Former CIA agent tells how US infiltrates Cuban "dissidents"

David Quarter davidquarter at sympatico.ca
Tue Aug 26 18:28:31 MDT 2003


from: Mart
---------------------------
----- 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
practically
global following the imprisonment of 75 political dissidents and the
execution of three ferry hijackers. Prominent among the critics
were past
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
issues to
condemn Cuba for violations of human rights. They had a field day.

  Deliberate or careless confusion between the political dissidents
and the
hijackers, two entirely unrelated matters, was also easy because
the events
happened at the same time. A Vatican publication went so far as
to describe
the hijackers as dissidents when in fact they were terrorists. But
others of
good faith toward Cuba also jumped on the bandwagon of
condemnation treating
the two issues as one.

  With respect to the imprisonment of 75 civil society activists, the
main
victim has been history, for these people were central to US
government
efforts to overthrow the Cuban government and destroy the work of
the
revolution.

  Indeed, regime change, as overthrowing governments has come
to be known,
has been the continuing US goal in Cuba since the earliest days of
the
revolutionary government. Programs to achieve this goal have
included
propaganda to denigrate the revolution, diplomatic and commercial
isolation,
trade embargo, terrorism and military support to counter-
revolutionaries,
the Bay of Pigs invasion, assassination plots against Fidel Castro
and other
Cuban leaders, biological
and chemical warfare, and, more recently, efforts to foment an
internal
political opposition masquerading as an independent civil society.

  The administration of US President Ronald Reagan in the early
1980s
decided that more than terrorist operations were needed to impose
regime
change in Cuba. Terrorism hadn't worked, nor had the Bay of Pigs
invasion,
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
develop
non-governmental and voluntary organisations, what was to
become known as
civil society, within
the context of US global neoliberal policies.

  Coups

  The CIA and the Agency for International Development (AID)
would have key
roles in this program as well as a new organisation christened in
1983 the
National Endowment for Democracy (NED).

  Actually, the new program was not really new. Since its founding
in 1947,
the CIA had been deeply involved in secretly funding and
manipulating
foreign non-governmental voluntary organisations.

  These vast operations circled the globe and targeted political
parties,
trade unions and business associations, youth and student
organisations,
women's groups, civic organisations, religious communities,
professional,
intellectual and cultural societies, and the public information media.
The
network functioned at local, national, regional and global levels.

  Over the years, the CIA exerted phenomenal influence behind the
scenes in
country after country, using these powerful elements of civil society
to
penetrate, divide, weaken and destroy organisations on the left,
and indeed
to impose regime change by toppling governments.

  Such was the case, among many others, in Guyana, where in
1964,
culminating 10 years of efforts, the Cheddi Jagan government was
overthrown
through strikes, terrorism, violence and arson perpetrated by CIA
agents in
the trade unions.

  About the same time, while I was a CIA agent assigned to
Ecuador, our
agents in civil society, through mass demonstrations and civil
unrest,
provoked two military coups in three years against elected, civilian
governments.

  Anyone who has watched the opposition to President Hugo
Chavez's
government in Venezuela develop can be certain that the CIA, AID
and the NED
are coordinating the destabilisation and were behind the failed coup
in
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
US$390,000
for anti-Castro activities. NED

  The NED is supposedly a private, non-government, non-profit
foundation,
but it receives a yearly appropriation from the US Congress. The
money is
channelled through four core foundations. These are the National
Democratic
Institute for International Affairs (linked to the Democratic Party); the
International Republican Institute (Republican Party); the American
Center
for International Labor Solidarity; and the Center for International
Private
Enterprise (US Chamber of Commerce).

  According to its web site, the NED also gives money directly to
groups
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
money are
getting privaterather than US government money. This is important
because so
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
controlto
register with the attorney general and to file detailed activities
reports,
including finances, every six months.

  Cuba has its own laws criminalising actions intended to
jeopardise its
sovereignty or territorial integrity as well as actions supporting the
goals
of the anti-Cuba US Helms-Burton Act of 1996, such as collecting
information
to support the US embargo or to subvert the government, or for
disseminating
US government information to undermine the Cuban government.

  Efforts to develop an opposition civil society in Cuba had already
begun
in 1985 with the early NED grants to CANF. These efforts received a
significant boost with passage in 1992 of the Cuban Democracy
Act, better
known as the Torricelli Act, which promoted support, through US
NGOs, of
individuals and organisations committed to non-violent democratic
change in
Cuba.

  A still greater intensification came with passage in 1996 of the
Cuban
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
coordinated
programs targeted at Cuban civil society. CIA

One may wonder why the CIA would be needed in these programs.
There were
several reasons. One reason from the beginning was the CIA's long
experience
and huge stable of agents and contacts in the civil societies of
countries
around the world. By joining with the CIA, the NED and AID would
come on
board on-going operations whose funding they could take over while
leaving
the secret day-to-day direction on the ground to CIA officers.

  In addition, someone had to monitor and report the effectiveness
of the
local recipients' activities. NED would not have people in the field to
do
this, nor would their core foundations in normal conditions. And
since NED
money was ostensibly private, only the CIA had the people and
techniques to
carry out discreet control in order to avoid compromising the civil
society
recipients, especially if they were in opposition to their
governments.

  Finally, the CIA had ample funds of its own to pass quietly when
conditions required. In Cuba, participation by CIA officers under
cover in
the US Interests Section would be particularly useful, since NED
and AID
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
CIA could
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
the CIA's
spending, but what is easily found about the other two is
interesting. The
AID web site cites $12 million spent for Cuba programs during 1996-
2001, but
for 2002 the budget jumped to $5 million plus unobligated funds of
$3
million from 2001. AID's 2003 budget for Cuba is $6 million showing
a
tripling of annual funds since the George Bush junta seized power.
No
surprise given the number
of Miami Cubans Bush has appointed to high office in his
administration.

>From 1996 to 2001, AID disbursed the $12 million to 22 NGOs, all
apparently
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-
American
Development Foundation, Florida International University, Freedom
House,
Grupo de Apoyo a la Disidencia, Cuba On-Line, CubaNet, National
Policy
Association,
Accion Democratica Cubana and Carta de Cuba.

  In addition, the International Republican Institute received AID
money for
a sub-grantee, the Directorio Revolucionario Democr tico Cubano,
also based
in Miami.

  These NGOs have a double purpose, one directed to their
counterpart groups
in Cuba and one directed to the world, mainly through web sites.
Whereas, on
the one hand, they channel funds and equipment into Cuba, on the
other they
disseminate to the world the activities of the groups in Cuba.
Cubanet in
Miami, for example, publishes the writings of the independent
journalists of
the Independent Press Association of Cuba, based in Havana, and
channels
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
person or
organisation in Cuba. It's hard to believe that claim, but if it's true,
all
those millions are only going to support the US- based NGO
infrastructure, a
subsidised anti-Castro cottage industry of a sort, except for what
can be
delivered in Cuba in kind computers, faxes, copy machines, cell
phones,
radios, TVS and VCRs, books, magazines and the like.

  On its web site, AID lists purposes for the money: solidarity with
human
rights activists; dissemination of the work of independent
journalists;
development of independent NGOs; promoting workers' rights;
outreach to the
Cuban people; planning for future assistance to a transition
government; and
evaluation of the program. Anyone who wants to see which NGOs
are getting
how much can visit <http://www.usaid.gov/regions/lac/cu/upd-
cub.htm>.

  AID's claim that its grantees can't provide cash to Cubans in
Cuba, makes
one wonder about the more than $100,000 in cash that Cuban
investigators
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
society-
building
activities in Cuba with private funds. Could such private funds be
money
from the NED?

  Recall the fiction that the NED is a privatefoundation, an NGO. It
has no
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
reason
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
Independent
Libraries of Cuba, All United, Society of Journalists Marquez
Sterling,
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
program
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
money they
gave to  eight NGOs in 2001 averaged about $52,000, while a 9th
NGO, the
International Republican Institute received $350,000 for the
Directorio
Revolucionario Democratico Cubano for strengthening civil society
and human
rights in Cuba. In contrast, this NGO is to receive $2,174,462 in
2003 from
AID through the same IRI.

  Why would the NED be granting the lower amounts and AID such
huge amounts,
both channelled through IRI? The answer, apart from IRI's skim-off,
probably
is that the NED money is destined for the pockets of people in
Cuba while
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
activists,
legitimate advocates for change or Marian librarians from River City,
every
one of the 75 dissidents arrested and convicted was knowingly a
participant
in US government operations to overthrow the government and
install a
US-favoured political, economic and social order. They knew what
they were
doing was illegal, they got caught and they are paying the price.

  Anyone who thinks these people are prisoners of conscience,
persecuted for
their ideas or speech, or victims of repression, simply fails to see
them
properly as instruments of a US government that has declared
revolutionary
Cuba its enemy.

  They were not convicted for ideas but for their paid actions on
behalf of
a foreign power that has waged a 44-year war of varying degrees of
intensity
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
foreign
power and to that degree, which was total, they were not free or
independent
in the least.

  The civil society they wished to create was not just your normal,
garden
variety civil society of Harley freaks and Boxer breeders, but a
political
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
this
happen?

  The threat of war against Cuba from Bush and his coterie of
crusaders, all
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
covert
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,
http://www.cubalinda.com ]


________________________________________________________
__
________
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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