Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Introducing Agent Daniel (Updated)

Last night’s Razones de Cuba program, here with English subtitles, centers around Raul Capote, a Cuban professor from Cienfuegos who was allegedly courted by U.S. diplomats in Cuba in the hope that he would engage in political activism. He is the latest of the program’s protagonists to reveal himself as an agent of state security, Agent Daniel, that strung the Americans along.

The program is titled “Manufacturing a leader.” It purports to show how the U.S. government, at the time of Fidel Castro’s illness and during a period when Bush Administration policy and programs were built around the expectation that a “transition” was afoot in Cuba, dealt with a person viewed as a potential leader and source of information.

Judge for yourself.

Among the program’s statements and contentions:

  • Capote was initially in touch with U.S. diplomats, then was told to cease contact with the Interests Section; thereafter, in the interest of security he was to meet people who traveled to Cuba from abroad.

  • Those visitors included personnel from the Pan American Development Foundation (a U.S. government grantee), an American resident in Mexico, and Colombian and Mexican nationals who are described as “liaison agents.” All these people are shown on hidden-camera film with Capote, and there are recordings of phone calls too.

  • At different times Capote was seen as someone who could provide information about Cuban intellectuals and about Cuban politics and youth, or who could lead a new organization.

  • At one point he was recruited to work for the United States, which he took to mean for the CIA.

  • Capote was told by a U.S. diplomat that dissident Darsi Ferrer was planning to call for demonstrations in Centro Habana, and was asked to make a statement in support. The call for demonstrations was covered on a Miami television program. The demonstrations did not materialize.

  • Capote was given BGANS satellite communications equipment. At the time of Alan Gross’ arrest, he was directed to stop using it.

  • The use of high technology by the United States in its political programs represents a threat to Cuban security, but will not deter the Cuban government from expanding the Cuban people’s access to technology.

Of course there are two sides to every story but somehow I doubt the U.S. government is going to present its version of events.

Last night’s program also alleged that a Reuters correspondent collaborated with the U.S. Interests Section by walking Capote to meet one of its personnel (see AP story and Reuters response below). And it folded the CIA into the story, presenting it as part of a seamless team that also includes U.S. diplomats and USAID/State Department grantees.

Granma’s story goes into some details not in the television program.

Finally, I’m left with the same question I had yesterday. Rep. Ros-Lehtinen said, and no one would disagree, that Alan Gross was not the ideal person to work on these programs in Cuba. Regardless of the veracity of every detail in last night’s program, it’s clear that the operations in question were compromised. And they were carried out by people experienced in the region, who spoke Spanish, and who used third-country nationals as operatives. What, then, is the “right kind of person” to carry out this kind of operation?

Update: From a Reuters spokesman: “Reuters refutes the allegations, and stands firmly by its long record of accurate and unbiased reporting in Cuba and around the world.”

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