Former CIA agent tells how US infiltrates Cuban "dissidents"
davidquarter at sympatico.ca
Tue Aug 26 18:28:31 MDT 2003
----- Original Message -----
From: Michel COLLON
Sent: Tuesday, August 26, 2003 3:36 PM
Subject: Former CIA agent tells how US
infiltrates Cuban "dissidents"
Former CIA agent tells: How US infiltrates
"civil society" to overthrow governments
BY PHILIP AGEE
08/03/03: Condemnation of Cuba was immediate, strong and
global following the imprisonment of 75 political dissidents and the
execution of three ferry hijackers. Prominent among the critics
friends of Cuba of recognised international stature.
As I read the hundreds of denunciations that came through my
mail, it was
easy to see how enemies of the revolution had seized on those
condemn Cuba for violations of human rights. They had a field day.
Deliberate or careless confusion between the political dissidents
hijackers, two entirely unrelated matters, was also easy because
happened at the same time. A Vatican publication went so far as
the hijackers as dissidents when in fact they were terrorists. But
good faith toward Cuba also jumped on the bandwagon of
the two issues as one.
With respect to the imprisonment of 75 civil society activists, the
victim has been history, for these people were central to US
efforts to overthrow the Cuban government and destroy the work of
Indeed, regime change, as overthrowing governments has come
to be known,
has been the continuing US goal in Cuba since the earliest days of
revolutionary government. Programs to achieve this goal have
propaganda to denigrate the revolution, diplomatic and commercial
trade embargo, terrorism and military support to counter-
the Bay of Pigs invasion, assassination plots against Fidel Castro
Cuban leaders, biological
and chemical warfare, and, more recently, efforts to foment an
political opposition masquerading as an independent civil society.
The administration of US President Ronald Reagan in the early
decided that more than terrorist operations were needed to impose
change in Cuba. Terrorism hadn't worked, nor had the Bay of Pigs
nor had Cuba's diplomatic isolation, nor had the economic
embargo. Now Cuba
would be included in a new world-wide program to finance and
non-governmental and voluntary organisations, what was to
become known as
civil society, within
the context of US global neoliberal policies.
The CIA and the Agency for International Development (AID)
would have key
roles in this program as well as a new organisation christened in
National Endowment for Democracy (NED).
Actually, the new program was not really new. Since its founding
the CIA had been deeply involved in secretly funding and
foreign non-governmental voluntary organisations.
These vast operations circled the globe and targeted political
trade unions and business associations, youth and student
women's groups, civic organisations, religious communities,
intellectual and cultural societies, and the public information media.
network functioned at local, national, regional and global levels.
Over the years, the CIA exerted phenomenal influence behind the
country after country, using these powerful elements of civil society
penetrate, divide, weaken and destroy organisations on the left,
to impose regime change by toppling governments.
Such was the case, among many others, in Guyana, where in
culminating 10 years of efforts, the Cheddi Jagan government was
through strikes, terrorism, violence and arson perpetrated by CIA
the trade unions.
About the same time, while I was a CIA agent assigned to
agents in civil society, through mass demonstrations and civil
provoked two military coups in three years against elected, civilian
Anyone who has watched the opposition to President Hugo
government in Venezuela develop can be certain that the CIA, AID
and the NED
are coordinating the destabilisation and were behind the failed coup
April 2002 as well as the failed civic strikeof last December-January.
The Cuban American National Foundation was, predictably, one
of the first
beneficiaries of NED funding. From 1983 to 1988, CANF received
for anti-Castro activities. NED
The NED is supposedly a private, non-government, non-profit
but it receives a yearly appropriation from the US Congress. The
channelled through four core foundations. These are the National
Institute for International Affairs (linked to the Democratic Party); the
International Republican Institute (Republican Party); the American
for International Labor Solidarity; and the Center for International
Enterprise (US Chamber of Commerce).
According to its web site, the NED also gives money directly to
abroad who are working for human rights, independent media, the
rule of law,
and a wide range of civil society initiatives.
The NED's NGO status provides the fiction that recipients of NED
getting privaterather than US government money. This is important
many countries, including both the US and Cuba, have laws
relating to their
citizens being paid to carry out activities for foreign governments.
The US requires an individual or organisation subject to foreign
register with the attorney general and to file detailed activities
including finances, every six months.
Cuba has its own laws criminalising actions intended to
sovereignty or territorial integrity as well as actions supporting the
of the anti-Cuba US Helms-Burton Act of 1996, such as collecting
to support the US embargo or to subvert the government, or for
US government information to undermine the Cuban government.
Efforts to develop an opposition civil society in Cuba had already
in 1985 with the early NED grants to CANF. These efforts received a
significant boost with passage in 1992 of the Cuban Democracy
known as the Torricelli Act, which promoted support, through US
individuals and organisations committed to non-violent democratic
A still greater intensification came with passage in 1996 of the
Liberty and Solidarity Act, better known as the Helms-Burton Act.
As a result of these laws, the NED, AID and the CIA (the latter not
mentioned publicly but undoubtedly included) intensified their
programs targeted at Cuban civil society. CIA
One may wonder why the CIA would be needed in these programs.
several reasons. One reason from the beginning was the CIA's long
and huge stable of agents and contacts in the civil societies of
around the world. By joining with the CIA, the NED and AID would
board on-going operations whose funding they could take over while
the secret day-to-day direction on the ground to CIA officers.
In addition, someone had to monitor and report the effectiveness
local recipients' activities. NED would not have people in the field to
this, nor would their core foundations in normal conditions. And
money was ostensibly private, only the CIA had the people and
carry out discreet control in order to avoid compromising the civil
recipients, especially if they were in opposition to their
Finally, the CIA had ample funds of its own to pass quietly when
conditions required. In Cuba, participation by CIA officers under
the US Interests Section would be particularly useful, since NED
funding would go to US NGOs that would have to find covert ways, if
possible, to get equipment and cash to recipients inside Cuba. The
help with this quite well.
Evidence of the amount of money these agencies have been
spending on their
Cuban projects is fragmentary. Nothing is publicly available about
spending, but what is easily found about the other two is
AID web site cites $12 million spent for Cuba programs during 1996-
for 2002 the budget jumped to $5 million plus unobligated funds of
million from 2001. AID's 2003 budget for Cuba is $6 million showing
tripling of annual funds since the George Bush junta seized power.
surprise given the number
of Miami Cubans Bush has appointed to high office in his
>From 1996 to 2001, AID disbursed the $12 million to 22 NGOs, all
based in the US, mostly in Miami. By 2002, the number of front-
line NGOs had
shrunk to 12 the University of Miami, Center for a Free Cuba, Pan-
Development Foundation, Florida International University, Freedom
Grupo de Apoyo a la Disidencia, Cuba On-Line, CubaNet, National
Accion Democratica Cubana and Carta de Cuba.
In addition, the International Republican Institute received AID
a sub-grantee, the Directorio Revolucionario Democr tico Cubano,
These NGOs have a double purpose, one directed to their
in Cuba and one directed to the world, mainly through web sites.
the one hand, they channel funds and equipment into Cuba, on the
disseminate to the world the activities of the groups in Cuba.
Miami, for example, publishes the writings of the independent
the Independent Press Association of Cuba, based in Havana, and
money to the writers.
Interestingly, AID claims on its web site that its grantees are not
authorised to use grant funds to provide cash assistance to any
organisation in Cuba. It's hard to believe that claim, but if it's true,
those millions are only going to support the US- based NGO
subsidised anti-Castro cottage industry of a sort, except for what
delivered in Cuba in kind computers, faxes, copy machines, cell
radios, TVS and VCRs, books, magazines and the like.
On its web site, AID lists purposes for the money: solidarity with
rights activists; dissemination of the work of independent
development of independent NGOs; promoting workers' rights;
outreach to the
Cuban people; planning for future assistance to a transition
evaluation of the program. Anyone who wants to see which NGOs
how much can visit <http://www.usaid.gov/regions/lac/cu/upd-
AID's claim that its grantees can't provide cash to Cubans in
one wonder about the more than $100,000 in cash that Cuban
found in the hands of the 75 mostly unemployed dissidents who
went on trial.
A clue may be found in the AID statement that US policy
encourages US NGOs
and individuals to undertake humanitarian, informational and civil
activities in Cuba with private funds. Could such private funds be
from the NED?
Recall the fiction that the NED is a privatefoundation, an NGO. It
restrictions on its funds going for cash payments abroad, and it just
happens to fund some of the same NGOs as AID. Be assured that
this is not
the result of rivalry or lack of coordination in Washington. The
probably is that NED funds can go for salaries and other personal
compensation to people on the ground in Cuba.
The Cuban organisations below the US NGOs in the command
and money chain
number nearly 100 and have names [translated from Spanish] like
Libraries of Cuba, All United, Society of Journalists Marquez
Independent Press Association of Cuba, Assembly to Promote
Civil Society and
the Human Rights Party of Cuba.
NED's web site is conveniently out of date, showing only its Cuba
for 2001. But it is instructive. Its funds for Cuban activities in 2001
totalled only $765,000 if one is to believe what they say. The
gave to eight NGOs in 2001 averaged about $52,000, while a 9th
International Republican Institute received $350,000 for the
Revolucionario Democratico Cubano for strengthening civil society
rights in Cuba. In contrast, this NGO is to receive $2,174,462 in
AID through the same IRI.
Why would the NED be granting the lower amounts and AID such
both channelled through IRI? The answer, apart from IRI's skim-off,
is that the NED money is destined for the pockets of people in
the AID money supports the US NGO infrastructures.
Whatever the amount of money reaching Cuba may have been,
everyone in Cuba
working in the various dissident projects knows of US government's
sponsorship, funding and of its purpose regime change.
Far from being independentjournalists, idealistic human rights
legitimate advocates for change or Marian librarians from River City,
one of the 75 dissidents arrested and convicted was knowingly a
in US government operations to overthrow the government and
US-favoured political, economic and social order. They knew what
doing was illegal, they got caught and they are paying the price.
Anyone who thinks these people are prisoners of conscience,
their ideas or speech, or victims of repression, simply fails to see
properly as instruments of a US government that has declared
Cuba its enemy.
They were not convicted for ideas but for their paid actions on
a foreign power that has waged a 44-year war of varying degrees of
against this poor country.
To think that the dissidents were creating an independent, free civil
society is absurd, for they were funded and controlled by a hostile
power and to that degree, which was total, they were not free or
in the least.
The civil society they wished to create was not just your normal,
variety civil society of Harley freaks and Boxer breeders, but a
opposition movement fomented openly by the US government.
What government in
the world would be so self-destructive as to sit by and just watch
The threat of war against Cuba from Bush and his coterie of
of them crazed after Iraq, is real. A military campaign against Cuba,
coinciding with the 2004 electoral campaign, may be the only way
he can hope
to get himself elected for his second term.
[Abridged from Granma Internacional. Philip Agee was a CIA
operations officer from 1959 to 1969 and is the author of Inside the
Company: A CIA Diary.
He lives in Havana, where he runs a travel web site,
About NED and CIA infiltrating everywhere in the world
(also in Yugoslavia in the 90ties, see Michel Collon Liar's
Poker, French version chapter 19.
(not translated in the short English version).
Info : <editions at epo.be>
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