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Cuban Protests and The Two-Step Strategy

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 08/10/2021 - 1:59pm in

Tags 

Cuba, Protests

image/jpeg iconFidel_Castro_and_his_men_in_the_Sierra_Maestra.jpg

article I wrote about the Cuban protests on my blog when it was in the news

The most important thing the left outside of Cuba can do is understand this reality; that Cuba's current situation is the result of the failure of the two-step strategy to bring anti-capitalist social change.

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Private Facebook Group that Organized the July Protests in Cuba Plans Bigger Ones Soon

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 06/10/2021 - 3:31am in

HAVANA — After gaining access to their private Facebook group, MintPress can reveal that the people who sparked the July 11 protests in Cuba are planning similar actions for October and November.

The group, La Villa del Humor, is widely credited with providing the initial spark that ignited nationwide protests on the Caribbean island in the summer, the most significant demonstrations since the 1990s. On July 10, one of the group’s administrators posted this message:

Tired of not having electricity? Stubborn because they didn’t let you sleep for 3 days? Tired of putting up with the impudence of a government that doesn’t care about you? It is time to go out and demand. Do not criticize from home, let’s make ourselves heard. If we’re not going to do it, we’d better shut our mouths and not talk shit from home that doesn’t solve anything. Are we more afraid to go out than to put up with all this cheek? How is it possible? We demand that [Presidents Miguel Díaz-Canel and Raúl Castro] also have blackouts. We demand that, since we have no food, at least they let us sleep. Hit the streets. Down with the opportunistic communist government now. This Sunday at 11am, Parque de la Iglesia. See you there. If you don’t go, stop complaining so much.

The moderator also went on to provide a detailed itinerary of the march, including instructions on where they would march and what items to bring.


The post quoted in English above.

News and images of the demonstrations were immediately signal-boosted by individuals and groups in the United States, including the large and vocal Cuban ex-pat community in Miami, politicians, celebrities, and even U.S. government officials, to the point where even President Joe Biden put out an official statement endorsing events. The massive, global exposure this protest received turned it into worldwide news and rallied U.S.-backed anti-government forces across the island into the streets. However, the movement failed to break into the mainstream of Cuban society and quickly collapsed after it became clear that it had nothing like the numbers needed to achieve critical mass.

 

October surprise

The administration team of La Villa del Humor considered the July action to be a roaring success, and the first step toward a revolution that will depose the Communist government, in power since 1959. Fresh from their achievements, the group is helping to organize two new actions: a planned general strike in October and a larger set of nationwide demonstrations for November.

Sunday, October 10 is Cuban Independence Day and a national holiday. Organizers are calling for it to mark the start of a general strike (paro nacional in Spanish) to cripple or topple the government. An announcement shared on social media (including on La Villa del Humor) states that organizations across the country are gearing up for a strike next week, with hashtags like #ParoNacionalCuba and #SOSCuba trending. “We summon all worthy Cubans, lovers of freedom, their neighbors, their friends and their families, to a National Strike on Monday, October 11,” the communique reads.


A post outlining the planned Oct. 11 nationwide strike.

As with most anti-government activity in Cuba, there is very little transparency. No individuals or organizations are named, the announcements simply ordering all Cubans to put down tools. This leaves many on the island wondering whether this is simply another operation by the U.S. government, which spends tens of millions of dollars annually on clandestine regime-change efforts, creating or propping up anti-government groups for that sole purpose.

La Villa del Humor is playing a significant role in promoting the general strike. On September 23, the group’s chief administrator, Alex Perez Rodriguez, recorded a livestream for group members, beseeching them to act as one.

On October 10, we are calling on all of Cuba, on the occasion of another year of independence from Spanish conquistadors, to protest again to demand its rights, to express its longing for freedom and democracy. God willing, all the towns of Cuba will be willing to, and will want to, protest one more time and to take the streets.

“The dictatorship,” he insisted, “is about to collapse…” “I am certain that on July 11, Cuba began to head to democracy,” he added, before sharing a conspiracy theory about the country’s domestically-produced COVID-19 vaccines, claiming that they do “absolutely nothing but make people even sicker.”


“Cuba, hit the streets! Do it! And if you’re scared, do it with fear.”

 

Peaceful march or beginning of a revolution?

It is, however, the actions scheduled for November 20 that appear to be generating more excitement in the community. Marches across the island are planned, including in Guantanamo, Holguin, Camaguey and Havana, where organizers hope to begin at the iconic Malecón in Old Havana and end up in front of the National Capitol building, the headquarters of the National Assembly of People’s Power.

The movement is being outwardly advertised as a “peaceful march in favor of human rights and against violence,” and already has a who’s who of U.S.-backed figures such as the San Isidro Movement rap group and politician Manuel Cuesta Morúa signed on.

Yet, internally, the goals of the action appear quite different. Sharing an image reading “hit the streets until they [the government] fall,” Perez Rodriguez gleefully announced that “all of Cuba is preparing for this!”– quite a different message from the somber and respectful protests being reported on by sympathetic expat media in Florida. Other group members shared advice on planning and getting permits. Organizers hope to bring out thousands of people in Havana and other cities in what they hope will be the beginning of a revolution.

Conservative Cuban blogs claim that the government is already aware of the plans and has already taken action against those individuals whose names were on the protest permits.


Peaceful march for liberty, Cuba, November 20, Fatherland and Life (a common rallying cry of anti-government groups).


A post from Alexander Perez Rodriguez urging people to “hit the streets until they [the government] falls.”

La Villa del Humor: by Americans, for Cubans

Although the group is private, it merely took changing my name to a less English-sounding one and pretending I was from the group’s home town for the moderators to approve my application. The group itself was created in 2017, ostensibly as a local online message board and marketplace for the people of San Antonio de los Baños, a town of about 50,000 people situated in western Cuba. The name “La Villa del Humor” refers to a biannual comedy festival held in the town.

For a while it did function as such a service, as locals posted complaints about thoughtless neighbors, advertised second-hand goods they wanted to sell, or alerted residents about lost pets. In the past year, however, it has taken a radical turn, becoming a hotbed of anti-government organizing to the point where there are now barely any posts relevant to local people. Indeed, many of the group’s posters are not even from Cuba, their profiles revealing that they live in Florida. One particularly frequent contributor even lists his place of work as The Miami Herald, the city’s local newspaper. In the hours during and after the July protests, the group’s membership more than doubled before the admins set the group to private, meaning all new members need to be pre-vetted.

As such, the group has become a conservative echo-chamber, with users primarily posting anti-communist memes or cartoons or promoting actions against the Cuban government. In essence then, La Villa del Humor is a place where Americans go to cajole the residents of a small Cuban town into overthrowing their government.


Frequent La Villa del Humor posters showing Florida residence.

None of the administration team except Perez Rodriguez reveal their identity, hiding behind pseudonyms, meaning that anyone could be running the group. Perez Rodriguez himself does not live in San Antonio de los Baños. In fact, he does not even live in Cuba; he left the island in 2010 and today works as a pastor at a Seventh Day Adventist church in southern Florida.

The involvement of foreign nationals in the domestic affairs of Cuba is on a level that can scarcely be conceived of in the United States, with even the most adamant RussiaGate proponents stopping short of claiming that Russians directly planned the George Floyd protests or the January 6 insurrection.

What is also clear from interacting with the group and reading its messages is that there is no interest in discussing or improving the lives and rights of Afro-Cubans, despite the fact that corporate media in the U.S. incessantly presented the July demonstrations as so aimed, even chastizing Black Lives Matter and other black liberation groups for refusing to support the protests and siding with the Cuban government. On the contrary, La Villa del Humor continues to be full of pro-Trump content and posts condemning former President Barrack Obama as a dangerous socialist.


“The idols of ignorant people” includes most of Latin America’s most prominent left-wing politicians, including Evo Morales (Bolivia), Lula da SIlva (Brazil) and Nicolas Maduro (Venezuela).


A cartoon showing a Cuban woman throwing Raul Castro out of Cuba while shouting “Fatherland and life, dickhead!”


Another meme using “Patria y Vida” (Fatherland and life) as a rallying cry. President Miguel Diaz Canel has been knocked out by the protestors.


Recent pro-Trump content on La Villa del Humor.

 

A long history of meddling

La Villa del Humor’s arc from useful local service to foreign-controlled regime-change operation closely mirrors that of Zunzuneo, a Twitter-like app launched in 2010. Providing a dependable messaging service and undercutting the competition on price, Zunzuneo quickly gained a wide following in Cuba, attracting 55,000 people by 2012 — an enormous number considering the era and the lack of Internet access on the island.

However, at the height of its popularity, it abruptly shut down. Unknown to either the Cuban government or its public was that the app had actually been commissioned and paid for by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), Washington’s regime-change front group. The U.S. government’s plan was to first capture the Cuban market and gain the trust of the people, then to slowly drip-feed users anti-communist messaging, making it appear as if there was a groundswell of resentment. Then, one day, users would be alerted that a huge protest was happening and that they should all attend.

The NED was reportedly finding it increasingly difficult to hide who was behind Zunzuneo, at one point even meeting with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey in an attempt to have him buy the service. An Associated Press investigation later found that the NED chose to pull the entire project rather than risk being caught in the act.

While it is still possible to argue that La Villa del Humor is a quasi-independent forum, Facebook certainly is not, and has aligned itself closely with the American government. Last year, after the Trump administration assassinated Qassem Soleimani, the social media giant removed all content praising the Iranian general, despite the fact that he was by far the most popular political figure in the country. Explaining its decision, Facebook stated that it, “operate[s] under U.S. sanctions laws, including those related to the U.S. government’s designation of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and its leadership.” In short, if the U.S. government deems any group or individual to be a terrorist, then social media platforms are required to remove content challenging that idea.

Facebook has also signed a deal with NATO think tank The Atlantic Council, whereby the latter helps curate the news feeds of the Silicon Valley company’s 2.9 billion worldwide users. The Atlantic Council’s board of directors is a who’s who of establishment American power, including senior statesmen like Henry Kissinger, multiple military generals and seven former heads of the CIA. It is also directly funded by the U.S. and other NATO governments, as well as by arms manufacturers. That Facebook chose to hand over partial control of its content moderation to this group gives us a taste of just how close the relationship between big tech and big government has become. Facebook has also admitted to censoring Palestinian voices at the behest of the U.S. government and its Israeli ally.

 

Quo vadis?

Each year, the United States spends tens of millions of dollars in an effort to oust the Cuban government and install one responsive to U.S. interests. The most recent House Appropriations Budget, for example, allocates $20 million for “democracy programs” in Cuba, helping to support “free enterprise and private business organizations.” In case there is any confusion at what “democracy” means, it goes on to insist that “none of the funds made available under such paragraph may be used for assistance for the government of Cuba.” This is far from the only source of funding for regime-change operations. The U.S. Agency for Global Media, for instance, is spending between $20 million and $25 million on a similar goal.

Most of that money goes towards an information barrage aimed at convincing the Cuban population that their future lies with the U.S. and away from the Communist Party. Online activities are preferred, as it is much easier to remain anonymous and hide where the money for websites and publications comes from. The U.S. funds groups that produce all forms of public online content, including articles, videos and audio. It also provides training courses for young activists both online and in person, using tactics honed around the world to produce change.

They additionally fund and support Cuban artists, intellectuals and musicians who promote anti-government messages. One particularly notable example is rapper Yotuel and the San Isidro Movement, whose song “Patria Y Vida” has become an anthem for regime change. “Patria y vida” (fatherland and life) is a play on Fidel Castro’s slogan “Patria o Muerte” (fatherland or death). Yotuel led a sympathy demonstration in Miami in July.

The CIA also groomed Cuban professor Raul Capote to become the new president of the country. Unbeknownst to the agency, however, Capote was a double agent the whole time, and when the time came for him to lead a protest, he publicly revealed the plan and how he had tricked them into trusting him.

There is no way of knowing for sure who is calling the shots at La Villa del Humor; Perez Rodriguez denies any connection to the U.S. government. However, most of the Florida Cuban community have some links with Washington, even if they do not realize it. The U.S. has spent over half a billion dollars on beaming a TV and radio network into Cuba, creating large numbers of jobs in the process. Added to those are all those working for “non”-governmental organizations dedicated to cataloging human rights transgressions of the Cuban government. There are also contractors paid to build websites, translators, staff paid to work at events, and more. And that is not counting those directly involved in clandestine activities. Thus, the entire local economy is significantly buoyed by the South Florida-based, recession-proof regime-change industry aimed at Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua and other Latin American countries.

How the US Government Stokes Racial Tensions in Cuba and Around the World

While Villa del Humor did manage to be the catalyst for a local protest that, in turn, sparked a significant event in Cuban politics, the actual extent of their influence remains highly debatable. What is beyond doubt, however, is that they are indeed planning and hoping that their July stunt was just the beginning and that the end is near for the Communist Party in Cuba. Time will tell whether they can marshal enough forces to take this to the next level. If they are successful, history will absolve them. If not, history will likely forget them.

Feature photo | Cuban Americans rally against the Cuban government outside of the White House, July 17, 2021. Jose Luis Magana | AP

Alan MacLeod is Senior Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent, as well as a number of academic articles. He has also contributed to FAIR.orgThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin Magazine, and Common Dreams.

The post Private Facebook Group that Organized the July Protests in Cuba Plans Bigger Ones Soon appeared first on MintPress News.

Moishe Postone, the Mode of Production of Capital and Cuban Agriculture

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 14/09/2021 - 7:00am in

Tags 

Blog, Cuba

In my new paper entitled ‘Moishe Postone, the Mode of Production of Capital and Cuban Agriculture’ published in Capitalism, Nature, Socialism, I dive into the thought of Moishe Postone as conveyed in his remarkable work Time, Labor and Social Domination to question his ambivalent proposal for overcoming the system of capital. For this purpose, I develop a sort of reading from the periphery, taking the experience of the Cuban Revolution in the agrarian sector as a standing point for the critique.

My article recognises the significance of Postone’s contribution for the understanding of the logic of capital and the renewal of Marxist debates on the theory of value. The focus on the sphere of production instead of circulation, the implementation of a rigorous systematic and dialectical analysis of the categories of value, labour, commodity, and capital, the emphasis on the social form of labour under the capitalist system, the difference between historical and trans-historical categories, the analysis of the ongoing reconstitution of socially necessary labour time in line with the treadmill dynamic and the distinction between value and wealth are certainly among the richest aspects of his critical social theory. The work of Postone provides absolutely clear and indisputable elements for a radical critique of the mode of production of capital which embraces the need to overthrow value as measure of wealth, surplus-value as the goal of production, and labour as a central form of social mediation. This is undoubtedly crucial if one wishes to address the devastating social and environmental consequences of a form of economic growth rooted on value as a form of wealth. Yet, Postone’s proposal for overcoming the capitalist system presents a series of ambivalences.

Postone contests those Marxist approaches arguing that the inherent contradiction between relations and forces of production refers to the capitalist relations of production becoming, at a certain stage of development, a barrier or a fetter for the further development of the productive forces. Consequently, the abolition of private property and market regulation would allow for the further development of productive forces. Postone rejects this idea of the mode of production of capital as a mere technical process that could serve as the basis for a new society. Rather, he argues that this form of temporal domination rooted on value entails the technological transformation of the means of production into a form adequate to the system of capital. A process that is completed with the emergence of large-scale industrial production as result of capital’s relentless necessity to reduce necessary labour time in order to increase surplus value. Through this material transformation of the productive forces, capital achieves its veritable control over the mode production. The real subsumption of labour under capital.

Yet, although in the first instance Postone criticises socialist experiences of the twentieth century for focusing on the relations of production without questioning the mode of production itself, he surprisingly reaches the contradictory conclusion that the overcoming of capital would be possible through the mere appropriation by the people of this technological development, resulting from the historical objectification of living labour into dead labour as the productive power of capital. The very same industrial production initially analysed as historically specific to capital becomes independent from the social relations that gave birth to it. Yet, for Postone the acclaimed emancipatory role of technology is not simply related to a better distribution of wealth, but to the constitution of a new social formation where the creation of wealth would rely on the system of machinery instead of the direct expenditure of human labour time.


Ramón González, 1973 | Comisión de Orientación Revolucionaria | col. Biblioteca Nacional de Cuba “José Martí”

So, what would be the impacts of freeing workers from labour via this socially general productive power? My article thus questions Postone’s proposal for the abolition of value. I interrogate to what extent the appropriation of this technology shaped by the logic of value is suitable for the constitution of a new social formation. Or, on the contrary, to the degree that a different social formation and mode of production should correspond to a different technological model. For this purpose, I call upon the Cuban experience in the agrarian sector after the Revolution in 1959. Indeed, the vast effort of the revolutionary government to improve the living conditions of the rural population and to humanise agricultural work through massive mechanisation, the industrialisation of agriculture and the implementation of the “Green Revolution” technological package did not come without contradictions. Hence, I use modern agriculture and Cuban development strategy in the agrarian sector to illustrate the limitations of the forces of production inherited from the system of capital and the negative impacts their uncritical appropriation can have in terms of nature destruction, workers alienation and people’s needs satisfaction.

In this way I bring into discussion Postone’s ideas concerning the movement beyond capital while reflecting upon the non-neutrality of technology. I look at the way the uncritical appropriation of this techno-organisational model shapes the kind of wealth to be created, the labour organisation, the content of work and the relation to nature. In addition, I examine the sort of unidirectional vision of progress for countries of the periphery with a low level of development of the productive forces and whether they should follow the path of advanced capitalist countries, increase their level of productivity, and develop their productive forces into an automated machinery system before envisioning any socialist alternative able to free people from work. This is without mentioning the devastating impact such strategies might have for the environment and the current climate crisis. Finally, drawing inspiration again from Cuban experience, I propose some modest reflections on the potentiality of the historically accumulated yet marginalised productive knowledge of small farmers and grassroots counter-hegemonic practices for the constitution of a mode of production corresponding to a socialist alternative.

The post Moishe Postone, the Mode of Production of Capital and Cuban Agriculture appeared first on Progress in Political Economy (PPE).

How the US Government Stokes Racial Tensions in Cuba and Around the World

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 11/09/2021 - 1:34am in

HAVANA — “A Black uprising is shaking Cuba’s Communist regime,” read The Washington Post’s headline on the recent unrest on the Caribbean island. “Afro-Cubans Come Out In Droves To Protest Government,” wrote NPR. Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal went with “Cuba’s Black Communities Bear the Brunt of Regime’s Crackdown” as a title.

These were examples of a slew of coverage in the nation’s top outlets, which presented what amounted to one day of U.S.-backed protests in July as a nationwide insurrection led by the country’s Black population — in effect, Cuba’s Black Lives Matter moment.

Apart from dramatically playing up the size and scope of the demonstrations, the coverage tended to rely on Cuban emigres or other similarly biased sources. One noteworthy example of this was Slate, which interviewed a political exile turned Ivy League professor presenting herself as a spokesperson for young Black working class Cubans. Professor Amalia Dache explicitly linked the struggles of people in Ferguson, Missouri with that of Black Cuban groups. “We’re silenced and we’re erased on both fronts, in Cuba and the United States, across racial lines, across political lines,” she said.

Dache’s academic work — including “Rise Up! Activism as Education” and “Ferguson’s Black radical imagination and the cyborgs of community-student resistance,” — shows how seemingly radical academic work can be made to dovetail with naked U.S. imperialism. From her social media postings, Dache appears to believe there is an impending genocide in Cuba. Slate even had the gall to title the article “Fear of a Black Cuban Planet” — a reference to the militant hip-hop band Public Enemy, even though its leader, Chuck D, has made many statements critical of U.S. intervention in Cuba.

Perhaps more worryingly, the line of selling a U.S.-backed color revolution as a progressive event even permeated more radical leftist publications. NACLA — the North American Congress on Latin America, an academic journal dedicated, in its own words, to ensuring “the nations and peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean are free from oppression and injustice, and enjoy a relationship with the United States based on mutual respect, free from economic and political subordination” — published a number of highly questionable articles on the subject.

One, written by Bryan Campbell Romero, was entitled “Have You Heard, Comrade? The Socialist Revolution Is Racist Too,” and described the protests as “the anger, legitimate dissatisfaction, and cry for freedom of many in Cuba,” against a “racist and homophobic” government that is unquestionably “the most conservative force in Cuban society.”

Campbell Romero described the government’s response as a “ruthless … crackdown” that “displayed an uncommon disdain for life on July 11.” The only evidence he gave for what he termed “brutal repression” was a link to a Miami-based CBS affiliate, which merely stated that, “Cuban police forcibly detained dozens of protesters. Video captured police beating demonstrators,” although, again, it did not provide evidence for this.

Campbell Romero excoriated American racial justice organizations like Black Lives Matter and The Black Alliance for Peace that sympathized with the Cuban government, demanding they support “the people in Cuba who are fighting for the same things they’re fighting for in the United States.”

“Those of us who are the oppressed working-class in the actual Global South — colonized people building the socialist project that others like to brag about — feel lonely when our natural allies prioritize domestic political fights instead of showing basic moral support,” he added. Campbell Romero is a market research and risk analyst who works for The Economist. Moreover, this oppressed working class Cuban proudly notes that his career development has been financially sponsored by the U.S. State Department.

Bryan Campbell Romero

Cuban government critic Bryan Campbell Romero proudly touts his US State Department-funded education

Unfortunately, the blatant gaslighting of U.S. progressives did not end there. The journal also translated and printed the essay of an academic living in Mexico that lamented that the all-powerful “Cuban media machine” had contributed to “the Left’s ongoing voluntary blindness.” Lionizing U.S.-funded groups like the San Isidro movement and explicitly downplaying the U.S. blockade, the author again appointed herself a spokesperson for her island, noting “we, as Cubans” are ruled over by a “military bourgeoisie” that has “criminaliz[ed] dissent.” Such radical, even Marxist rhetoric is odd for someone who is perhaps best known for their role as a consultant to a Danish school for entrepreneurship.

NACLA’s reporting received harsh criticism from some. “This absurd propaganda at coup-supporting website NACLA shows how imperialists cynically weaponize identity politics against the left,” reacted Nicaragua-based journalist Ben Norton. “This anti-Cuba disinfo was written by a right-wing corporate consultant who does ‘market research’ for corporations and was cultivated by U.S. NGOs,” he continued, noting the journal’s less than stellar record of opposing recent coups and American regime change operations in the region. In fairness to NACLA, it also published far more nuanced opinions on Cuba — including some that openly criticized previous articles — and has a long track record of publishing valuable research.

 

BLM refuses to play ball

The framing of the protests as a Black uprising against a conservative, authoritarian, racist government was dealt a serious blow by Black Lives Matter itself, which quickly released a statement in solidarity with Cuba, presenting the demonstrations as a consequence of U.S. aggression. As the organization wrote:

The people of Cuba are being punished by the U.S. government because the country has maintained its commitment to sovereignty and self-determination. United States leaders have tried to crush this Revolution for decades.

Such a big and important organization coming out in unqualified defense of the Cuban government seriously undermined the case that was being whipped up, and the fact that Black Lives Matter would not toe Washington’s line sparked outrage among the U.S. elite, leading to a storm of condemnation in corporate media. “Cubans can’t breathe either. Black Cuban lives also matter; the freedom of all Cubans should matter,” The Atlantic seethed. Meanwhile, Fox News contributor and former speechwriter for George W. Bush, Marc A. Thiessen claimed in The Washington Post that “Black Lives Matter is supporting the exploitation of Cuban workers” by supporting a “brutal regime” that enslaves its population, repeating the dubious Trump administration claim that Cuban doctors who travel the world are actually slaves being trafficked.

Despite the gaslighting, BLM stood firm, and other Black organizations joined them, effectively ending any hopes for a credible shot at intersectional imperialist intervention. “The moral hypocrisy and historic myopia of U.S. liberals and conservatives, who have unfairly attacked BLM’s statement on Cuba, is breathtaking,” read a statement from the Black Alliance for Peace.

The Bay of Tweets: Documents Point to US Hand in Cuba Protests

 

Trying to create a Cuban BLM

What none of the articles lauding the anti-government Afro-Cubans mention is that for decades the U.S. government has been actively stoking racial resentment on the island, pouring tens of millions of dollars into astroturfed organizations promoting regime change under the banner of racial justice.

Reading through the grants databases for Cuba from U.S. government organizations like the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and USAID, it immediately becomes clear that Washington has for years chosen to target young people, particularly Afro-Cubans, and exploit real racial inequalities on the island, turning them into a wedge issue to spark unrest, and, ultimately, an insurrection.

For instance, a 2020 NED project, entitled “Promoting Inclusion of Marginalized Populations in Cuba,” notes that the U.S. is attempting to “strengthen a network of on-island partners” and help them to interact and organize with one another.

A second mission, this time from 2016, was called “promoting racial integration.” But even from the short blurb publicly advertising what it was doing, it is clear that the intent was the opposite. The NED sought to “promote greater discussion about the challenges minorities face in Cuba,” and publish media about the issues affecting youth, Afro-Cubans and the LGBTI community in an attempt to foster unrest.

NED grant Cuba

A 2016 NED grant targets hides hawkish US policy goals behind altruistic language like “promoting racial integration”

Meanwhile, at the time of the protests, USAID was offering $2 million worth of funding to organizations that could “strengthen and facilitate the creation of issue-based and cross-sectoral networks to support marginalized and vulnerable populations, including but not limited to youth, women, LGBTQI+, religious leaders, artists, musicians, and individuals of Afro-Cuban descent.” The document proudly asserts that the United States stands with “Afro-Cubans demand[ing] better living conditions in their communities,” and makes clear it sees their future as one without a Communist government.

The document also explicitly references the song “Patria y Vida,” by the San Isidro movement and Cuban emigre rapper Yotuel, as a touchstone it would like to see more of. Although the U.S. never discloses who exactly it is funding and what they are doing with the money, it seems extremely likely that San Isidro and Yotuel are on their payroll.

Only days after “Patria y Vida” was released, there appeared to be a concerted effort among high American officials to promote the track, with powerful figures such as head of USAID Samantha Power sharing it on social media. Yotuel participates in public Zoom calls with U.S. government officials while San Isidro members fly into Washington to glad-hand with senior politicians or pose for photos with American marines inside the U.S. Embassy in Havana. One San Isidro member said he would “give [his] life for Trump” and beseeched him to tighten the blockade of his island, an illegal action that has already cost Cuba well over $1 trillion, according to the United Nations. Almost immediately after the protests began, San Isidro and Yotuel appointed themselves leaders of the demonstrations, the latter heading a large sympathy demonstration in Miami.

“The whole point of the San Isidro movement and the artists around it is to reframe those protests as a cry for freedom and to make inroads into progressive circles in the U.S.,” said Max Blumenthal, a journalist who has investigated the group’s background.

Cuba’s cultural counter-revolution: US gov’t-backed rappers, artists gain fame as ‘catalyst for current unrest’

 

Rap as a weapon

From its origins in the 1970s, hip hop was always a political medium. Early acts like Afrika Bambaataa and the Zulu Nation, KRS One, and Public Enemy spoke about the effect of drugs on Black communities, police violence, and building movements to challenge power.

By the late 1990s, hip hop as an art form was gaining traction in Cuba as well, as local Black artists helped bring to the fore many previously under-discussed topics, such as structural racism.

Afro-Cubans certainly are at a financial disadvantage. Because the large majority of Cubans who have left the island are white, those receiving hard currency in the form of remittances are also white, meaning that they enjoy far greater purchasing power. Afro-Cubans are also often overlooked for jobs in the lucrative tourism industry, as there is a belief that foreigners prefer to interact with those with lighter skin. This means that their access to foreign currency in the cash-poor Caribbean nation is severely hampered. Blacks are also underrepresented in influential positions in business or education and more likely to be unemployed than their white counterparts. In recent times, the government has tried to take an activist position, passing a number of anti-racism laws. Nevertheless, common attitudes about what constitutes beauty and inter-racial relationships prove that the society is far from a racially egalitarian one where Black people face little or no discrimination.

Cuba Black Lives Matter

Cubans attend a pro-government demonstration in a show of support for the Cuban revolution, in Havana, July 17, 2021. Eliana Aponte | AP

The new blockade on remittances, married with the pandemic-induced crash in tourism, has hit the local economy extremely hard, with unemployment especially high and new shortages of some basic goods. Thus, it is certainly plausible that the nationwide demonstrations that started in a small town on the west side of the island were entirely organic to begin with. However, they were also unquestionably signal-boosted by Cuban expats, celebrities and politicians in the United States, who all encouraged people out on the streets, insisting that they enjoyed the full support of the world’s only superpower.

However, it should be remembered that Cuba as a nation was crucial in bringing about the end of apartheid in South Africa, sending tens of thousands of troops to Africa to defeat the racist apartheid forces, a move that spelled the end for the system. To the last day, the U.S. government backed the white government.

Washington saw local rappers’ biting critiques of inequality as a wedge issue they could exploit, and attempted to recruit them into their ranks, although it is far from clear how far they got in this endeavor, as their idea of change rarely aligned with what rappers wanted for their country.

Sujatha Fernandes, a sociologist at the University of Sydney and an expert in Cuban hip hop told MintPress:

For many years, under the banner of regime change, organizations like USAID have tried to infiltrate Cuban rap groups and fund covert operations to provoke youth protests. These programs have involved a frightening level of manipulation of Cuban artists, have put Cubans at risk, and threatened a closure of the critical spaces of artistic dialogue many worked hard to build.”

In 2009, the U.S. government paid for a project whereby it sent music promoter and color-revolution expert Rajko Bozic to the island. Bozic set about establishing contacts with local rappers, attempting to bribe them into joining his project. The Serbian found a handful of artists willing to participate in the project and immediately began aggressively promoting them, using his employers’ influence to get their music played on radio stations. He also paid big Latino music stars to allow the rappers to open up for them at their gigs, thus buying them extra credibility and exposure. The project only ended after it was uncovered, leading to a USAID official being caught and jailed inside Cuba.

Creative Associates International (CAI): It’s Not Exactly the CIA, But Close Enough

Despite the bad publicity and many missteps, U.S. infiltration of Cuban hip hop continues to this day. A 2020 NED project entitled “Empowering Cuban Hip-Hop Artists as Leaders in Society” states that its goal is to “promote citizen participation and social change” and to “raise awareness about the role hip-hop artists have in strengthening democracy in the region.” Many more target the wider artistic community. For instance, a recent scheme called “Promoting Freedom of Expression of Cuba’s Independent Artists” claimed that it was “empower[ing] independent Cuban artists to promote democratic values.”

Of course, for the U.S. government, “democracy” in Cuba is synonymous with regime change. The latest House Appropriations Bill allocates $20 million to the island, but explicitly stipulates that “none of the funds made available under such paragraph may be used for assistance for the Government of Cuba.” The U.S. Agency for Global Media has also allotted between $20 and $25 million for media projects this year targeting Cubans.

 

BLM for thee, not for me

What is especially ironic about the situation is that many of the same organizations promoting the protests in Cuba as a grassroots expression of discontent displayed a profound hostility towards the Black Lives Matter movement in the United States, attempting to defame genuine racial justice activists as pawns of a foreign power, namely the Kremlin.

In 2017, for example, CNN released a story claiming that Russia had bought Facebook ads targeting Ferguson and Baltimore, insinuating that the uproar over police murders of Black men was largely fueled by Moscow, and was not a genuine expression of anger. NPR-affiliate WABE smeared black activist Anoa Changa for merely appearing on a Russian-owned radio station. Even Vice President Kamala Harris suggested that the hullabaloo around Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling protest was largely cooked up in foreign lands.

Meanwhile, at the height of the George Floyd protests in 2020, The New York Times asked Republican Senator Tom Cotton to write an op-ed called “Send in the Troops,” in which he asserted that “an overwhelming show of force” was necessary to quell “anarchy” from “criminal elements” on our streets.

Going further back, Black leaders of the Civil Rights era, such as Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King, were continually painted as in bed with Russia, in an attempt to delegitimize their movements. In 1961, Alabama Attorney General MacDonald Gallion said, “It’s the communists who were behind this integration mess.” During his life, Dr. King was constantly challenged on the idea that his movement was little more than a communist Trojan Horse. On Meet the Press in 1965, for instance, he was asked whether “moderate Negro leaders have feared to point out the degree of communist infiltration in the Civil Rights movement.”

 

Nicaragua

The U.S. has also been attempting to heighten tensions between the government of Nicaragua and the large population of Miskito people who live primarily on the country’s Atlantic coast. In the 1980s, the U.S. recruited the indigenous group to help in its dirty war against the Sandinistas, who returned to power in 2006. In 2018, the U.S. government designated Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela as belonging to a “troika of tyranny” — a clear reference to the second Bush administration’s Axis of Evil pronouncement.

Washington has both stoked and exaggerated tensions between the Sandinistas and the Miskito, its agencies helping to create a phony hysteria over supposed “conflict beef” — a scandal that seriously hurt the Nicaraguan economy.

Why Shady Billionaire-Funded NGOs Pushed a PBS Report on Nicaraguan “Conflict Beef”

The NED and USAID have been active in Nicaragua as well, attempting to animate racial tensions in the Central American nation. For instance, a recent 2020 NED project, entitled “Defending the Human Rights of Marginalized Communities in Nicaragua,” claims to work with oppressed groups (i.e., the Miskito), attempting to build up “independent media” to highlight human rights violations.

To further understand this phenomenon, MintPress spoke to John Perry, a journalist based in Nicaragua. “What is perhaps unclear is the extent to which the U.S. has been engaged,” he said, continuing:

There is definitely some engagement because they have funded some of the so-called human rights bodies that exist on the Atlantic coast [where the Mistiko live]. Basically, they — the U.S.-funded NGOs — are trying to foment this idea that the indigenous communities in the Atlantic coast are subjected to genocide, which is completely absurd.”

In 2018, the U.S. backed a wave of violent demonstrations across the country aimed at dislodging the Sandinistas from power. The leadership of the Central American color revolution attempted to mobilize the population around any issue they could, including race and gender rights. However, they were hamstrung from the start, as Perry noted:

The problem the opposition had was that it mobilized young people who had been trained by these U.S.-backed NGOs and they then enrolled younger people disenchanted with the government more generally. To some extent they mobilized on gay rights issues, even though these are not contentious in Nicaragua. But they were compromised because one of their main allies, indeed, one of the main leaders of the opposition movement was the Catholic Church, which is very traditional here.”

USAID LGBT

A Nicaraguan man poses at a USAID event about LGBT issues in 2018. Source | CAI

U.S. agencies are relatively open that their goal is regime change. NED grants handed out in 2020 discuss the need to “promote greater freedom of expression and strategic thinking and analysis about Nicaragua’s prospects for a democratic transition” and to “strengthen the capacity of pro-democracy players to advocate more effectively for a democratic transition” under the guise of “greater promot[ion of] inclusion and representation” and “strengthen[ing] coordination and dialogue amongst different pro-democracy groups.” Meanwhile, USAID projects are aimed at getting “humanitarian assistance to victims of political repression,” and “provid[ing] institutional support to Nicaraguan groups in exile to strengthen their pro-democracy efforts.” That polls show a large majority of the country supporting the Sandinista government, which is on course for a historic landslide in the November election, does not appear to dampen American convictions that they are on the side of democracy. Perry estimates that the U.S. has trained over 8,000 Nicaraguans in projects designed to ultimately overthrow the Sandinistas.

In Bolivia and Venezuela, however, the U.S. government has opted for exactly the opposite technique; backing the country’s traditional white elite. In both countries, the ruling socialist parties are so associated with their indigenous and/or Black populations and the conservative elite with white nationalism that Washington has apparently deemed the project doomed from the start.

 

China

Stoking racial and ethnic tension appears to be a ubiquitous U.S. tactic in enemy nations. In China, the Free Tibet movement is being kept alive with a flood of American cash. There have been 66 large NED grants to Tibetan organizations since 2016 alone. The project titles and summaries bear a distinct similarity to Cuban and Nicaraguan undertakings, highlighting the need to train a new generation of leaders to participate in society and bring the country towards a democratic transition, which would necessarily mean a loss of Chinese sovereignty.

Likewise, the NED and other organizations have been pouring money into Hong Kong separatist groups (generally described in corporate media as “pro-democracy activists”). This money encourages tensions between Hong Kongers and mainland Chinese with the goal of weakening Beijing’s influence in Asia and around the world. The NED has also been sending millions to Uyghur nationalist groups.

Intersectional Imperialism: A Wholesome Menace

 

Intersectional empire

In Washington’s eyes, the point of funding Black, indigenous, LGBT or other minority groups in enemy countries is not simply to promote tensions there; it is also to create a narrative that will be more likely to convince liberals and leftists in the United States to support American intervention.

Some degree of buy-in, or at least silence, is needed from America’s more anti-war half in order to make things run smoothly. Framing interventions as wars for women’s rights and coup attempts as minority-led protests has this effect. This new intersectional imperialism attempts to manufacture consent for regime change, war or sanctions on foreign countries among progressive audiences who would normally be skeptical of such practices. This is done through adopting the language of liberation and identity politics as window dressing for domestic audiences, although the actual objectives — naked imperialism — remain the same as they ever were.

The irony is that the U.S. government is skeptical, if not openly hostile, to Black liberation at home. The Trump administration made no effort to disguise its opposition to Black Lives Matter and the unprecedented wave of protests in 2020. But the Biden administration’s position is not altogether dissimilar, offering symbolic reforms only. Biden himself merely suggested that police officers shoot their victims in the leg, rather than in the chest.

Thus, the policy of promoting minority rights in enemy countries appears to be little more than a case of “Black Lives Matter for thee, but not for me.” Nonetheless, Cuba, Nicaragua, China and the other targets of this propaganda will have to do more to address their very real problems on these issues in order to dilute the effectiveness of such U.S. attacks.

Feature photo | Cubans attend a pro-government demonstration in a show of support for the Cuban revolution, in Havana, July 17, 2021. Ismael Francisco | AP

Alan MacLeod is Senior Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent, as well as a number of academic articles. He has also contributed to FAIR.orgThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin Magazine, and Common Dreams.

The post How the US Government Stokes Racial Tensions in Cuba and Around the World appeared first on MintPress News.

Want Regime Change with Plausible Deniability? Call Creative Associates International

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 04/09/2021 - 3:02am in

Tags 

CIA, Cuba

After organizing coups, overthrowing democratically-elected heads of state, and arming death squads all around the world in the 1960s and 1970s, it was clear that the CIA had an image problem. The Reagan administration, therefore, began constructing a network of outsourced private organizations that would do the dirty work of the U.S. empire, shielding the U.S. government from the prying eyes of investigators and journalists.

“A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA,” Allen Weinstein, co-founder of the National Endowment for Democracy, told The Washington Post.

One of these groups is Creative Associates International, the subject of an in-depth MintPress News investigation by Senior Staff Writer Alan MacLeod. Alan joins MintCast host Mnar Muhawesh Adley today to discuss his findings.

Creative Associates International (CAI) was founded by Bolivian ex-pat M. Charito Kruvant in 1979. Visiting the organization’s website, viewers are met with images of smiling African children being taught how to read and write, happy Latino farmers, and pictures of Asian women going to school. The image CAI projects of itself is that it is a progressive charity helping many of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable groups. And it does indeed do education work in dozens of countries. But it also has a long history of being the shock troops for the U.S.’ regime-change agenda throughout the world.

CAI was involved in the 1991 Haitian coup d’etat that removed populist priest Jean Bertrand Arisitde from power; it has worked with Contra death squads in Nicaragua, helping to defeat the Sandinista revolution there; and it has also spearheaded a number of attempts to sow discord in Cuba, with the ultimate goal of removing the Communists from power.

CAI was hired to create a Twitter-like app for Cubans called ZunZuneo. The app would, at first, provide a great service and take over the market. Slowly, however, the plan was to drip-feed Cubans anti-Communist propaganda until the time came to organize a color revolution on the island through bombarding users with messages to take to the streets. CAI also recruited rappers to serve as anti-government figureheads who would push divisions and spread discord throughout the island.

Creative Associates International (CAI): It’s Not Exactly the CIA, But Close Enough

With virtually all of its budget coming from the U.S. government and six of the seven members of its board former or current high U.S. officials, MacLeod describes Creative Associates as a government organization posing as a non-governmental organization.

Alan MacLeod is Senior Staff Writer and Podcast Producer with MintPress News. He completed his PhD at Glasgow University in 2017, where he studied the U.S. government’s attempts at regime change in Venezuela. Since then, he has published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent. Joining MintPress News in 2019, he writes primarily on U.S. imperialism, Latin America, media and propaganda, and on cybersecurity issues.

In this frank discussion, we delve into the world of soft power and regime-change ops.

MintPress News is a fiercely independent, reader-supported outlet, with no billionaire owners or backers. You can support us by becoming a member on Patreon, bookmarking and whitelisting us, and by subscribing to our social media channels, including Twitch, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram.

Subscribe to MintCast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and SoundCloud.

Also, be sure to check out the new Behind the Headlines channel on YouTube and subscribe to rapper Lowkey’s new video interview/podcast series, The Watchdog.

Mnar Adley is founder, CEO and editor in chief of MintPress News, and is also a regular speaker on responsible journalism, sexism and neoconservativism within the media and journalism start-ups.

The post Want Regime Change with Plausible Deniability? Call Creative Associates International appeared first on MintPress News.

Fresh audio product

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 27/08/2021 - 7:14am in

Just added to my radio archive (click on date for link):

August 26, 2021 Helen Yaffe, author of We Are Cuba!, on the country’s economic history since the 1959 revolution generally, and on the recent “pro-democracy” demonstrations specifically

Remembering—and Forgetting—the Cuban Revolution

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 24/08/2021 - 10:30pm in

Photo credit: Benny Marty / Shutterstock.com _____ There are two widely familiar versions of the Cuban story. According to the...

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After the Cuban Protests: Discussion with Proletarios Cabreados

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 18/08/2021 - 1:51am in

Tags 

Cuba, Marxism, Protests

image/jpeg icon2021_Cuban_protests_police.jpg

We are publishing here our translation of a further document on the Cuban protests in July, entitled Análisis de la actual crisis y revuelta en Cuba desde la perspectiva comunista radical, by a group in Ecuador which goes under the name of Proletarios Cabreados (Pissed off Proletarians). You can find them at proletariosrevolucionarios.blogspot.com

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Cuba is the Latest Episode in the Death Agony of (State) Capitalism

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 28/07/2021 - 4:27am in

Tags 

Cuba

image/png icon2021_Cuban_protests.png

Cuba is the latest illustration of the failure of the Stalinist recipe of party dictatorship behind national borders, which palms off socialism as the development of the productive forces within a money based economy whilst every capitalist category, from wage labour to commodity production, from surplus value extraction to the concentration of privilege at one pole, is retained.

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Bức Thư Từ Một Người Vô Trị Cuba

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 21/07/2021 - 12:55pm in

image/jpeg icontranslation-of-a-letter-from-a-cuban-anarchist-after-the-protests-07-16-2021.jpeg

Bản dịch bức thư từ một người vô trị Cuba chia sẻ góc nhìn về tình hình chính trị hiện nay ở Cuba.
Originally published by Polemica Cubana. English translation at Bentley.noblogs.org.

Cuba, ngoài vai trò bảo tàng của cánh tả quốc tế, còn là một xã hội với nhà nước, cảnh sát, những kẻ đàn áp, những kẻ có đặc quyền & những người bị gạt ra ngoài lề xã hội, và một nhà nước quân sự nắm quyền quan liêu, tham lam như mọi nơi khác.

Một người vô trị Cuba

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