Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Leaflets in which the Commander in Chief Fidel Castro, with suitcases and gold in his hands, escaped from Cuba in a sinking ship, were prepared and printed in 1962 by specialists in psychological warfare of the United States Army. Although they were not used in the end, because other experts considered them counterproductive at the time, they were part of the arsenal of propaganda resources planned to support the military invasion that the government of the North American nation included in the response options during the so-called Missile Crisis.
A few hours after the recent riots, which were undoubtedly orchestrated from abroad, a Twitter “user” posted that Raul Castro had fled to Venezuela, and the note went “viral”. It did not matter that the photo of the tweet was taken in 2015, when the then-Cuban President arrived in San José, Costa Rica, to attend a Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States.
Its purpose was to contribute to fix the opinion matrix around a chaos originated by a “legitimate national uprising” against the Cuban government, due to the mismanagement of the pandemic and the lack of medicines, food and electricity.
If the media attack under which Cuba is living these days is unprecedented in its scope, due to the technological potential of the adversaries and their growing concerted actions from various geographical points, it is not strange either, because the country has always been in the trenches of a psychological war.
The example of the drawings that had Fidel as a target of disinformation appears in the book De la octavilla a la sicotecnología, by Emiliano Lima Mesa and Mercedes Cardoso, scholars of the psychological warfare procedures used by the United States in the preparation and development of armed conflicts.
Both researchers say that Cuba has suffered the largest and most prolonged psychological warfare ever carried out by the United States against any country. “It has involved both psychological and propaganda actions and has manifested itself in the economic blockade, support for mercenary gangs, biological warfare, military aggressions, sabotage and assassination attempts on the main leaders, to cite just a few examples,” they write.
In making specifics on the propagandistic level, they state that it has manifested itself in newspapers, books, posters, flyers, rumors and radio and television broadcasts to spread lies and slander against the Revolution.
The referenced book is indispensable to learn the details of the persistent and sinister behavior of the U.S. intelligence apparatus, whose purpose is subverting the social order in our country. Perhaps, in a new edition, in the chapter Against Cuba, the media misdeeds of the social networks in the Internet era should be included. The work was published in 2003 and, since then, the adversarial struggle against the Cuban Revolution has had the Internet as one of its main scenarios.
It is fair to recall that, in this same newspaper, colleague Raúl Antonio Capote wrote that as of 2007, the CIA considered it a matter of prime importance to guarantee access to the Internet in Cuba. The nefarious agency’s idea was to use the illegal networks created on the island at that time, for which they evaluated the possibility of connecting them to digital television, which would be the possible means of access to the network of networks.
The promoters of the program, Capote pointed out, ordered to put in Cuban territory ten BGAN (Broadband Global Area Network) equipments. “One was given to a CIA agent in Havana to send daily, in a secure way, information on the capacity of MININT and Mincom to detect illegal satellite TV connection antennas. They also required information on movements of FAR troops in certain regions of the country, and characterization of leaders and cadres of the Revolution”.
In the route that led to the riots of last July 11, there are many other traces of U.S. intelligence agencies and entities created by them to act against Cuba. Thus, among the most recent are the events of San Isidro and the concentration of young people in front of the Ministry of Culture headquarters in Havana.
Both cases were portrayed as an internal issue, due, among other things, to new currents of thought and dissatisfaction of young intellectuals and artists unable to give free rein to their creative spirit. But when analyzing the causes, if the nonconformity to certain regulations and the superficiality with which some officials act is real, it is impossible to ignore that in the period 2008-2012 the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) sponsored the non-governmental organization (NGO) Creative Associates, which set out to recruit young people belonging to what is identified as Cuban counterculture.
In January 2012, in one of the reports justifying the expenditures, the NGO cited several achievements of its work, including a network of more than 30 independent leaders in all Cuban provinces and the solid establishment of youth and countercultural groups.
Faced with the failure of the immediate objectives they intended with the recent unrest, USAID has responded with a call for more subversion projects in Cuba. The new sum amounts to $2 million dollars, and is being offered for democracy promotion activities. After all, for identical purposes, the agency, along with the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), was a channeling mechanism for much of the $250 million that in the last two decades the U.S. government devoted to undermining socialism in Cuba.
By the way, Samantha Power, the new director of the US Agency for International Development (USAID), is a character to keep an eye on. A former U.S. ambassador in the Obama administration and an expert in diplomacy and climate change issues, she has also stood out for promoting her country’s active intervention in other nations for supposedly humanitarian reasons.
That position is confirmed in an article published by The New York Times, on April 15 of this year, when Lara Jakes exposed details of Samantha Power’s confirmation hearing in the Senate. On that occasion, writes the author, Rand Paul, a Republican senator from Kentucky, asked the official, “Are you willing to admit that the interventions in Libya and Syria that you advocated were a mistake?”
“Power did not,” the journalist said, transcribing her words: “When these situations arise, it’s almost a question of lesser evils; the options are very difficult”.
Could the requests for humanitarian intervention for Cuba made by the same promoters of the vandalism riots be the result of coincidence; the same ones who, in desperation, want to make people believe that chaos reigns in the country?
By Fabián Escalante. Division General (retd), former head of Cuban intelligence services. Author of several books on the intelligence services of the US against Cuba and has investigated the assassination of John F. Kennedy from the Cuban viewpoint.
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Undoubtedly, the social explosion that took place in our country on July 11 of this year surprised us all, and not for lack of evidence and indications. The social networks, in an Olympic marathon, spread to the four winds slogans, orientations, false news, doctored photos, etc., aimed at manipulating, confusing and deceiving national and international public opinion on the Cuban socio-political situation.
The objective was clear, to take advantage of the dramatic circumstances of hardships and needs produced by the asphyxia of the multilateral blockade decreed by the United States. To this was added circumstantial events, such as the exponential increase of the COVID-19 pandemic and the breakage of the main electricity factory (Guiteras, in Matanzas), which not only affected energy but also the water supply.
To this should be added the difficulties in the supply of food and medicines with the usual long queues, a “mafia” of “black market” born as a result of this, and the mistakes made in the late implementation of economic measures approved some years ago, including food production.
The subversive operation of coup-like magnitude, at least for what is publicly known, was not discovered and unmasked, nor -at least- was the population warned by all available means. A solitary and excellent documentary, The Dictatorship of the Algorithm, shown on Cuban TV, was the most outstanding alert of these weeks. It, however, since it was not conceived as a well-organized media campaign aimed at exploiting the information provided, did not achieve the psychological and political effects and influence on the social consciousness that was necessary and should have been projected, given the imminence of the aggression underway.
The Cuba -and the world- of today is different from that of yesterday, and even more different from that of the first years of the Revolution. These reasons that make it impossible to use the same methods of analysis or crisis management used before. There is a young, depoliticized sector of the population (due to our inefficient political and patriotic work) that does not understand the need to resist imperial policies and who wish to improve their living conditions and do not find an immediate solution to their expectations.
Days have passed since the events described above and, as it happens, many interpretations are coming to light, while the media campaigns in the United States and its allies continue to accuse Cuba of human rights violations and other atrocities, with the open intention of creating the conditions for a U.S. military intervention.
We, revolutionaries, have to meditate and draw lessons from what has happened. The United States and its fascist government is mainly responsible, but -and this is important-, we also have responsibilities for the errors committed. They demand a self-critical analysis, not only marginal references. It is necessary to deepen in the why of them, what were their causes and how we are going to solve them. That is what Fidel taught us and warned us in November 2005 when he stated in a speech at the University of Havana that only the Revolution could destroy itself.
The call to revolutionaries and communists has to be to go on the offensive, to the front line: fight against counterrevolutionary elements from within and without, fight against corruption, bureaucracy, idleness: fight against what is badly done, fight against disappointment and mistrust, against the lack or absence of administrative and political control, fight against “hollow, formal” orientations, in two words, generate ideas, defend concepts and conquests.
To fight against the enemy and bureaucracy would be the duty and responsibility of this historical moment. To use the political, social and mass organizations, supported by the duties and rights provided by our socialist Constitution, not to shy away from direct confrontation and not to be afraid to face conflicts, because as Fidel indicated on many occasions: the best way to defend oneself is to take the offensive.
The combat and confrontation of ideas is taking place today at the base of society, in the block, in the neighborhood, in the community. It is there where the Party and the social and mass organizations must and have to do battle, not to oppress, but to convince, to explain and, if necessary, to transfer to the leadership of the party and the government, the difficulties, misunderstandings and shortcomings.
Passivity makes us accomplices of the errors and negative tendencies that Fidel had already warned in his time.
The enemy campaigns carried out by social networks, by mercenaries of Cuban origin living in Florida, as well as by the media operations of the traditional bourgeois media, must be confronted without hesitation. It is necessary to denounce them, to alert our population, to disarticulate them from within, taking advantage of the enemy’s need to publicize their slogans, orientations and contact their internal promoters. Their activities can be prevented and neutralized, without unnecessary mobilizations, which could wear down and exhaust our forces in the perspective of a long struggle.
External solidarity, as has been called for, must be strengthened to its maximum expression, both in Miami and other North American cities where honest Cubans live, as well as in other cities of the world, where the Cuban attitude of solidarity is well known.
Once again, Fidel summons us to the battle of ideas, which consists in debate and not in imposition, in conviction, in listening and understanding arguments, and accepting those that are fair, because this does not imply concessions of principles, on the contrary, in any case, it reinforces our concept of Revolution, that which Fidel bequeathed to us.
“Trenches of ideas are worth more than trenches of stones”.
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Some concepts are fundamental to understanding the new socio-political context we are living in and that we will most probably continue to see in the times to come. We talk a lot these days about cultural, communicational and media warfare. But what do these terms really mean?
THE CONTROL OF WILLS AND HEARTS
The concept of cultural war points to a very broad and complex phenomenon that is not limited to Cuban society. It is the global strategy of the centers of capitalist power aimed at the production of alienated subjectivities, functional to the logic of capital.
People are induced to embrace a way of thinking and feeling based on the cult of individualism, meritocracy, competition, consumption as a measure of status and welfare, the search for individual solutions to systemic crises, uncritical attitudes towards capitalism, indifference to the precarious situation of most of the world’s population and the deterioration of nature.
This way of perceiving the world and one’s place in it is presented as obvious, or natural and inevitable. Any opinion that does not fit in or that questions this perspective will be rejected, not because it will be criticized, but because it will be inconceivable.
I will share a testimony. In a foreign university where I was teaching, I conducted an exercise in a social psychology course. I asked the students, between 19 and 25 years old, to bring me information on any topic that caught their attention in the cultural and social life of the country. They could choose topics related to art, science, politics, sports, environment, among others. My surprise was that they all brought commercials about certain products: Coca-Cola, Levi’s Jeans, Lancôme, etc. The discussion revolved around which advertisements they found most interesting and best done.
The reduction of people’s world of interests to the realm of advertising and consumption, at a stage of life which, in theory, should be characterized precisely by the fullest development of the conception of the world, in a society, moreover, of great cultural richness and a very complex social fabric,. This occurs in the midst of a process of formation in the field of social sciences, indicating how the mechanisms of cultural domination can be effective in controlling the spectrum of human desires and motivations. Attitudes towards life are depoliticized and subjectivities are accommodated to the dynamics of the market, while countless fundamental questions remain outside of what the individual is even capable of seeing.
Baudrillard will point out what is even worse: the person lives the illusion of being free because they choose what to consume, when that choice is totally pre-designed, communicatively produced and destined to fulfill a very specific function within the system of capitalist production and accumulation.
The ultimate aim of the culture war is to induce the idea that there is no better alternative to capitalism as we know it. In this sense, various agents of socialization on a global and local scale play a key role, such as educational institutions, the cultural and entertainment industry, certain churches (we cannot generalize), for example, and all those social actors that fulfill the function of socializing values.
Within the culture war, communication is fundamental, and although it is not reduced to the media, because communication occurs through various channels, such as face-to-face communication. For example, media devices play a key role, which in recent times has gained prominence given the weight acquired by digital media and social networks. That is why we are talking about a war that is also communicational and that also has a media dimension.
Digital algorithms to keep people’s minds “connected” all the time in virtual platforms crowded with advertising and busy seeing how and what to buy, are brutally effective. For Naomi Klein today, people even advertise themselves, as if they were a brand, coupling and reducing themselves to the logic of the market, the function and content of many links.
More important than experiencing, meeting, knowing and sharing, is to exhibit oneself in the “market” of human relationships, reducing these to transactions of likes mediated by electronic devices, without questioning anything else that happens around, making the meaning of life revolve around these marketing dynamics of the self.
We have to understand that this communications system, which works as an alternative pedagogical path, to the extent that it forms certain motivations and values without being a school. It is one which responds to the interests of the market and not to the project of society we want to build. It will become increasingly present among the younger generations in Cuba, to the same extent that they have greater connectivity to the Internet. This is a problem that must be assumed and solved creatively.
LET’S TAKE A CLOSER LOOK AT THE OPINION MATRIXES
However, the communications war may have more specific objectives than the naturalization of the cult of capitalism. It is also used to attack political systems that oppose the interests of the centers of capitalist power. In this case, matrices are fabricated to influence public opinion in one direction or another, to intervene in the course of certain political processes in a manner convenient to the interests of the United States or other powers, to overthrow governments, to deploy soft coups… Both forms of expression of the culture war complement each other, since the more alienated people are, the easier it is to manipulate states of opinion on specific political issues.
An opinion matrix is a partial representation of reality with an ideological imprint that responds to the interests of a certain power group and is manufactured with the intention of producing or maintaining hegemony and dominating public opinion on an issue. Opinion matrices try to create subjective conditions favorable to intervene or manage political processes. They are managed by taking into account the characteristics of the target audiences.
Let us look at an example. The opinion matrix that most strongly bombards the national media scenario is aimed at inducing hopelessness and resentment towards the Revolution and socialism. It cannot be understood without the existence of the blockade, they are a strategic pair. The blockade generates the objective conditions of shortages and frustrations which are then amplified through the discourse of hatred and boredom around the political system, in its dissimilar tonalities. The blockade produces the objective floor on which the matrices of opinion against the system are settled. This is not to say that the problems we face do not also have endogenous causes, which produce discontent that can be capitalized on.
What do the fundamental matrices of opinion that operate in our reality say? Cuban socialism failed, the government’s management and institutionality are overwhelmed (there is a crisis of governability) and the Cuban state has collapsed: there must be intervention in Cuba. These opinion matrixes try to create the ideal subjective conditions for a regime change.
In media content of various kinds from media with a counterrevolutionary agenda. The economic crisis Cuba is going through and its social impact is analyzed, the legacy of underdevelopment from before January 1959, the existence of the blockade, as well as the achievements made, are ignored. The endogenous causes of the problems are hyperbolized. Cuban society is uncritically and ahistorically equated with other societies. This is done in order to import liberal and/or anti-state narratives and forms of struggle. The category of class struggle is eliminated as a fundamental north to think about the future of the nation. At the same time the routes of analysis and proposals for solutions to the problems we are experiencing are de-ideologized.
A CHANGE OF EPOCH
The victory in this new scenario will be, in the first instance, to understand that the time is different and the mechanisms of domination we are facing are not the same. The virtual world has its own dynamics and laws of operation. It is not a matter of bringing the same narratives now to a virtual scenario. It is about completely transforming the methods of work, the forms of resistance and struggle.
In spite of considering that we must assume and defeat the communicational war that is being waged against us, our country has a strength in that sense that is not in the virtual territory. Although it may seem paradoxical: we can revitalize our organizations and institutions to transform the devices for participation and political debate at the grassroots. We need to promote effective spaces for meaningful dialogue about our reality, for coexistence in the midst of the life circumstances we are going through, for collaboration and for the collective search for solutions to the difficulties that arise.
Politicizing the analysis of Cuba’s future will make a difference: the greater the politicization, the lesser the manipulation of subjectivities through the devices used in this cultural war.
Articulate an educational-communicational strategy on a large scale, in extension and depth, to promote our perspectives and the right to build, in conditions of peace, our own, collective and sovereign path towards more prosperity, democracy and social justice.
The inventors of the narrative of popular indignation now want to build another one about a supposed spontaneous insurrection against the government, which justifies the defeat and propitiates foreign intervention in the island.
Author: Raúl Antonio Capote | firstname.lastname@example.org
July 24, 2021 00:07:34 AM
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
In February 2018, following indications from then U.S. President Donald Trump, the Internet Task Force for Subversion in Cuba was created, subordinated to the CIA.
It was a new step, considered essential, to dominate Cuban cyberspace and move to a higher stage in the strategy of subversion against the Cuban Revolution.
The propaganda crusade organized by the Task Force has been characterized by a coordinated use of all the instruments at its disposal to achieve, as a central objective, the demonization of the adversary and to justify its total destruction, as they have done in so many places in the world.
As part of the White House plan, which contemplated moving on to more severe actions against Cuba, after the “failure”, proclaimed by the ultra-right, of the policy followed by Barack Obama, the Trump administration applied more than 243 measures to “close” the blockade and suffocate the island.
It was a real shock therapy aimed at discouraging any resistance and breaking people’s faith in the future.
An important part of the plan was to start “heating up the streets”, as Gene Sharp’s manual indicates with absolute precision, with actions such as those that took place in the San Isidro neighborhood or the provocations in front of the Ministry of Culture and other institutions.
COVID-19 was a “marvelous opportunity” for the enemies of the Cuban people. Of course, they could not fail to take advantage of the pandemic and the suffering it could cause.
According to the calculations of the authors and sponsors, everything was ready: with the millions destined for subversion they paid mercenaries, cyber-sicarii and criminals, repeating the script of Iran and Bolivia in 2019.
During the last days of June, already under the administration of President Joe Biden – let’s remember that the policy of that country towards Cuba is only one -, the campaign of fear and demonization was strongly increased in the networks, the Internet Task Force synchronized the entire arsenal of media, sites and digital hitmen created or bought.
It was not, as they would have us believe, a Facebook group -a space created, as there are thousands on the island, where people share, meet friends, etc.- that promoted the events of July 11 in San Antonio de los Baños.
It was an action well-planned from the outside, with high technology, promoted by hundreds of fake accounts, bots and trolls, as has been denounced in recent days by our media. They acted taking advantage of the discontent caused by blackouts, shortages and fear of the increase of COVID-19 cases.
The defeat unleashed the hysteria of the promoters of the “protests”, the managers and ideologues. The mud machine kept going, like a puppet without strings, thrashing back and forth, howling death like a wounded beast.
The inventors of the narrative of popular indignation now want to build another one about a supposed spontaneous insurrection against the Government, justifying the defeat and propitiating foreign intervention in the Island.