By Manuel E. Yepe
Exclusive for the daily POR ESTO! of Merida, Mexico.
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann.
There has been an intense and extensive media campaign that involved a group of U.S. officials accredited as diplomats at the U.S. Embassy in Havana with strange acoustic attacks. Their origin and actors could not be identified, and then Washington decided to reduce the staff of its representation in Cuba. This had a big impact on consular, political and tourist relations between the two countries.
Washington’s rhetorical indictment didn’t identify presumed culprits or evidence of the supposed crimes, nor the sources for the speculative comments that were always anonymous. This peculiarity later served to justify the fact that the main victims could not be met with, given that they were agents of the U.S. intelligence services, and therefore unable by the nature of their functions, to contribute to the inquiries with testimonies related to their secret work at the Embassy.
The Cuban authorities, from the beginning, took on themselves the task of clarifying the facts. Cuba contributed to the U.S. investigative work. This included including supporting the work in Cuba of an ad hoc FBI delegation that traveled especially for that purpose. Then the U.S. government decided to drastically reduce the personnel in its mission in Havana. That aroused distrust with respect to the cooperation offered by the Cuban side.
Faced with the evident impossibility of discovering the origin and identifying the culprits, the idea that it could have been yet another malicious action against Cuba by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) gained discreet strength.
But recently, coinciding with the entry into the arena of the ultra-reactionary and shadowy diplomat and politician John Bolton, as Trump’s National Security Advisor, with the prediction that he will soon become the power behind the throne in the White House, the press began to resurrect the issue of sonic attacks, increasing the number and scope of journalistic work on the subject.
A striking report by Jon Lee Anderson in The New Yorker served as a prelude to the resumption of the “acoustic attacks” campaign.
Almost simultaneously, Ottawa’s Globe and Mail reported that Canadian diplomats whose families, by a decision of their government, had to leave the embassy in Havana because of alleged sonic events they were publicly protesting, claiming that Global Affairs, Canada’s foreign ministry, had turned its back on them.
Canadian diplomats complained that, unlike the U.S. State Department, Global Affairs had said very little about the matter in public. It also did not seem to be making their case a priority without which it was difficult for them to get specialized medical attention.
“We didn’t expect to be abandoned, or more precisely, sacrificed. That’s how we feel now,” a spokesperson for the group told the Globe and Mail. Several of those affected believe that Ottawa has said little in public because it wants to maintain friendly relations with Cuba, the newspaper wrote.
Adam Austen, speaking Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, barely said that “we will continue to do everything we can to provide advice and support to those affected,” provoking opinions such as, “Canadian diplomats affected by the unidentified disease in Cuba feel abandoned. They feel that the Canadian government is covering something up, or is indifferent to a problem that someone in Washington is interested in magnifying.
Headlines such as “Canadian diplomats affected by strange ailments in Cuba feel abandoned” proliferated in those countries where information is decisively influenced by U.S. consortia.
It should be noted that investigations have been hindered from the outset by mysterious circumstances. First, because the U.S. side did not allow accredited experts of any nationality clinical access to those affected, nor to U.S. military doctors who could see them within a period of time close to the events, arguing that the patients were personnel working in intelligence tasks, thus obliged to respect strict rules of secrecy by the nature of their tasks.
I still think that the search for an intellectual author of the attacks between enemy persons or governments of the United States ignores the possibility that it may have been authorities of the American intelligence community. They may have been trying out some clandestine program or secret weapon, which for some reason fell into the hands of opportunists such as Senator Rubio with the unscrupulous help provided by Bolton.
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews
CNN journalist Jim Acosta is in the news because he had an incident with U.S. President Donald Trump during a press conference at the White House. Acosta first asked about President Donald Trump’s description of the caravan of Central American immigrants seeking to enter the United States as an “invasion”. Acosta accused Trump of demonizing them and in the exchange, a White House intern tried to remove the microphone but that time Acosta resisted and asked a second question about “the Russian investigation.”
As a result, Jim Acosta was expelled from the press conference and his White House credential was withdrawn. This has generated thousands of news dispatches. What none of those reports has remembered is that, when Jim Acosta was in Havana, “embedded” in the delegation headed by then-U.S. President Barack Obama who visited the island, he had another tense dialogue. That one was with Cuban leader Raul Castro, but no one tried to take his microphone or put him out of the room:
Jim Acosta: “Why do you have Cuban political prisoners and why don’t you release them?”
Raul Castro: “Give me the list of political prisoners now to release them. Or give me a list of names if there are political prisoners. And if there are those political prisoners, before nightfall they are going to be released.
Needless to say, Acosta did not turn in any lists, but no one expelled him from Cuba because of it.
CNN’s concern, and that of the American press in general, for political prisoners and liberties, and also its hostility toward Donald Trump, is a little selective. During his visit to Israel, which coincided with the numerous and harassed demonstrations by Palestinians in support of their prisoners in Israeli jails, nothing was asked of the Israeli President or said in those media about political prisoners in Israel.
As for the “invasion” of Central American emigrants, mainly Hondurans, neither Acosta nor CNN, nor any U.S. media has alluded to the responsibility of the United States for the state of poverty, social crisis and violence faced by the countries of the so-called Northern Triangle (Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras), who have been devastated by decades of dirty war and neoliberalism encouraged by Washington.
Particularly in the case of Honduras, when it began a path to address social needs, integrating into the education and health programs of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) was impacted in 2009 by the military coup that began the U.S. counteroffensive in Latin America aiming to re-establish its hegemony in the region. That was led by Barack Obama’s White House, who by the way has been the U.S. president who has deported more immigrants than any other in history.
In Honduras, 15 journalists were murdered after that coup supported by the United States.There is even a video in which the murder of an informant is ordered, after the uncomfortable question to a powerful businessman linked to the coup plotters (see 10:25 minutes of the documentary The Deadliest Place in the World for a Journalist: which has been on the Internet since October 2011), but neither Democrats nor Republicans demonstrated on the matter, much less CNN nor any US corporate media. https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=633&v=dvg1JcvC3KM
One thing that Trump, Jim Acosta, Barack Obama, CNN and all the “free press” agree on is that the United States, unlike Cuba, is a country with democracy and freedom of expression, but more and more common things happen there in the countries classified as “banana republics,” a term coined in his volume of stories Cabbages and Kings by the American writer O. Henry to refer to Honduras, something that is the result of repeated military interventions and economic looting, along with the export of violence, armed gangs and corruption, as well as the export of violence, armed gangs and corruption.
But what is happening in Trump’s United States, with scandals over the president’s relations with prostitutes, dismissals of officials for spurious motives, and even brothel owners who win elections even after death, surpasses novels like The Autumn of the Patriarch or the Resource of the Method. Of course, these are conclusions too deep to be told by Jim Acosta or CNN, and, if they were to be addressed, it would be to say that it is the exceptional result of the management of an irresponsible madman, never of a system where he sends the money and thanks to which a tycoon who runs a country as if it were his company was able to become President.
By Manuel E. Yepe
Exclusive for the daily POR ESTO! of Merida, Mexico.
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann.
The Cuban community residing in South Florida, in the United States, mainly in Miami Dade County, is returning to the state of great anxiety and fear. These are traditionally imposed by the Cuban-American extreme right and its sponsors from the American terrorist extreme right.
Numerous and widely-publicized visits by special agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation have been made to the homes and workplaces of Cuban émigrés in Miami. Those visited have been, for many years, activists for the improvement of relations between the peoples and governments of the United States and Cuba. Now they have reason to be alarmed.
The local media and even the U.S. national media speculate about the reasons for this intimidating campaign by the federal government’s main counterintelligence agency. On September 12, the FBI published an article in the Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald, stating that the reason for such warning visits was “to send to the Cuban government the message that the FBI is looking for and watching Cuban spies who might be infiltrating the United States.
Andrés Gómez, director of the Areitodigital website, based in Miami, has written that this FBI campaign is for political reasons. “In the first place, it’s because a decisive mid-tern election is about to be held on November 6. Control of both houses of Congress is at stake, as well as the future of the Trump Administration and the Cuban-American extreme right in Washington.
In Gómez’s opinion, “since the Cuban-American extreme right was unable to obtain the changes in U.S. policy towards Cuba that they wanted, the FBI could be giving them these FBI visits in order to partially satisfy them in today’s political environment. In this way, the fantasy of Cuban spies under every pebble and on every grain of sand of our long and famous beaches is once again being imposed on the social and political environment of our community.”
The director of Areitodigital believes that it could also be to warning against the electoral triumph in the mid-term elections on November 6 of candidates more in tune with the new policy toward Cuba laid out in Miami by President Barack Obama in December 2014.
But, according to Gómez, “we are no longer in Florida then, with a demonized Cuba as an evil and perverse enemy. To the horror of the Cuban-American extreme-right in Miami and its political and ideological allies in the rest of the country, and to the resentment of some FBI special agents who are visiting innocent citizens who maintain irreproachable social behavior-even though they defend their right to travel to their native country, and condemn the blockade against Cuba and everything that impedes the development of the Island and the possibilities of the Cuban people to advance and live in peace.”
In the national political environment, and in Florida in particular, there is a close electoral contest for governor between the progressive African American Democrat Andrew Gillum and the racist and reactionary Republican Ron DeSantis. It is feared that African American voters and progressives who do not normally participate in elections will be motivated to go to the polls to give electoral triumph to the most liberal and progressive candidates. That’s what might be motivating the FBI’s current intimidation campaign, notes Andres Gomez.
The official statement issued by the FBI says that “in the course of performing our duties, the FBI -on a regular and open basis- interacts with members of our communities to enhance the mutual trust necessary to combat potential criminal activities and possible threats to our population.
With respect to that, Gómez says “the FBI leadership should appeal to the mutual trust necessary to combat criminal activities, such as the immediate arrest and judicial prosecution of all terrorists of Cuban origin who live freely and with impunity in Miami under the protection of the FBI itself. They have attempted and killed many innocent people over many years, in a campaign of state terrorism sponsored by successive U.S. governments. They targeted the Cuban people and those of us who live in the United States and whom we have supported a more reasonable policy between both peoples and governments, such as the one initiated by President Barack Obama.”
It would have been good for Gomez to point out that the objective of all fifteen presidents of the United States since the triumph of the Cuban revolution, including Obama, has been to liquidate the example of effective independence and socialism that is Cuba. Of them all, Trump’s government is the one that contributes the least to those perverse imperialist ends, because he exposes it so brazenly.
September 10, 2018
Cuban journalist. First Vice-President of UPEC and Vice-President of FELAP. She is a Doctor in Communication Sciences and author or co-author of the books “Antes de que se me olvide“, “Jineteros en La Habana”, “Clic Internet” and “Chávez Nuestro”, among others. He has been awarded the “Juan Gualberto Gómez” National Journalism Prize on several occasions. Founder of Cubadebate and its Editor-in-Chief until January 2017. On twitter: @elizalderosa
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
The new digital platforms favor the emergence of groups of individuals organized like a claque, ready to unconditionally applaud the one who pays. Anyone who isn’t in a blockaded country like Cuba can create content, invest in it for specific groups to see and even rent or buy virtual applause to generate “likes” on Facebook or “followers” on Twitter.
This is the business model of these technology platforms, thanks to which, for example, in the first quarter of 2018 Facebook had a turnover of $11.79 billion, almost four billion more (49 percent) than a year ago. Of that total, about 98.5 percent comes from advertising.
Such a thing happens every day and it is difficult to generate a perception of popularity on networks without hundreds of thousands of followers. These are usually achieved by registering artificial identities that promote messages of support, and the favor is not free. There are hundreds of companies that offer this service without any complexes. Simply enter “buy followers” in any search engine to find them. And it is not expensive: the price of a thousand followers is between 15 and 20 dollars. Getting ten thousand more people to follow us costs less than $120.
“Troll farms” – editors responsible for spreading false information on the Internet – have been used by politicians, entertainment stars, American spies, Donald Trump’s campaign team, Macri’s campaign team, the British military, Israeli propaganda organizations and many others who have made these huge profits from the platform founded by Mark Zuckerberg possible and placed it among the ten largest companies in the world, according to its value on the stock exchange.
The numbers are impressive and not just for the profits: a study published in March 2017 by the universities of South Carolina and Indiana estimated that, within Twitter, the proportion of “troll farms” that use automated applications to replicate messages (known as bots) was between 9 percent and 15 percent of their total users. The number of automatically-controlled fake profiles is between 30 million and 48 million.
Not out of moral compulsion, but to tune in to Washington’s anti-Russian and anti-Iranian discourse, Facebook has been willing to shut down some “troll farms” and escape, even momentarily, from the wave of criticism that has fallen on it for buying and selling data without the consent of its more than 2.4 billion users. This is how hits decided to eliminate hundreds of accounts with “inauthentic behavior” on Tuesday, according to a press release
We eliminated 652 pages, groups and accounts for coordinated “non-authentic behavior” that originated in Iran and were targeted to people across multiple Internet services in the Middle East, Latin America, the United Kingdom and the United States.
But while Facebook eliminates foreign-generated fake accounts, allegedly of Russian or Iranian origin, it tolerates the U.S. government’s “troll farms” without any crisis of conscience. Before any of us had heard of this machinery of fake accounts, fake news and Cambridge Analytica – the London-based company that intervened in more than 200 elections by manipulating the users of Facebook – the Pentagon was already publicly boasting that it was using the blue thumb network as propaganda bait for its operations.
Defense One magazine reported in November 2016 that Michael Lumpkin, former director of the Global Engagement Center (GEC, Pentagon propaganda department), described how the Center used Facebook data to maximize the effectiveness of its operations:
“Using Facebook ads I can get an audience, choose Country X, a specific age group between 13 and 34, filter people who like Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi or any other group… and I can shoot and hit them directly with messages,” Lumpkin said. He stressed that with the right data, effective message targeting can be done with only pennies per click.
Yesterday, the Miami New Times, a weekly newspaper in Florida, released a document proving that a US government-funded broadcasting organization is creating fake Facebook accounts in disinformation operations. These are directed against a country, Cuba, that has not done the slightest damage to the United States and that cannot access the Facebook ad manager because of the US blockade laws.
The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) will spend more than $23 million in fiscal year 2019 on its Office of Broadcasting to Cuba (OCB), which controls Radio and TV Martí, and its projects include no less than a troll farm.
According to the budget requested of Congress for 2019, OCB will use the money in fake Facebook accounts of the kind that it perfectly classifies as “non-authentic behavior” to promote regime change on the island.
Considering the disaster of inefficiency, waste and corruption that has accompanied Radio Martí and TV Martí in 33 years of existence at a cost of more than $800 million at the expense of the US taxpayer, the former head of the US Interests Office in Havana, Vicki Huddleston, echoed on Twitter the news of the digital propaganda project against the island, to which she added a phrase of contempt: “Same-old-same-old!!”.).
Will Facebook close the US government’s “non-authentic behavior” accounts, starting with those of Radio and TV Martí? To be or not to be, that’s the question, right, Zuckerberg?
(Taken from Cubaperiodistas)
August 22, 2018.
By Rosa Miriam Elizalde
Cuban journalist. First Vice-President of UPEC and Vice-President of FELAP. She is a Doctor in Communication Sciences and author or co-author of the books “Antes de que se me olvide”, “Jineteros en La Habana”, “Clic Internet” and “Chávez Nuestro”, among others. He has been awarded the “Juan Gualberto Gómez” National Journalism Prize on several occasions. Founder of Cubadebate and its Editor-in-Chief until January 2017. On twitter: @elizalderosa
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
While the United States is making a scandal about the supposed Russian intervention in social networks to influence the 2016 elections won by Donald Trump, today evidence has been uncovered that the U.S. government is using Facebook to spread fake news about Cuba and clandestinely foment dissidence on the island.
The Florida weekly Miami New Times revealed Wednesday that it has had access to documents from the government’s Office of Broadcasting to Cuba (OCB), run by Radio and TV Martí. It reveals that the Trump administration has been using Facebook accounts for two years that appear “native” (from real people on the island) to spread propaganda without informing Cuban Facebook users that it is government advertising.
According to the report obtained by the weekly, due to the failure of Radio and TV Martí,
the OCB’s strategy has focused on an offensive through social networks, based on metrics that place YouTube, Google and Facebook among the most visited sites in Cuba. With the use of AVRA (Audio and Video for Radio) technology, Radio Martí’s programs began to be broadcast through Facebook Live along with TV Marti’s programming. This provides OCB with additional efficient and cost-effective distribution output for both its radio (now visual radio) and TV content.
In fiscal year 2018, OCB has been establishing itself with digital island equipment (read “dissidents” paid for by the US) that creates native and “unbranded” Facebook accounts to disseminate information. Native” pages increase the chances of appearing in the news for Cuban Facebook users. The same strategy will be replicated in other preferred social networks.
Miami New Times says that the documents do not explain what federal agents mean by “unbranded” or “native” Facebook pages, but it is clear that they must resemble the pages of regular social network users to persuade Cubans to read propaganda from Radio and TV Martí.
According to the weekly, both government broadcasters have spent more than $800 million from the U.S. taxpayer over the years in their unsuccessful effort to influence Cuban public opinion.
This plan fits into a long history of attempting to use technology to fit propaganda against Cuba, says University of Pennsylvania professor John S. Nichols.
“There are certainly warning signs here,” says Nichols, co-author of Clandestine Radio Broadcasting: A Study of Revolutionary and Counterrevolutionary Electronic Communication (1987), about OCB’s efforts. “It is the latest plan in a long list of efforts by Radio and TV Martí and their predecessors to try to overcome the laws of physics…. Every time they fail to get their message to Cuba, they say there has to be some technological solution.
Instead, he adds, Congress “seems to fail to recognize that both stations are a colossal failure. It’s sad because they’re spending taxpayers’ money. But what’s really being wasted is our credibility as a great nation doing this kind of thing, dumb and stupid.
Prominent figures from both sides of the U.S. political spectrum, including Republican Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona, have described these OCB programs as counter-productive and a waste of money. Democratic representative Betty McCollum liquidated the AeroMartí platform in 2015 (to transmit to from an airplane to Cuba the broadcasts of Radio and TV Martí) and said that the OCB was an “unnecessary” office.
“Radio and television Martí are old-fashioned Cold War artifacts,” McCollum said in a statement in 2015. “Our taxpayers shouldn’t be funding propaganda broadcasts.”
But the programs continue to exist thanks to a handful of anti-Cuban lawmakers, including Miami representative Mario Diaz-Balart, a longtime promoter of Radio and TV Martí, says the Miami New Times.
Earlier this year, Senator Marco Rubio helped install Tomás Regalado, an old friend, as head of the Radio and TV Martí programs. Since then, Regalado has made great promises about how both stations have new plans to reach “5 million” Cuban citizens in the coming years. Regalado appeared last week on the Spanish-speaking MegaTV network to brag about the use of mysterious new technologies that the Cuban government supposedly cannot block. He said that 200 Cubans had received receivers that would help in this new attempt.
“It’s a technology that didn’t exist, and since the government doesn’t know about it, it will be almost impossible to block it,” Regalado told the cameras.
Nichols argued to the Florida weekly that this type of social media propaganda is damaging the U.S. position in the world.
“Third countries see what we are doing and say,’Here comes America again doing this nonsense,” and he adds,’It’s low, petty and not worthy of great power. Other countries will say,’If the U.S. is willing to violate international law, why should we obey our contractual obligations? And given what Radio Martí and TV Martí might be doing right now, we have a hard time complaining about what other countries might be doing against us.
The report that Miami New Times had access to is OCB’s budget request for fiscal years 2018 and 2019. It does not reveal the identities of fake “native” and “unbranded” accounts created on the social network, but Facebook administrators do know what they are. By these extravagant quirks in life, this information coincides with the decision of the social network founded by Marc Zuckerberg to eliminate hundreds of alleged false accounts of Russians and Iranians allegedly involved in several disinformation campaigns.
Will Facebook also eliminate the false accounts created by the U.S. government for regime change in Cuba and will the U.S. Attorney’s Office appoint Robert Mueller or another of his ilk to investigate these abuses, as it has done to determine alleged Russian interference through Facebook in the 2016 elections?
1985: Radio Martí began broadcasting, and five years later, the television aggression began when a television transmitter was put into service on board a captive aerostat at an altitude of 3,000 meters in one of the keys in the south of the state of Florida.
2005: Hurricane Dennis disappeared the captive balloon located at 10,000 feet above sea level in Cudjoe Key, from where Television Martí was broadcast. The OCB replaced it with the AeroMartí platform.
2014: OCB created the unwanted text messaging service Pyramid, which failed. Then it tried to smuggle small satellite devices into the island, but the project was aborted because in addition to being expensive, the “dissidents” used the terminals to view pornography.
2015: Deactivation of “AeroMartí”.
2018: President Trump created the Internet Task Force for Cuba, which according to the State Department “will examine the technological challenges and opportunities for expanding access to the Internet and independent media in Cuba. Clearly, this Task Force has encouraged OCB’s digital fantasy.
Several investigations by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) have acknowledged that there is strong evidence that Radio and Television Martí is not heard or seen in Cuba. According to the Miami New Times, this saga has cost the American taxpayer more than $800 million.
TAKEN FROM: Desbloqueando Cuba