CubaBrief: The Cuban empire strikes back

Chris S. Simmons is a 23-year Counterintelligence Officer, from 1996-2004 he was deeply involved with the majority of US Counterintelligence successes against Cuba. Simmons hosts the blog, Cuba Confidential: The source of news on Cuban espionage world wide that is a must read. On October 31, 2019 he posted the following article by Toby Westerman that provides an assessment of the threat posed by Cuba to democracies in the region. The consequences of this Cuban presence was touched on in the previous CubaBrief with events unfolding in Chile, Ecuador, and Venezuela. Fidel Castro had been on the defensive following the collapse of the Soviet Union, but immediately began plotting his comeback founding the Sao Paulo Forum in 1990 together with Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. The past three decades in Latin America with the rise of Hugo Chavez to the violent intensity of the riots in Chile and Ecuador would have been unthinkable without the Castro regime’s operatives.

Renew America, October 30, 2019

The Cuban empire

The threat few see

By Toby Westerman

In America there is some awareness of the military threat posed by Russia and the Peoples Republic of China (PRC). There have been warnings from the U.S. military concerning the PRC’s growing challenge to the U.S. in the Pacific. Russian ballistic missile and land forces are a reality to most Americans, a legacy from the Cold War, but all perspective relating to Moscow’s strategies and tactics are lost to millions in the U.S. on account of unsubstantiated charges of some effective interference in U.S. elections and the presence of Russian “agents.” While these assertions have been made loudly and received much media attention, solid proof has been lacking.

Not only has the Russian threat become a punch line in some political and media circles, but the very real danger coming from Russia and one of its most active client states seems to be ignored. The Communist gulag state of Cuba, an ally of Moscow for more than 60 years, poses an immediate threat to the United States both as a base for spying against the U.S. as well as a military danger to nations in the Western Hemisphere friendly to the U.S.

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Within the U.S., Cuban espionage has been working to guide U.S. foreign policy, gather information on the readiness of the American military, and disrupt – even to the point of murdering – Cubans opposed to the Communist regime in Cuba. The arrest in 2001 of Ana Belen Montes, a former senior analyst for the Defense Intelligence Agency, provided a shocking example as to how effective Cuban intelligence could be.

Montes was the “go to” person on all things relating to Cuba, and her opinions helped mold U.S. policy toward Havana. While performing her top secret duties, she also informed her Cuban handlers of all the restricted information to which she was privy as a high ranking DIA advisor. (Montes is due to be released in 2027).

Earlier, in 1998, the FBI broke a spy ring referred to as the Wasp Network (La Red Avispa). Five of the ring were tried and convicted of charges ranging from being agents of a foreign power to conspiracy to commit murder. Sentences ranged from 15 years to two life terms for one individual. The U.S. Southern Command, which had recently moved from Panama to Florida, was a major target. [It should be noted that two served their sentences and three were released as part of a de facto prisoner swap.]

The reader should also be aware that the newly released spy-thriller, “Wasp Network,” by Oliver Assayas, has little in common with the actual activities of “La Red Avispa.” An editorial note on Cuba Confidential, which carries a September 2, 2019 review of the film, states “Any similarities between this movie and the real Wasp Network are purely coincidental…the real Wasp Network played a central role in the premeditated murder of four Americans, influenced the U.S. political system at the local, state and Federal levels; spied on numerous military targets including SOUTHCOM, CENTCOM, SOCOM, NAS Key West and Barksdale Air Force Base; intimidated American media outlets, manipulated the Cuban American community, etc.”

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The aforementioned film was based on the book, “The Last Soldiers of the Cold War.” The Wasp Network certainly was not “the last” of Cuba’s Cold Warriors. Cuban spies are still in business, looking for opportunities in the halls of power, universities, and any other position which serves their interests. They are also in close contact with Havana and are still using the old but trusty method of shortwave radio. A recent broadcast from a Cuban spy station, known as a “numbers station.” to spies in the U.S. can be heard here, courtesy of Cuba Confidential.

While Cuban spies poke, pry, and prowl for indications of U.S. vulnerabilities, Havana is very active in Latin America, particularly in Venezuela and Nicaragua. Cuba’s goal is to ensure the survival and strengthening of the Communist dictators in those two nations, as well as assisting the Communist guerilla groups operating against the Colombian government.

According to documents reviewed by Reuters for its “Special Report: How Cuba taught Venezuela to quash military dissent,” agreements signed in May 2008 allowed Cuba’s armed forces to train the Venezuelan military and train (retrain) Venezuelan intelligence operatives in Havana. No longer would the military’s main objective be to defend the Venezuelan nation, but to protect the Socialist regime. Venezuela’s intelligence officers now spy on the Venezuelan people (including the military) instead of the nation’s rivals.

The words above do not convey the atmosphere of fear and betrayal which now reign in what had been one of America’s closest friends in Latin America, as well as a nation which was a top oil producer with a thriving economy. All that has been replaced with poverty and oppression. Venezuela has imported from Cuba a system of social control whose history extends back to the days of Lenin and Stalin. The Whisperers by historian Orlando Figes detailed how Soviet authorities used fear and mistrust of one citizen to another to terrorize a nation. More recently the (very) dark comedy, “The Death of Stalin,” made vivid in film how this system carried out its societal terrorism. [Note: This film/DVD is not for children due to frequent crude language and violence]. This method of calculated terror is what the Soviet KGB and East German Stasi spy masters brought to Cuba, and is what the Cubans further refined.

In Cuba, social control is accomplished by Committees for the Defense of the Revolution. Members of these Committees are expected to watch and report the activities of their friends and neighbors. By one estimate out of a population of 12 million 7.6 million are members of one of these Committees. As with the Soviet system, there is a reward for names, and anyone can be named. Venezuela is now subject to the experience gained through one hundred years of indescribable governmental terrorism.

The Socialist masters in Havana are not content with their sophisticated spying on the U.S. and their domination of Communist Venezuela, but are also active in supporting the Marxist government in Nicaragua and undermining the Colombian government. A recent report states that more than 5,000 Cuban “tourists” have arrived in Nicaragua during the first five months of 2019, an increase of nearly 900 percent from the previous year. The vast majority have the mission of engaging in covert activities in support of Communist national leader Daniel Ortega against rising popular anger.

ELN fighters in Catatumbo

The government of Colombia is now witnessing a rebirth of the Communist guerrilla operations which had been halted by a November 2016 peace agreement. With assistance from Venezuela and Cuba, the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) is again active in attempting to install Socialism by force in Colombia. The smaller Marxist ELN (National Liberation Army) is reported to have 45% of its armed groups within Venezuela. The ELN is operating as a de facto regional government to recruit fighters and gain needed funds to carry out its war with Colombia.

Communism and imperialism are supposed to be in opposition, but, in reality, Communists employ the same tactics to achieve domination: subversion and force. The Soviets used its brand of imperialism to control Eastern Europe, and now Havana, some seventy years later, is successfully employing its own version to extend Communist power across Latin America. Fear, violence and oppression are the end result. Cuba’s imperialism, unlike earlier British or French colonialism, is not operating solely in its own interests.

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Cuba works closely with the (crypto-Marxist) Russian Federation and the overtly Communist Peoples Republic of China. Both Russia and the PRC have for years propped the Cuban regime and have received secret information from Cuba on the operation of the United States government and military. Now Moscow and Beijing are working closely with Havana in Venezuela and Nicaragua. In Venezuela alone, Russia has sunk millions if not billions of dollars of military equipment into Venezuela and has advisors to train the Maduro regime’s troops. The Peoples Republic of China has made a large investment in training the Venezuelan military both in that nation and in China. The PRC is assisting the Maduro government in population control with electronic surveillance techniques and equipment.

America has fought and continues to fight conflicts half a world away to defeat terrorism. The cost of those conflicts, however, cannot blind us to growing aggression much closer to home. The combined efforts of the Russian Federation, the Peoples Republic and the Communist Cuban regime are directing their efforts not only against the Colombian government or the anti-Communists in Venezuela and Nicaragua. There is only one real enemy – the United States. America alone stands in the way of the military triumph of Socialism/Communism, an ideology which has already cost the lives of millions and promises a life of fear and terror to those who survive.* This is the reality of which the U.S. media, liberal and conservative, are not informing the American people.

The survival of the United States depends on America coming to a realization of who and what seeks our destruction. We are not alone. If we are resolute, millions in Latin America will also stand against this oppression which claims to be beyond the laws of God and man.

*For those wanting an in depth account of the costs of Socialism, read The Black Book of Communism, Stéphane Courtois ed.

© Toby Westerman