts of each bombings. They are:
  1. The ―Volcan report: a 563-page, four-volume document detailing attacks at several different locations in Havana, including the Melia Cohiba hotel, the Capri hotel, the Nacional hotel, the Copacabana hotel, the Chateau Miramar hotel, the Triton hotel, as well as the Bodeguita del Medio restaurant.
  2. The ―Guatemala report: a 190-page document describing two Guatemalan individuals who were found attempting to bring explosive devices in to Cuba and were arrested at Havana’s Jose Marti International Airport.
  3. The ―Panel Kiosco – Hotel Palmeras report: a 190-page document discussing an explosion at the ―Sol Palmeras hotel in Veradero, Mantanzas, Cuba, as well as the investigation into explosive devices that were discovered on a tourist minibus in Havana, and at a booth in the Jose Marti International Airport.
  4. The ―Salvador report: a 382-page, two-volume document covering the explosion of a bomb in the Melia Cohiba hotel in Havana, as well as the arrest of Otto Rene Rodriguez Llerena upon his arrival at the Jose Marti International Airport in Havana as he was attempting to carry parts which were to be assembled into explosive devices.
  5. The ―Chess report: a 55-page document discussing an explosive device that was found at the Comodoro hotel in Havana when a children’s chess tournament was taking place.
  6. The ―Palm report: a 146-page document that includes statements by suspects who were investigated in connection with the bombing campaign, and further information about the bombing of the Sol Palmeras hotel.
  7. The ―Frayle report: a 165-page document providing information about a cooperating witness Percy Francisco Alvarado Godoy, who used the pseudonym Frayle.
Prosecutors say:
The United States intends to prove that the bombings in Cuba actually occurred. We expect no stipulations from the defendant in this regard. The United States anticipates using only the requisite amount of the Cuba documents to prove that these attacks took place. The defendant will have his own trial strategy.
As before mentioned, the United States currently intends to call two to three witnesses from Cuba, and one Italian citizen who was next to his best friend, Italian national Mr. Fabio Di Celmo when a bomb exploded mortally wounding him. The United States will likely call two Cuban policemen and a Cuban doctor who conducted the autopsy of Mr. Di Celmo.
In addition to being aware of the Cuba-related evidence in this case, the defendant was given the opportunity to view the Cuba documents in March 2007. The United States made the documents available and provided defense counsel with a room in which to view the documents. Counsel stayed for a short period before choosing to leave, and did not elect to accept the invitation to return the next day to view the documents again.
Additionally, defense counsel also declined repeatedly invitations to accompany attorneys for the United States when they traveled to Cuba in January 2010 to view evidence and meet with potential witnesses.
During oral arguments before the Court on November 18, 2010, the defendant described this recent discovery production as a set of documents as comprising more than 6,000 pages, many of which are in Spanish and are difficult to translate due to their technical nature. This inaccurate description not only miscalculates the number of Cuba documents actually produced, but also fails to acknowledge that an English translation was provided for every single Spanish document that was turned over. The defendant has ample time to review the Cuba documents prior to trial, and has already received substantial discovery in this case related to the Havana bombing campaign and the death of Mr. DiCelmo. The defendant would not be substantially prejudiced by the inclusion at trial of the information contained within the Cuba documents.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Wikileaks: Secret U.S. embassy cables will reveal spying, backroom deals

Wikileaks has released 220 of 251,287 State Department cables so far. I skimmed through the documents - located here - and didn't see any that originated in Havana. But in the coming weeks and months, they will find their way onto the Wikileaks website and many others.
I am intrigued by this huge release of documents, which includes secret and classified material. I am interested in what goes on behind the scenes. Many of these documents, no doubt, have great value for scholars and journalists trying to understand momentous events in history.
At the same time, I believe some secrets are justified, and I sympathize with American officials who are now going to have a harder time protecting national interests.
This leak may help promote greater transparency and honesty in government. At the same time, it could endanger American lives and that is tragic.
The release of these documents will also cost U.S. taxpayers millions of dollars, I suspect, as the federal government scrambles to mend fences with offended parties around the world and boost security procedures to try to prevent future leaks.
Wikileaks said it has released information relating to 100 countries over the past four years, and there have been no reports that the information has caused harm to anyone.
The website also says it asked the State Department to point out any cables that might cause harm. Wikileaks said:
As part of the review process, we requested the US State Department, which has claimed to have conducted an extensive review of the material of its own over the last few months, to provide the titles of the cables which we should look at with extra care.
The State Department refused to provide that information, or negotiate any other arrangement, suggesting that its desire to cover up at all costs eclipses its bona fide desire to minimise potential harm.
In announcing the release, Wikileaks said:
The cables, which date from 1966 up until the end of February this year, contain confidential communications between 274 embassies in countries throughout the world and the State Department in Washington DC. 15,652 of the cables are classified Secret.
The embassy cables will be released in stages over the next few months. The subject matter of these cables is of such importance, and the geographical spread so broad, that to do otherwise would not do this material justice.
The cables show the extent of US spying on its allies and the UN; turning a blind eye to corruption and human rights abuse in "client states"; backroom deals with supposedly neutral countries; lobbying for US corporations; and the measures US diplomats take to advance those who have access to them.
This document release reveals the contradictions between the US’s public persona and what it says behind closed doors – and shows that if citizens in a democracy want their governments to reflect their wishes, they should ask to see what’s going on behind the scenes.
Every American schoolchild is taught that George Washington – the country’s first President – could not tell a lie. If the administrations of his successors lived up to the same principle, today’s document flood would be a mere embarrassment. Instead, the US Government has been warning governments -- even the most corrupt -- around the world about the coming leaks and is bracing itself for the exposures.
Photo credit: PressTV

Leak includes more than 500 USINT cables

Here's Havana on the list

Attached is a seven-page PDF which shows a breakdown of the State Department cables released by Wikileaks. Some 507 cables are related to the U.S. Interests Section in Havana.
On Page 4 of the list is Havana, wedged between Skopje, Macedonia, and of Nouakchott, Mauritania, in the Sahara desert. I wonder if that says anything about where Cuba ranks in U.S. government priorities...

Ros-Lehtinen: Wikileaks release "extremely irresponsible," endangers lives

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen today condemned the Wikileaks release, saying:
This latest release of classified and other sensitive U.S. documents by Wikileaks is extremely irresponsible. Those who leak and publish such information are doing great harm to our nation, and are potentially putting American lives in danger.
This newest batch of documents appears to contain troves of classified reports related to our nation’s conduct of diplomacy and foreign policy, including reports of critical discussions with our allies. This is the everyday work-product of our officials all over the globe. This critical and highly sensitive information must be managed carefully.
It is deeply disturbing that a few individuals seem to have deemed themselves worthy of deciding that scores of classified and sensitive material should be paraded about for our enemies to review and use against us. These leaks come at the expense of U.S. security and, potentially, American lives.
Photo credit: Sky News.

Secret U.S. cable gives intel-collection tips

Wikileaks today is releasing thousands State Department cables today. A July 31, 2009, cable gave U.S. employees guidelines on United Nations-related intelligence material they ought to collect.
The cable, marked "secret," is described as the "full text of the new National HUMINT Collection Directive (NHCD) on the United Nations." The State Department sent the cable to employees in at least 36 American embassies and missions. Some of the information in the cable has a Cuba connection.
The cable reads:
The NHCD below supercedes the 2004 NHCD and reflects the results of a recent Washington review of reporting and collection needs focused on the United Nations.
The review produced a comprehensive list of strategic priorities (paragraph 3) and reporting and collection needs (paragraph 4) intended to guide participating USG agencies as they allocate resources and update plans to collect information on the United Nations. The priorities should also serve as a useful tool to help the Embassy manage reporting and collection, including formulation of Mission Strategic Plans (MSPs).
The cable asks employees to be on the alert for a wide range of information, including the following:
-- Views of UNSC members and other member states on Cuban, Iranian, or Syrian candidacy for any UN leadership positions.
-- Efforts by member states-*particularly China, Cuba, Israel, Russia, and Islamic countries*-to obtain NGO affiliation for organizations supporting their policies.
-- Plans and intentions of UNHRC members to support or oppose US policies in the UNHRC.
-- Personalities, biographic and biometric information, roles, effectiveness, management styles, and influence of key UN officials, to include under secretaries, heads of specialized agencies and their chief advisers, top SYG aides, heads of peace operations and political field missions, including force commanders.
-- Details of bargaining on votes or candidacies and attempts to marginalize or undermine proposed or planned US positions or policy initiatives.
-- Biographical and biometric information on key NAM/G-77/OIC Permanent Representatives, particularly China, Cuba, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, South Africa, Sudan, Uganda, Senegal, and Syria; information on their
relationships with their capitals.
-- Foreign attitudes on UN-sanctioned arms control negotiations.
-- Efforts of foreign NGOs to undermine US policy initiatives.
-- SYG's management and decision-making style, and his influence on the Secretariat.
-- Relations between key UN officials and member states.
-- Plans and policies of UN leaders, member states, and foreign NGOs to promote human rights.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Reversing Bush policies: "Like taking cocaine from an addict"

The U.S. Agency for International Development has spent some $140 million toward Cuba pro-democracy programs since 1996.
The Obama administration is asking for another $20 million for fiscal 2011, which ends Sept. 30, 2011.
Over the past few years, USAID has gotten behind on programming and distributing funds. The agency is still working its way through fiscal 2009 funds, and says it’s too early to say how much of that money has reached Cuba. But USAID told me in a statement:
The vast majority of this money is intended for individuals on the ground in Cuba. Our objective is to maximize the amount of support that benefits Cubans on the island. Since the $15.62 million in fiscal year 2009 funds has recently been programmed, it is too early to have a precise figure at this point, but the overall goal is to have the funds directly benefit Cubans on the island.
I posted that statement on Oct. 25. Later a former State Department officer told me he believes that the USAID statement was “horseshit.”
Speaking to me on condition of anonymity, he said:
Only a tiny fraction of the money ever gets to these regime opponents. A tiny fraction of it. For them to juice up their rhetoric as if the regime-change programs were going full bore…It’s really too bad that your source said that because it’s not true.
Whoever you talked to is somebody that’s using talking points prepared by the extreme right wing that supports these regime-change programs and wants them to be as provocative toward the regime as possible.
The source said President Obama has signed off on new people-to-people programs related to Cuba, but supporters of more aggressive tactics persuaded the White House not to implement the programs quite yet.
Such programs will make it easier for people to bring money and assistance to Cubans, and not just regime opponents.
The source said he believes that some of the pro-democracy programs may not legal under USAID and State Department guidelines. USAID and State Department employees:
are not authorized to do covert actions. They’re not authorized to do classified programs in foreign countries. And they’re not authorized to do clandestine political activities, which they’ve been doing.
The source said the State Department did not sign off on and was not aware of the activities of Alan Gross, who was arrested in Cuba on Dec. 3, 2009.
They were unaware. And some of them, in a moment of honesty, say, ‘Well, that’s pretty fucking stupid.’ If you’re going to do satellite communications gear, something that provocative, then you should at least should do some basic research and the person who goes and does it should at least be a Spanish speaker.
Ending these kinds of programs is difficult, the source said.
It’s very tough because the bureaucracy loves these programs. They love the clandestinity and all of that.
Such programs endure, the source said, even when some of the pro-democracy funds are funneled to Cuban:
government-controlled agents, and it doesn’t matter because it is really fun to spend money and run programs and do clandestine operations. It’s really, really fun. And it’s really fun to have no supervision. You basically move it all out of the government so it can’t be FOIA’ed. It can’t be FOIA’ed and there’s no accountability.
The source contends that these types of pro-democracy programs are not always effective. He said:
This shit doesn’t work. It undermines the legitimacy of these people. It opens them up to – even the good ones, the sincere ones – it opens them all up to severe criticism if not arrest by the Cuban government because like in the United States to be a foreign agent is against the law. If the Cubans came and started passing around money in the United States of America, we would arrest that person. We would arrest the recipients, too, for receiving foreign money.
The moral question of whether we should support democracy isn’t on the table. Of course, we support democracy. All of this is looking at the how.
The source was referring to how such programs should be carried out. He asked:
Why are these treated as clandestine programs? Where's the oversight? What are we doing with taxpayer money? There's no accountability.
These programs have cost $160 million. Show us where it has contributed, where it has helped the Cuban people, not contractors and lobbyists. No one dares ask that question because there's no answer.
Another shortcoming of the pro-democracy programs, he said, is that once private contractors start operating pro-democracy programs, they sometimes use their political assets, their surrogates, to attack interests who work against their political goals.
For example, John Kerry put a hold on regime-change programs. Surprise, surprise, the people that are nurtured and funded by the some of the Miami-based groups, start attacking Senator Kerry.
Or Cardinal Ortega successfully negotiates the release of political prisoners. Surprise, surprise. The people who don’t want there to be an improvement in bilateral relations start attacking Cardinal Ortega through their surrogates on the island.
The source said he didn’t know how the situation will evolve, but believes that it will be difficult to reverse policies implemented during the Bush administration.
The bureaucracy has basically hijacked this policy, which then puts the political people in the position of trying to wrestle it away from them. But, boy, that’s like taking cocaine from an addict.

Activist: Washington isn't doing enough for Cuban dissidents

Mauricio Claver-Carone. Photo: Poder

Mauricio Claver-Carone, editor of the blog Capitol Hill Cubans and board member of the U.S.-Cuba Democracy PAC, said USAID programs in Cuba "are still functioning. They're doing what they're supposed to do, according to law."
But Washington doesn't appear to be carrying out the programs with the same vigor and enthusiasm as occurred during the Bush administration, he said.
I’m more concerneed about what is the message that our diplomats are getting, and basically the message that they’re sending in Havana. At the end of the day, their execution of U.S. policy has a big impact.
Claver-Carone said he respects the fact that "there is a very tenuous situation" in U.S.-Cuba relations "due to the incarceration of Alan Gross."
U.S. officials are trying to carry out pro-democracy programs while trying to free Gross, he said.
It's a fine line. There's a balancing act they need to follow. They need to be careful not to isolate and marginalize all of Cuba's dissidents. At the end of the day, they are taking these enormous risks we can't even fathom.
On Nov. 24, the Daily Caller accused the Obama administration of pursuing a policy of "aggressive niceness" toward the socialist government.
The website quoted Cuban dissident Juan Carlos González Leiva as saying he believes that officials at the U.S. Interests Section in Havana no longer welcome dissidents.
The Daily Caller - founded by journalist Tucker Carlson and Neil Patel, former chief policy adviser to Vice President Cheney - quotes González as saying:
Now there is disdain, and bad treatment. Also there is lots of reluctance, lots of disinterest — no interest in working with the dissidents now. Before, never.
I had been working very closely with the Department of Press and Culture of the Interests Section and with the office of human rights. I had a strong friendship with all of the officials who passed through. It is really inconceivable the extents of disdain and humiliation and poor treatment on the part of the officials towards the Cuban dissidents.
Claver-Carone said:
The message they are sending on the ground is that they don’t care about Cuba’s dissidents anymore and that’s music to the regime’s ears.
Officials at the Interests Section rarely give interviews to the press, and so it's difficult to get their point of view.
A source I can't identify - someone who is knowledgeable about U.S. programs in Cuba - found the Daily Caller story puzzling:
Assuming Juan Carlos was quoted correctly (and you never know…) it’s unfortunate if he has this general perception.
Officials spend a "huge amount of time and effort...supporting civil society issues," the source said.
I’m sure there are personality and stylistic differences, as there always are when there is a change in staff.
But officials have not changed their "support posture for civil society," the source said. Officials are working to broaden engagement, "particularly in the cultural arena. "
Claver-Carone said it is difficult to know just what the U.S. Interests Section does. He said:
They think no one's watching. There is no kind of accountability.
He believes Interests Section employees have a "counterproductive mentality."
They are kind of pushing their own agenda. They think everything is OK. We don’t want to push any buttons. We don’t want to upset anyone. We don’t need any more problems.
He believes U.S. diplomats ought to take a more aggressive approach. Diplomats ought to welcome dissidents to the Interests Section in Havana, so they can use the Internet. Their attitude ought to be:
Yeah, the regime doesn't like that, but that's too bad.
Instead, Claver-Carone contends, Interests Section employees have a "new mentality" and believe that if the socialist government objects, then U.S. officials ought to back off. He said they figure:
Let's not push their buttons so much.
But that is a "huge disservice" and "marginalizes dissidents," he said.
I've heard that some Cuban dissidents feel more comfortable with Eastern European diplomats. Thank God for Eastern European diplomats.
Claver-Carone said he doesn't believe USAID should use private contractors to carry out pro-democracy programs because "it's not cost effective." He added:
I don’t think they are adept in dealing with countries like Cuba. Cuba is a closed society. Cuba is not Pakistan. It's not Afghanistan. It's not Egypt.
Cuba is not semi-authoritarian. It's a closed totalitarian state. You’re being watched, particularly as a foreigner, at all time. If you don’t know how to operate in that environment, you create dangerous situation.
In cases like Cuba, there are plenty of NGOs, and folks that have done this for years that have great expertise. They know to work on the ground in Cuba without overexposing themselves. And they’re passionate about this. That’s what they do well.
Contractors at the end of the day not cost effective. They’re good people. I’m not stereotyping them. But they’re a business. They don’t look at this as a cause. They don’t look at this as a mission. They see this as development work on a global scale as opposed to work that is part of the pro-democracy movement.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Backpacks, broadband and Alan Gross




Setting up broadband is easy, according to YouTube video

Several sources have said that Alan Gross, the American who has been held in jail in Cuba since December 2009, brought satellite communication gear to the island. The sources have said he was carrying equipment that can be used to set up a Broadband Global Area Network, or BGAN for short.
BGAN is a global satellite Internet network. You can use it to establish a broadband Internet from anywhere in the world. You can also make phone calls, send e-mail messages and set up a WiFi network. And the equipment fits in a backpack.
The YouTube video, above, shows how easy it is to set up a BGAN system. I used a similar system while covering the fighting in Afhganistan after the Sept. 11 attacks and it really wasn't too complicated to operate.
BGAN equipment is relatively inexpensive. I searched on eBay and found one BGAN terminal on sale for $1,150.
The connection time can be expensive. Tempest Telecom, for instance, charges about $1 per minute for phone calls, $10 per megabyte transferred via broadband, plus a monthly fee of about $40. I think those rates are probably typical. The company also offers an unlimited usage plan. Price: $2,500 per month.
That's about 100 times the average salary in Cuba, so I presume Uncle Sam would foot the bill for any BGAN connections.

American airliner used plane that crashed in Cuba

Baracoa, Cuba, October 2010. Photo credit: Wikipedia

While working on a report about aviation safety for CubaNews, I discovered that the AeroCaribbean plane that crashed in central Cuba on Nov. 4 was once flown by Continental Express.
After the AeroCaribbean crash, some people jumped to the conclusion that an old Russian airliner must have gone down. In fact, it was a 15-year-old French-Italian ATR 72 turboprop that Continental Express used in the 1990s, according to registration records at Planespotters.
Continental Express has since gotten rid of its ATR 72s, but American Eagle and Federal Express still have large fleets of the planes - and many of them are as old or older than those that AeroCaribbean flies, Planespotters records show.
For more about the AeroCaribbean plane and expert opinion on aviation safety in Cuba, see the December issue of CubaNews (subscrption only), edited by Larry Luxner.

Below are photos of AeroCaribbean's ATR 72 plane in earlier incarnations.

Philadelphia, November 1997

Tenerife Norte-Los Rodeos, Spain, February 2003

Tenerife Norte-Los Rodeos, Spain, April 2005

Airliners.net also has photos of the Aero Caribbean plane that crashed. Click Here to view a thumbnail, or here for large image.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

John McAuliff: Cuban reaction shouldn't be a surprise

John McAuliff, whose columns about Cuba appear in the Havana Note, the Huffington Post and other websites, said he wonders what USAID has learned from the Dec. 3, 2009, detention of Alan Gross.
McAuliff said he was struck by something USAID told me in an Oct. 25 Q&A.
USAID said:
We acknowledge that there are varying views within Cuba and around the world regarding efforts to reach the Cuban people, and we certainly respect these differing views and take them into account. Clearly, no one is required to accept or take part in any USG programs if they don’t want to. There are many groups and individuals inside and outside Cuba who believe the funds are useful in supporting their ability to carry out their activities and promote fundamental freedoms -- freedoms, it should be noted, that are engendered in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and democratic norms throughout the world. Experience in Cuba and in other closed-societies shows that such programs play a positive role in empowering those who work towards positive change and the promotion of fundamental freedoms.
McAuliff said:
I keep coming back to the concluding paragraph of your USAID interview. In other words, same old American self righteousness. No regrets for sending Alan Gross. No willingness to stop sending other Alans. What else do they expect the Cubans to do? What would we do in their situation?
Thank you to everyone who has sent me your opinion about USAID in Cuba. I welcome all points of view.

Scholar: USAID programs put Cubans at risk

Arturo Lopez Levy. Photo: London Metropolitan University

Arturo Lopez-Levy, a lecturer at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver, has written extensively about USAID programs and the detention of Alan Gross.
In a message to me, he wrote:
A central problem of USAID programs toward Cuba is that they do not demand the informed consent of the leaders the civil society organizations USAID tries to reach. When leaders of the Cuban religious communities declare they don't want any involvement whatsoever with any regime change program and condemn the Helms-Burton law, they mean what they say. But USAID doesn't take No for an answer and childishly try to circumvent the will of the leaders of the religious groups by offering contact and support to other members of the groups without even informing them of their link with Section 109 of Helms-Burton law. This put Cubans on the risk of being arrested without being aware of their collaboration with a USAID program or even in peril of being accused under law 88. Promoting Cuban civil society must begin by recognizing its autonomy and respecting it. If the leaders of the religious groups say No to these programs, the USAID officials should report to Congress that because the Helms-Burton legislation, it is not possible to run international development programs that otherwise would be perfectly possible.
For more of Lopez-Levy's perspective, see the story he wrote about Gross' detention in the Jewish Daily Forward. A longer version of the story appeared in the Washington Note.

In Encuentro en la Red, Lopez-Levy compared the programs of USAID in Vietnam and how Helms-Burton is making it impossible to develop similar programs in Cuba.