A dead, depending on the source between 130 and 180 Arrested, cut off mobile Internet to avoid opposition communication and many accusations of Western governments, conservative media and social networks against “brutal human rights violations” shape the international mood after the public protest rallies on July 11 and 12 in about 20 Cuban cities.
The noise sounds like a mixture of seemingly justified indignation and demagogy, like that of the Chilean head of State Sebastián Piñera, who accused Cuba of “violating human rights such as freedom of expression and the peaceful right to demonstrate, which must always be respected and protected”, but ordered even the most brutal police operations in Latin America at the end of 2019, inflicting the most serious eye injuries, blindness, torture and rape, for which the president was indicted in April 2021 before the International Criminal Court. The room-filling coverage also contrasts immensely with the pitiful offer of background information about two parallel locations, which are, however, marked by a cruel bloodshed: about the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in neighboring Haiti and the shootings of at least 70 people during the unrest in South Africa. One could ponder, but these are “only colored people” who are rarely entitled to appear on white newspaper.
Admission of justified dissatisfaction, but with digitally controlled protests
Opposition groups such as the" Movement San Isidro " accuse the government of arresting dissidents and “making them disappear”. She is accused of “contempt and offences against public order”; offences punishable by three to six years in prison. There are no official figures or confirmation of the number of arrests. Two days after the clashes, however, the Cuban Interior Ministry’s thrifty statements included the announcement and regret that 36-year-old protester Diubis Laurencio had died while participating in the “riots” in the Güinera district on the outskirts of Havana.
In view of the seriousness of the situation, the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC) convened a special meeting of the Politburo on the same protest Sunday, at which President Miguel Díaz-Canel’s 90-year-old predecessor and Fidel Castro brother Raúl Castro felt compelled to attend also left his vacation in haste. The Politburo described the protests as"provocations orchestrated by counterrevolutionary elements and organized and financed by the US for destabilizing purposes." Díaz-Canel then called on his compatriots, via state television, to take the streets themselves, which belong to the “revolutionaries”. The following Monday, the president tweeted “The # Cuban revolution will not turn the other cheek to those who attack it in virtual and real spaces … We will avoid revolutionary violence” but we will suppress counterrevolutionary violence," he warned.
El 11 de julio no hubo en #Cuba un estallido social.— Bruno Rodríguez P (@BrunoRguezP) July 15, 2021
El gobierno de EEUU a veces veladamente y a veces de una manera pública impúdica ha estado llamando, convocando, instigando al estallido social y trabajando de manera desenfadada y de manera encubierta para provocarlo. pic.twitter.com/4z1r7J2hoj
A day later, Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez told a press conference: “On 11 July there was no social uprising in Cuba. Sometimes veiled and often outrageously public, the US government has called for social insurrection, summoned it, instigated it, and worked in a light-hearted and covert way to provoke it.” While the mobile Internet, the driving force of the demonstrations in Havana, was still blocked, there was apparent calm on the island this Tuesday, but secured by a strong military presence and police in civilian clothes.
The official version tries to downplay the social unrest, but with some discomfort. On the one hand, because she should have guessed them. On the other hand, the government recognizes that there were groups of “legitimately dissatisfied” among the insurgents, as Díaz-Canel admitted in a television program. With this insight, Raúl Castro’s successor returned on the weekend of the protests of San Antonio de los Baños, not far from Havana, where he met with protesters, who, however, were confused because of the US blockade, according to the head of state. But he’s not a cynic. Undoubtedly, the demonstrations had been fueled by social media, which spread nationwide as a snowball effect.
Meanwhile, the cheer was waiting for the right time, knowing that a wave of deep bitterness was brewing across the country over the prevailing supply crisis, which is characterized by food shortages, power outages and the collapsing health care system due to the Covid-19 pandemic. On the same weekend of protests, the Ministry of Public Health (Minsap) reported that the pandemic, which had plagued the island 16 months ago but had long been believed to be under control, appeared to be out of control the week before with 6,923 new positive virus cases and 47 deceased. And this not only to the displeasure of the population, but to the annoyance of the government, which was the only one in the entire Latin American continent to launch two Covid-19 vaccines-Abdala and Soberana 02 – under the conditions of a draconian blockade with almost heroic scientific perseverance, which are very well regarded as a [signal of health policy hope](https://www.dw.com/es/covid-19-las-vacunas-cubanas-son-una-esperanza-para-am%C3%A9rica-latina/a-58007770 “COVID-19: las vacunas cubanas son una “esperanza” para América Latina”) in the democratically governed part of the continent.
From “ZunZuneo” / Fake Twitter to remote-controlled maneuver for “Regime Change”
The fact that the Cuban government should have suspected the protests is not frivolous information. More likely, she had long suspected it, namely since the introduction of the Internet in Cuba and the approval of the Internet for mobile phones, both set up between the years 2008 and 2018 by the now state-owned telephone company Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba S. A. almost nationwide.
The digitized networking of Cuba was of course observed with argus eyes from Washington DC. And then, in 2014, the first Internet scandal broke in Cuba. The backgrounds read like this:
In July 2010, US government official Joe McSpedon flew to Barcelona to put the finishing touches to a secret plan to build a social media project aimed at subverting Cuba’s communist government. The mission of MCSPEDON and his high-tech team: to build a messaging network that could reach hundreds of thousands of Cubans. In order to protect the network from the Cuban government, a Byzantine system of bogus companies was to be set up through a bank account in the Cayman Islands and unsuspecting executives were recruited who were not aware of the company’s ties to the US government.
McSpedon did not act on behalf of the CIA, but the US Agency for International Development (USAID). According to the Associated Press (AP) news agency, which got access to the project’s secret documents and conducted interviews with several people involved in the project, it was planned to develop a down-to-earth Cuban Twitter that uses cell phone text messages to circumvent Cuba’s strict control of information and its stranglehold over the Internet. In an allusion on Twitter, the project was called ZunZuneo.
The documents leaked to the AP revealed the US government’s plan to initially build” non-controversial content " on a subscriber basis, i.e. sports news, music and current severe weather forecasts. Later, when the network reached a “critical mass” of subscribers, perhaps hundreds of thousands, operators should introduce political content. These should inspire Cubans to organize" smart mobs " (literal translation). In other words, mass gatherings that would summon a “Cuban spring” in the short term or, as one of the USAID documents puts it, to “renegotiate the balance of power between the state and society.”
The technical set-up of the subversive project was entrusted to the US government-affiliated company Creative Associates International, which earned tens of millions of dollars with this and previous projects in Arab countries. At its peak, the project attracted more than 40,000 Cubans to share news and opinions. But its subscribers never knew that it was controlled by the US government or that US contractors were collecting their private data in the hope that it could be used for political purposes. “There is absolutely no mention of the U.S. government involvement, “said a memo from Mobile Accord, one of the project’s 2010 contractors.” This is absolutely critical to the long-term success of the service and mission. USAID spokesman Matt Herrick said the agency was proud of its Cuba programs and noted that Congressional investigators reviewed them in 2013 and determined they were compliant with U.S. law.
The State Department under then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton considered social media an important tool of diplomacy. In a speech at George Washington University in 2011, Clinton declared that the US had helped people in “oppressive Internet environments to bypass filters.” In Tunisia, she said, people used technology to"eliminate and share grievances, which, as we know, helped fuel a movement that led to revolutionary change.”
At the beginning of 2011, however, the beginning of the end of the secret text platform was announced. Creative Associates was annoyed by the failure of the contracting company Mobile Accord to make ZunZuneo self-supporting and independent of the US government. The operation had encountered an unsolvable problem: USAID paid tens of thousands of dollars in SMS fees to Cuba’s communist telecommunications monopoly through a secret bank account and bogus companies. It was not a situation that could afford or justify it-and if it were revealed, it would be embarrassing or worse.
With disruptions and lockdowns, it was gradually uncovered by Cuban intelligence and ended in a vacuum around 2012. The AP investigation was reported by the British Guardian in April 2014 to a wider audience, the affair also found expression in German media, such as the Frankfurter Allgemeine, with the title “Wenn der kubanische Kolibri Unruhe stift”.
In force for 59 years, 29 times called for cancellation by the UN: Joe Biden continues blockade and destabilization of Cuba
The long-forgotten but highly explosive digital secret enterprise of USAID regained its topicality on the eve of the conflicts in Cuba.
With an annual vote held since 1992 and suspended in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, the United Nations General Assembly (UN) last June 23rd, by a vote of 184-2 (of the United States and Israel), condemned for the 29th time the US embargo imposed on Cuba by US President John F. Kennedy nearly six decades ago. In a 30-minute official speech, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla compared the embargo to the pandemic, saying, " How the virus suffocates and kills the blockade, and it must stop. Fatherland or death! We will win!".
According to estimates by the Cuban government, the blockade has so far caused more than $ 138 billion in damage. In 2020, the EU Parliament produced the study “Extraterritorial sanctions on trade and investments and European responses”, which strongly warns against the approaches and effects of US embargoes that violate international law.
In 2020 alone, it should have been nearly 4 billion US dollars, which prevented Cuba not only from meeting the needs of oil but also from importing simple vaccination syringes, which are required for the testing and packaging of the Cuban vaccines. The pandemic-induced slump in tourism as the first source of foreign exchange income has had a dramatic effect, which in turn largely finances the purchase of food, which Cuba has been using in its own agriculture up to 70 percent imported from abroad since the prolonged crisis.
The poverty-generating and escalating boycott seems to be of little concern to US governments, whether Republicans or Democrats. “The US agrees with everyone in defending Cuba’s freedom. Cubans, like all people, deserve the right to freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and culture,” was the cynical reaction of Rodney Hunter as political coordinator of the US mission to the UN. “Biden shows little desire to undo Trump’s Cuba policy,” the influential platform The Hill titled the Democrat’s backsliding, which promised during his 2020 election campaign to declare parts of the Cuba embargo null and void. Predecessor Donald Trump had brutally tightened the blockade with 250 new sanctions and, as the last, ridiculous official act by night and fog, had Cuba added to the black list of “terrorism-promoting countries”. The measures provoked an energy and fuel crisis, limited travel of American tourists to the island, as well as transfers from US Cubans to their relatives in Cuba.
While Joe Biden declared before he took office that Trump’s hard line against Cuba had “done nothing to promote democracy and human rights” on the island, the change of system – “regime change” in the jargon of the secret services – is still his goal. Apparently, the Democrats initially rely on “soft power”, namely the increased continuation of the digital, presential and media indoctrination of Cubans, for which Biden immediately had 20 million US dollars reserved for USAID, as the investigative US journalist Tracey Eaton learned.