World Bulletin / News Desk
It has been revealed that for at least two years the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has been running a spy ring in Cuba by employing nearly a dozen neophytes from Venezuela, Costa Rica and Peru to stir up opposition against the government on the island.
Hired to recruit young Cubans to anti-government activism through civic programs, including an HIV prevention workshop, the agents were paid as low as $5.41 an hour to pose as visiters to college campuses and carry out the risky assignment of identifying "potential social-change actors."
Association Press reported that Costa Rican citizen Fernando Murillo was 29-years-old when he was sent to Cuba in April 2010, just four months after USAID contractor Alan Gross was jailed in Cuba for smuggling in sensitive technology, despite USAID telling contractors to consider suspending travel to Cuba at the time.
Like the other agents, Murillo was approached by Creative Associates International, a Washington-based company that USAID had hired with the aim over stoking up opposition against the Cuban communist regime. The same firm also played a key role in establishing the so called "Cuban Twitter" to promote the spread of information to hundreds of thousands of people in Cuba.
Murillo was given little training to cope with the dangers of the operation before being sent, but was simply told to check in every 48 hours. He was also given a set of security codes such as "I have a headache," which meant he thought the Cuban authorities were on to him and the mission should be aborted.
The only reassurance given to the inexperienced agent was that "although there is never total certainty, trust that the authorities will not try to harm you physically, only frighten you," as "the Cuban government prefers to avoid negative media reports abroad, so a beaten foreigner is not convenient for them."
"Nothing that you have done during your trip is illegal, in any way, in any open and democratic society. In this way, you can maintain a calm demeanor during the interrogation," the recruits were advised.
By November 2010, the program had about 60 participants, but Murillo was quickly exposed when a state security officer named Carlos Pozo took notice of him after he got in contact with a cultural group of electronic music and video artists called "Revolution." He immediately reported this to Creative Associates.
Murillo insisted that he was just there teach people to how to use condoms properly and had nothing to do with spreading anti-government propaganda. At the same time he refused to reveal details of the program because he had signed a nondisclosure agreement. However, his report back to Creative Associates mentioned the aim "to generate a network of volunteers for social transformation."
Manuel Barbosa, a founder of Revolution, also said that Murillo and his team never told him that they were working for USAID.
The mission was aborted when another member of Revolution demanded Murillo and his friend hand over the money that they had been assigned to deliver by Creative Associates, threatening to report them to the authorities if they didn't comply.
When questioned about the program, USAID said: "USAID and the Obama administration are committed to supporting the Cuban people's desire to freely determine their own future. USAID works with independent youth groups in Cuba on community service projects, public health, the arts and other opportunities to engage publicly, consistent with democracy programs worldwide."
USAID said the program "enabled support for Cuban civil society while providing a secondary benefit of addressing the desire Cubans expressed for information and training about HIV prevention."
"Cubans expressed a desire for information and training about HIV prevention, and the workshop helped to address their needs," USAID added.
In Cuba all of USAID's so-called democracy promotion work is punishable by up to 10 years in prison. USAID has not hidden the fact that many of their programs are used to gather intelligence, having recently vowed to stop using vaccine programs in Pakistan that were once used to gain information on Osama bin Laden.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 04 Ağustos 2014, 17:34