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Cuban double agent reveals CIA machinations in Cuba
by Raidel López
In Enemigo (Enemy), Cuban writer and university professor of history, Raúl Capote, reveals his life as a double agent; agent Pablo for the CIA, and agent Daniel for Cuban intelligence. This is not a work of fiction or a classic spy novel. It is the real experience narrated by the protagonist about plans by the CIA and its allies to destroy the Cuban Revolution. His story reveals one of the many facets of the US war against Cuba. For over half a century plans of espionage, sabotage, terrorist attacks, assassination, subversion, military, economic and political aggression, have been made and executed from the US. Most of these plans have failed, thanks to the work and sacrifice of men like Capote.
Capote does not consider himself to be anything but an ordinary Cuban. In the 1980s Capote was vice-director of the cultural association Hermanos Saiz, in Cienfuegos province. This organisation brings together artists, musicians, writers and others in the cultural field. Capote had published literature, which was known outside Cuba and was considered to be critical of Cuban society, even though it had been published by Cuban state publishers. This had caught the attention of the US Interests Section (USIS), a substitute for an embassy, in Havana. By the late 1980s, US officials had approached Capote offering him the chance to earn a lot of money by publishing ‘critical’ literature. Capote began working at the University Enrique José Barona in Havana as a history professor. CIA officials were interested in this work which allowed Capote to influence students. In the 1990s, USIS officials visited Capote with increasing frequency.
In May 2004, Capote was invited to dine at the home of Francisco Saen, a USIS official. The dinner was attended by diplomats and functionaries from several countries. There Capote met USIS officials Louis John Nigro Jr, Deputy Chief between June 2001 and June 2004, and Kelly Ann Keiderling, First Secretary of Press and Culture between July 2003 and June 2005. Keiderling befriended Capote and attempted to influence him and his family, inviting them to private dinners, giving them presents, promising them a prosperous future in the US, inculcating them with US ‘values’ and generally trying to influence their thinking. Keiderling was trying to recruit Capote to the CIA as part of a comprehensive plan to convert young Cuban intellectuals into enemies of the Revolution.
In 2005, the CIA concluded its studies and tests of Capote and he was officially recruited by Rene Greenwald, who used the pseudo name ‘El Gran Amigo’ (the great friend). Greenwald is a CIA veteran who participated in undercover actions against Cuba in the 1960s and worked in Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru, in dirty war operations to assist military dictatorships allied to the US government (p75). Meanwhile, Capote had signed up to work for Cuban intelligence, reflecting where his real loyalties lay. Capote recalls that the CIA tests never stopped, including putting him in threatening situations to see whether he would break. He never did.
Throughout 2004 and 2005, diplomats from other countries allied to the US also invited Capote behind closed doors at their residences and embassies. The first of these interviews took place in the British embassy in Havana in July 2004. Capote was ‘interrogated’ by Nigel Baker, Deputy Head of Mission (2003-2006) for four hours of probing questions about his life; more difficult questions than those faced in the USIS. Finally, Baker offered to help Capote but pointed out that such assistance would be limited because the British embassy maintains good relations with the Cuban government. A few days later, Capote returned to the embassy, this time to meet with William (Eddie) Edmundson, embassy staff and Director of the British Council in Cuba, to discuss how the British Council could assist Cuban writers with scholarships, courses and publications (p60). Obviously, writers in the revolutionary genre would not be included. Capote heard about another ‘dissident’, Hugo Arana receiving a box of ‘materials’ from Melanie Hopkins, then Second Secretary of the British embassy in Havana. The many invitations Capote received from diplomats from Britain, Chile, Austria, Germany, Poland, Chechoslovakia, came with offers of help and advice about how to achieve regime change based on the experiences of other countries.
One of the strategies promoted by the US Interest Section and its allies is the so-called colour revolutions, carried out with finance by Washington agencies and institutions, including the International Center on Non-Violent Conflict, Freedom House, USAID, the National Endowment for Democracy and the International Republican Institute. This strategy involves promoting destabilisation through the mobilisation of youth on the streets and to provoke state repression. Its success has been seen in the former Yugoslavia, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan and Ukraine, among other countries. Its application is being pursued in Venezuela.
The USIS worked hard to promote this approach among Cuban youth. In 2006 they organised a documentary showing on this theme for the youth opposition in Cuba. Capote was invited to an event at the ‘Eagle Bar’, inside the USIS, along with the so-called independent journalists for a teleconference with a professor in Florida. During the debate with the professor, US functionaries laughed at the stupidity of the Cuban ‘journalists’ present and one of them declared ‘with enemies like this, Castro will be in power for a hundred years.’ After the conference every participant was given a digital recorder, a bag of books, notebooks, a manual with instructions on how to create a press agency, pens, pencils and a portable radio. Keiderling subsequently told Capote that none of them could be trusted and was extremely dismissive of the Cuban ‘dissidents’.
The mercenary character of these individuals led to fights between them over their share of USIS presents. During a US Independence Day celebration at the house of James Cason, Chief of USIS (2002–2005), ‘dissidents’ fought over portable radios. Keiderling told Capote that they sell the radios to ordinary Cubans for $10. Capote asked ‘if you know that why do you give them out?’ No-one responded (p45).
Capote’s work for the CIA
One of Capote’s first tasks as the CIA’s agent Pablo was to create a literary agency grouping together Cuban writers who were discontented or felt that their work was insufficiently promoted by Cuba’s cultural institutions. The idea was to promote counter-revolutionary ideas, offering them financial support. Capote was also instructed to create a foundation to be called Genesis, which, he was told, would function as an NGO in the education sector. Its role would be to create future politicians, leaders and above all ‘democratic citizens’. Capote was the key player in this task, as his work within the universities would facilitate the CIA penetration of this sector, university students, which was considered vital to their plans (p102).
The foundation’s profile would vary in the course of its work, but it would be ready to function at full capacity after the collapse of the socialist system, it was explained. It should be the future guarantor of democracy, a Think Tank of the new Cuban right-wing, able to train a leadership, prepare democratic citizens and create an ethic (axiology) to impede the return of socialist ideas in Cuba by educating the youth in ultraconservative, right-wing Catholic values. All the finances and resources necessary would be received via NGOs and CIA-front organisations including USAID and the Pan-American Development Foundation. Capote reveals that much of this money did not reach the Cubans identified, however, as those people linked to the CIA who travelled to Cuba as tourists, or students, bringing the resources and finance with them, used the money for holidaying in Cuba.
Capote was given sophisticated technology equipment for sending reports to the CIA and for connecting to the internet via satellite without detection, quickly and efficiently, including a Bgan 9201 (like that used by mercenary Alan Gross), and a laptop computer. Capote’s reports were to contain information and analysis about the situation in Cuba: the youth, students, the education system, intellectuals and artists. He was to gather statements of opinion, technical information on communications networks in Cuba, new technologies, self-employed workers – anything to that could facilitate covert operations by the US government.
A Cuban girl
Capote’s experience of working with the enemy and the insight this gave him into their attitudes, ethics, morals and intentions for Cuba, strengthened his commitment to his parallel work to defend the Cuban Revolution. This resolve was strengthened after a road trip he took with Greenwald. They were joined by Lesvia, a 14-year old Cuban girl from the countryside who was travelling to Trinidad and agreed to serve as their guide. When Greenwald spoke badly about the Revolution, she told him why she was a revolutionary and informed him about her schooling and future plans. When he spoke badly about Fidel, she replied: ‘Fidel is father to all Cubans, his death will be the greatest misfortune that could happen and I will not let anyone speak badly about him!’ Capote proudly thought to himself ‘these are the people I struggle for, it is worth sacrificing everything, even my life if necessary.’ When they arrived at their destination, Greenwald offered Lesvia money as payment. She rejected it ‘My parents taught me not to accept money from foreigners, and what’s more, one should not accept money that has not been the fruit of their labour.’
The popular uprising
On 31 July 2006, Cuban television announced that Comandante Fidel Castro was seriously ill and had delegated his responsibilities to Raul Castro and other comrades. Capote was immediately contacted by Rene Greenwald who wanted to know what was happening. The US had always believed that the Fidel’s demise could mean the end of the Revolution and speculated about a possible power struggle, dreaming of a military rebellion or minimally civil disobedience that would serve as a pretext for US intervention. The US was ready, Greenwald affirmed, to ‘help’ the Cuban people. But the days passed and nothing happened.
On 13 August 2006, Capote was summonsed to the USIS and instructed to write a proclamation in the name of the Cuban people asking the US government to militarily occupy the country. They would ensure it reached the main media outlets. ‘You will read the proclamation in front of the cameras of the news channels’, Drew Blackeney, the USIS’s spokesman, told him (p87). The CIA regarded Capote as their most skilled and staunch recruit inside Cuba. He was to ‘request US Army intervention, in the name of the Cuban people, to guarantee transition without chaos, because as you know, this is the only guarantee of a peaceful change. We have to avoid lawlessness, to avoid a crisis’ (p87). ‘What about the people in Miami?’ Capote asked. ‘Neither Miami or Havana, we are the only ones who can guarantee the necessary peace, stability and governability. But it has to come from the Cubans, it has to be a Cuban who asked for US help.’
Blackeney explained that ‘the first measure of our government will be to guard the coastlines, to avoid the [Cuban-American] exiles from leaving for the island and the second will be to locate and control the main exile leaders.’ Blackeney described their immediately future plans; three years of military occupation, and to designate and establish a provisional government, incorporating Cuban-Americans and the internal opposition. Washington would create a Commission to take charge of the restructuring of Cuba’s economy, redrafting the Constitution, creating new armed bodies, to put on trial the old members of Cuba’s Revolutionary Armed Forces, the Ministry of the Interior, members of the Cuban Communist Party and revolutionary leaders and militants in general.
Blackeney said they had prepared a popular uprising in Central Havana by ‘someone who is prepared to sacrifice himself’. When Capote expressed his scepticism that the Cuban people would respond, Blackeney said: ‘We don’t need Central Havana to rise up, its enough to have a group who goes out to protest. They will have the main media outlets covering the news. Afterwards you make your statement to our government in the name of the Cubans’ (p88). The popular uprising never happened. The counter-revolutionary ‘hero’, Darsi Ferre chose an isolated spot at a time it was almost deserted, sheepishly shouted a slogan, threw a handful of leaflets and left. Two elderly Cubans on their way to buy a newspaper saw him and concluded he was crazy (p89). Capote makes clear that if the moment had come for him to read the proclamation in front of the international media, he would instead have shouted a revolutionary slogan. Following the detention of Alan Gross, the CIA’s contact with Capote via the use of messengers decreased and they instructed him to hide his HBgan securely or, if possible, get rid of it.
In 2010, Cuban state security asked Capote to publicly reveal his work and denounce the dirty war being waged against Cuba by imperialism. Capote made his denunciation in a video published on the website Razones de Cuba (Cuba’s Reasons) In Capote’s words: ‘We are witnessing the development of a cultural war waged by the Empire against Cuba to perpetuate their hegemonic designs. Young people are the main target of that battle and young Cubans, of course the number one interest. If we treat the grandchildren of the revolution trivially, there will be no more Revolution and this bulwark that Cuba represents today would cease to exist; if we make mistakes, if we are corrupted, if they steal our souls. To achieve this they spend millions, employing their best professionals, ideologues, psychologists, philosophers, specialists, hundreds of capable people… this is the war that does not need arms, rocket launchers or armoured vehicles…the central paradigm of this struggle was, and still is, a war for people’s minds. It is a battle to impose the values of capitalist, consumer society.’
US imperialism continues its actions against Cuba, using diverse mechanisms including the USAID, which Capote describes as the visible face of the CIA (p188). Cuba will continue to defend itself from these attacks with the commitment and sacrifice of people like Capote.
1. As Charge d'Affairs of the US embassy in Venezuela, Keiderling and two other US embassy officials, were expelled from the country by President Nicolas Maduro in October 2013 for conspiring with the right-wing opposition to sabotage the economy and power grid.
2. See ‘Tweets, terrorists and mercenaries: renewed attacks on Cuba’ about recent projects to promote counter-revolution by USAID and other organisations, in FRFI 239, June/July 2014.
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