by Javier Gómez Sánchez, published on Popular Resistance, January 8, 2021
On November 28, 2020 Cuban Television abruptly ended the Cuban State media’s reluctance to publicly expose the U.S. attempts to fund and organize a new counterrevolution to bring about a soft coup in the island nation. The TV special was followed by episodes on Mesa Redonda, segments on NTV, news programs, articles in Granma and Cubadebate, as well as follow-up in various government-run media outlets. The ins and outs of this new counterrevolution, including the use of social media and digital outlets, acts of terrorist vandalism carried out to destabilize Cuban society, and the web of connections behind it, had never before been shown to the Cuban people.
The creation of a Cuban neo-counterrevolution dates back to the early 2000s, specifically May 14, 2004, when some CIA agents met at the residence of a staffer from what was then called the United States Interest Section in Havana. For the first time, they proposed relegating to a secondary role the traditional counterrevolutionary efforts funded by the United States because they had been so heavily discredited; they decided to instead create a counterrevolution with a new face and new rhetoric.
We know what happened at that meeting and the CIA plans presented there thanks to the testimony of writer and journalist Raúl Capote who was in attendance. He had been recruited by the CIA to unleash a culture war in Cuba, but later it was revealed that he was actually an agent of Cuban State Security.
The new counterrevolution was to recruit human resources among people—primarily young ones—with professional and social ties in the very Cuban institutions they were seeking to take down. This would ensure certain “prestige” and affinity with those sectors, which demographically may constitute a minority within the Cuban population, but are socially influential as generators of ideology: journalists, academics, and artists.
They were also to recruit and train several bloggers, and put them to work toward the counterrevolutionary objectives. Such people had been identified in Cuba after a mapping of the Cuban blogosphere—the universe of personal websites and internet groups. These people were identified in 2011 by Ted Henken, a Cuban digital “scholar” sent from the United States; he of course did not identify truly revolutionary bloggers, but concentrated on those whose ambiguity could make them inclined to respond to repeated invitations to events at embassies and overseas—with increasingly apparent purposes—in Europe and later in the United States itself, and scholarships to universities in Europe and the United States, such as Harvard and Columbia, to create or maintain political and digital media projects in Cuba with funding from these institutions.
In tandem with this, they worked on turning a small group of academics and intellectuals of their liking into media figures. These would serve as the idealogues to organize a “leftist” counterrevolution in Cuba (actually right-wingers in disguise), with a Social Democratic platform that was anti-communist and anti-Fidel, but who initially would not openly act against socialism or the Revolution, or against the State, the Cuban Communist Party (PCC), or other political organizations.
Years later, when U.S. President Barack Obama announced the resumption of diplomatic relations with Cuba on December 17, 2014, he was simply expressing what had been assumed by the CIA at that meeting in May of 2004: the hardline aggressive tactics against Cuba had failed; it was time to achieve the U.S.’s objectives through other means.
This became explicit in the Presidential Policy Directive signed some time later by President Obama, which conspicuously expressed an intent to work with Cuban civil society. The use of that term by a U.S. President for the first time begs the question, “What civil society?” He was obviously not talking about existing public organizations and institutions in Cuba, but rather a virtual civil society (read: neo-counterrevolution) that had been growing on the internet and in social media, initially parallel to Cuban social organizations, but later openly opposed to them, as part of the strategy launched in 2004.
To this end, the United States’ plans, including funding from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and USAID, placed Cuba on the list of countries in which the Open Society Foundations operate. OSF, created by billionaire George Soros, organizes group projects that use social causes and human rights to work toward the overthrow of governments and regime change under the romantic name of “color revolutions.” Its track record includes Eastern European countries such as Serbia, Georgia, Ukraine, and Belarus, as well as the so-called Arab Spring and leftist processes in Latin America. Open Society does not act alone; it is part and parcel of the United States agenda to interfere in other countries.
Open society would also work with the counterrevolution in Venezuela to create the PROVEA project, which the Bolivarian media astutely and quickly exposed.
In the case of Cuba, in 2014 they organized what they called the Cuba Posible Ideas Lab, a website financed by Open Society and other U.S. entities, camouflaged by the popular debate and self-criticism promoted by the Cuban government itself during the exercise to draft and implement Guidelines to update the economic model. They also took advantage of the easing of tensions and improved relations between the island nation and the United States by organizing events within and outside Cuba.
Cuba Posible is structured as “programs” that revolve around certain themes, such as “Agora y Fraternidad,” which seeks to draw in Cuban intellectuals that are interested in historical, legislative, or diplomatic issues. They also attract people interested in such social causes as racism, feminism, gender equality, sexual rights, and the protection of animals. The intent is to encourage them to turn against the PCC and demand multiple political parties (consistent with the US strategy). One of the directors of Cuba Posible told Reuters that their objective was to push for “a transitional change in Cuba toward a multiparty system.”
The members must stay away from hardline counterrevolutionaries in both their personal relations and their discourse, while publicly distancing themselves from government institutions and organizations aligned with the ideology of the revolution. Regarding the latter, they would try to plant the idea of “Stalinist” and “conservative” sectors that are supposedly obstructing transformation within the leadership of the Party and the government, as well as normalization of relations between Cuba and the United States. They bolster a narrative of “a sector afraid of losing power,” and mix that with Cuba’s own legitimate criticisms of its bureaucracy, technocrats, and corruption. They seek to intertwine this in people’s minds with any ideological defense of the revolution, while they satanize anti-imperialism and any mention of Fidel and his thinking, to create an aversion to it, especially among young people. This allows them to pass themselves off as a “third way,” the ideological center that is as far from the aggressive “extreme right” of Miami as it is from Fidel’s thinking about the Cuban Revolution which is depicted as the “extreme left.” The international corporate media—in addition to Radio Martí and TV Martí—would support them, as they did, calling them a “new political force” and fostering their development.
In this regard, the aggression displayed during the Trump administration and the discourse against the Revolution by media figures with all their despicable intentions, is all part of the plan and not a departure from it. As an irrational and sickening counterrevolution appeared to be gaining strength, the neo-counterrevolution could be depicted as an alternative that the Cubans would find preferable. The plan is for Cubans, faced with the aggressiveness of the other party, to accept a counterrevolution that speaks of “dialogue” and “tolerance” and give it more space. These are not two different strategies but rather a single strategy that plays one off the other. The sponsors and organizers are the same people. U.S. [intelligence] agencies operate independently from the political ups and downs of that country. In fact, they take advantage of them.
President Díaz-Canel has stated this before the National Assembly, “The leaders” of “The Laboratory” appear to be far removed from violence; they disguise themselves as peaceful political negotiators and try to impose their agenda, betting on social upheaval if their demands are not met.”
In order to mount a neo-counterrevolution and give it a media presence on the internet, they organized a system of digital media—which they falsely portrayed as “independent”—aimed at those sectors, taking advantage of gaps in the state-run media. That is how the system of Cuban-American digital publishing (Cuban staff with U.S. funding) was able to systematically poison its audience in order to dominate and instigate on such issues as the process to legalize independent film companies, or Decree 349 for culture—areas in which the government-run media had almost no presence, which made it a walk in the park for these media outlets.
However, they did not succeed when it came to the process to amend the Constitution, which was heavily covered in the Cuban press, meaning that the new media would have had to influence large segments of the population. When faced with this overwhelming obstacle, they limited themselves to saying there was apathy in the population, which was proven false by the high voter turnout and approval of the Constitution.
During that period, the members of Cuba Posible included on their website a draft of the Constitution that eliminated the PCC and socialism. The 86% of votes in favor of the referendum blew away that maneuver.
From the very beginning several revolutionary Cuban intellectuals warned of the counterrevolutionary intent behind this “centrism,” stating that was the true objective of the new digital press, including U.S. media accredited in Cuba. But those same media outlets rushed to state that simply using the term “counterrevolutionary” reflected “paranoia.” They demonized this term and whoever dared to use it was quickly attacked, demonized, and lynched on social media. The purpose of such lynchings, which continue to occur and have extended to journalists in the Cuban Television Information System in recent days, continues to be that no one should dare to denounce the imperialist strategy behind the neo-counterrevolution.
In 2019 the members of Cuba Posible themselves announced that they were disbanding, alleging that the diplomatic setbacks under the Trump administration made it too difficult for them to operate. That fact is that from 2017 to 2018 Cuba Posible was never able to recruit truly renowned Cuban intellectuals. It was unable to create an atmosphere of resistance to the Constitutional reforms, and its veiled right-wing counterrevolutionary nature was vigorously denounced in social media by revolutionaries who were not cowed by the prospect of getting lynched.
Starting in 2017 several members left Cuba Posible—either of their own initiative or upon instructions to not “get burned” once its foreign funding and intentions became increasingly apparent. The Americans are quick learners and apply their lessons, which leaves no doubt that they decided to deconcentrate their neo-counterrevolutionary forces in order to preserve the “ideological cadre” they had trained through a project that was ever more publicly discredited as its ties to Open Society became obvious. After it was formally dissolved, the members of Cuba Posible have continued to work in tandem and today they are the idealogues and coordinators keeping the attempted soft coup of last November active.
One thing you can say about Anglo-Saxon pragmatism is that it understands the time factor of productivity. This is even more true when it comes to investments. During the aforementioned 2004 meeting, the incubation period for this neo-counterrevolution to go into effect was estimated at 15 years, which is right where we are now. This timeline means that the neo-counterrevolution, cultivated intensively in sectors or isolated bubbles on social media, could begin to call for actions outside of the virtual space—that is in the streets through demonstrations. It had to be ready to take advantage of any situation that might pose an opportunity, and get truly honest people to contribute unwittingly even though they do not at all share the ultimate goal. These are people who may be moved by sensitivities or disagreement over issues such as art censorship, tolerance of diverse ways of thinking, rights of the LGBTIQ+ community, animal welfare, or gender violence.
The “independent” digital media would also be ready to create conditions to compound and manipulate, magnify their demonstrations, and promote their events through the media.
The ripening point that the CIA agents at that long-ago 2004 meeting aspired to is the moment when a significant number of such people, who are still today disconnected from each other, could be mobilized, not for their own events, but for widely supported mass protests. It required an event sufficiently unique to get them into the streets, but also sufficiently general and abstract so that it could be promoted as defense of the right to “think differently” or “freedom of thought,” tolerance, etc. in order to create an initially peaceful and attractive atmosphere of celebration and rebellion, which would bring out a larger number of different kinds of people—regardless of whether they support the underlying intentions.
The next objective would be deliberately incited episodes of violence at the protests, between the demonstrators and the police authorities on the scene who might lose control over the situation. That is where the videos come in, the ones promoted by the digital media in charge of exacerbating tensions in real time, with the voices of individuals at the Ministry of Culture. They were instigating people to try to get past the police at all costs by yelling, “They have the weapons, not us!” And the resulting possibly tragic episodes, which fortunately did not occur, would serve to draw people out for the ensuing demonstrations, which would no longer be over the original grievance, but rather “against the repression” that had occurred, and then “against the violence,” and on and on and on until the demonstrators themselves forgot the original reason for the protests. But the authorities were clear about why they were demonstrating, even if they were not at the beginning, because it was a process similar to what occurred during the protests at Maidan Square in Ukraine. This is the script of a color revolution. Publication of the video by one of these digital media outlets was certainly a slip-up by their editors, perhaps intoxicated by the moment.
Thanks to information provided by the official media we know that many people who initially sympathized with the demands of the so-called “San Isidro Movement” (whose role in the Cuban script is to create a climate of “just because you complain doesn’t make you a counterrevolutionary,” and “we need dialogue”), got spooked when they saw who would benefit from it. During the large demonstration at Trillo Park, and also through chats, I was able to speak to several good people who went to the Ministry of Culture because they were moved by the protests. However, once they had all the information that came out later, they felt that their proper role as conscientious and critical people is to support the Revolution as was done at Trillo Park, and not the counterrevolution. There was an attempt to legitimize the latter before Cuban society at the start of events at the Ministry of Culture by supporting those who were faking a hunger strike in San Isidro. It is now clear that this was a performance aided and abetted by the U.S. government and its embassy in Cuba. More than 10 posts on its official Facebook page and videos confirm this.
This consciousness-raising would not have been possible without the information provided in the media. Cuban TV and press exposed the truth, which has left only incorrigible counterrevolutionaries and irredeemably shameless people defending the farce.
But the neo-counterrevolution had become accustomed to the Cuban State media staying mum about it.
For this reason, when information began to come out exposing the ties between individuals, their actions, the funded projects, and counterrevolutionary digital media, they became highly alarmed—particularly those who had spent years mounting this neo-counterrevolution. They objected and cried victim when NTV exposed their true nature and stripped it of its camouflage by revealing a former university professor to be a participant and legal advisor, and when the newspaper Granma published a photo of their smiling faces at a Cuba Posible event at Open Society’s headquarters in New York.
In recent days they have begun a legal attempt to use the very Constitution which they lobbied against to get the system of justice to stop Cuban Television and NTV from reporting on them, and to get Granma and the rest of the press, as well as the websites and video channels of Cuban institutions, to take down articles, comments, and programs on the internet that expose Cuba Posible. One might suppose they would do the same against Telesur. They allege a supposed violation of their personal dignity, and say that showing documents and images that they themselves created which link them to counterrevolutionary events constitutes “defamation.”
But what were they thinking? That the revolutionary media would stand by with its arms folded for the good of Cuba Posible and its American sponsors?
This is not the first time they have manifested their intent to negate the capacity of the revolutionary media. In their proposed Constitutional text in 2018 they sought to prohibit Cuban political organizations from having publicly disseminated media. In other words, the PCC would have to shut down Granma, the Young Communist League should cancel Juventud Rebelde, and the Workers Central Union should stop publishing the paper Trabajadores. In their perfect Cuba, the Federation of Cuban Women, the Asociación Hermanos Saíz of young musicians, and the Cuban Student Federation would be banned from having publications. But that would not actually be necessary, because in their perfect Cuba such organizations would not exist.
Nor is this the first time that the imported script they try to perform in Cuba has used sign-on letters as calls for justice to attract signatures, including from people who may believe they are acting in good faith and not in support of the soft coup strategy which, as the President said, “remains active.” The intent behind a legal claim and the construction of an identity that we have witnessed in recent days against the Cuban media, harkens back to “Charter 77,” a document promoted by Czech anticommunists which demanded that the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia “respect human rights” and give space to its activities during the 1980s. According to research done by American journalist Wayne Madsen and reprinted in Russia Today, George Soros, creator of Open Society, funded the group that generated Charter 77, which acted under intellectual cover to conspire against the Czechoslovakian government, in the style of Cuba Posible. This group later became Charter 77 Foundation, still with Open Society funding but with additional funds from the NED and other CIA front groups. At the same time that these funds were financing acts of terrorism such as attacks on Czech Communist Party offices, the members of Charter 77 presented themselves as the “preferred” alternative. Perhaps too similar to the script they are trying to reproduce today in Cuba?
Collecting signatures against government-run media may trick some people of good will into thinking that it is just a request to respect people’s right to protect their image. Nothing could be further from the truth. The people behind it are the same ones who have been cheering if not directly participating in the daily lynchings by the Miami media apparatus of intellectuals, artists, and journalists who do not share their ideas. It is in fact a continuation—in intellectual disguise—of the recent lynchings of Cuban Television journalists.
It is important for people be aware of this so they cannot be fooled or manipulated. This is the kind of coordination we have seen in recent days. It is an old, imported script with new actors, this time in a tropical setting and against the Cuban Revolution. It seeks to take advantage of the health emergency and an extremely difficult economic situation with a performance whose cast is now complete. What they are now looking for to defend and justify this piece of theater, whose staging is unraveling more every day, are extras and distractions to hide the real protagonists.
Translated by Jill Clark-Gollub. Original Los ideólogos del golpe blando: Open Society en Cuba y la articulación contrarrevolucionaria | Cubadebate.