Monday, July 6, 2015
With respect to Cuba: Is Obama Guileful, Duped or a Dim Bulb?
By Jerry Brewer
An interview with Pedro Riera Escalante, a cashiered former Cuban spymaster now living in exile, as regards to U.S.-Cuba
On July 1, President Barack Obama formally announced that the United States and Cuba have agreed to open embassies
in each other’s capitals.
President Obama stated, "This is a historic step forward in our efforts to normalize
relations with the Cuban government and people and begin a new chapter with our neighbors in the Americas."
He continued to
say that, "later this summer Secretary (John) Kerry will travel to Havana formally to proudly raise the American flag
over our embassy once more.” He did acknowledge somewhat contritely that, "Not everyone is on board with the U.S.-Cuba
In announcing his own trip, Secretary of State John Kerry stated: “This will mark the resumption of embassy
operations after a period of 54 years. It will also be the first visit by a Secretary of State to Cuba since 1945. The reopening
of our embassy, I will tell you, is an important step on the road to restoring fully normal relations between the United States
and Cuba. Coming a quarter of a century after the end of the Cold War, it recognizes the reality of the changed circumstances,
and it will serve to meet a number of practical needs.”
While this controversial hype on establishing a new era in
U.S.-Cuba relations sounds promising, there is much history and a factual basis to believe that the players in this agreement
may have easily duped each other and created a false sense of security by quite possibly ignoring the intelligence and true
motives of a knee-jerk and intentionally weak quid pro quo agreement.
Perhaps much of this naïveté and public
doubt can simply relate to John Kerry’s recent remarks, when he said that, “The resumption of full embassy activities
will help us engage the Cuban government more often and at a higher level, and it will also allow our diplomats to interact
more frequently, and frankly more broadly and effectively, with the Cuban people.”
The decades of oppression and violence,
as well as civil and human rights violations, by Cuba's Castro regime against its people, plus the failed economic system
and misery caused by forced Communist doctrine, can most certainly create sincere doubt that the Cuban citizenry will not
continue to be intensely controlled and monitored. Nor will the door to capitalism see the light of day on the distressed
island, as evidenced by the record of documented statements by both of the Castro brothers on these subjects.
A U.S. embassy
on the island will be a convenient means for Cuba’s aggressive and savvy security apparatchik and spy services to keep
close tabs on issues of interest, and to isolate and contain U.S. diplomatic movement by intense overt security and covert
Pedro Riera Escalante served the Castro regime as part of Cuban intelligence for nearly 24 years (1969-1993); in
Mexico City, under the guise of a diplomat, from 1986-1991. Riera was the Group Chief of Section Q-1, in charge of operations
against the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
He was placed there, at the highest level of Fidel Castro’s government, via the head
of the General Directorate of Intelligence, or DGI (today Directorate of Intelligence, DI), General of Division Luis Barreiro
Carames; and after a proposal by Brigadier General Matos Ezequiel Suarez, 2nd Chief of Intelligence for foreign counterintelligence.
told this interviewer: “I was sent to develop and implement the same methodology that was developed for the recruitment
of CIA officers, which had been approved as the official doctrine for (Soviet/Cuban) Intelligence.”
Riera eventually denounced
the Fidel Castro dictatorship and was imprisoned. He called for a shift towards respect for human rights and democracy, before,
during and after his sentence to prison in Cuba. His revelations of his orders from Cuba, and his actions in the secret war
that has pitted Cuba versus the U.S. for decades in intelligence and espionage tradecraft, reveal a continuing process of
Cuban subversion in this hemisphere.
Brewer: “What was the mission and importance of the Cuban DGI intelligence service
during the period of your service?”
Pedro Riera Escalante (PRE): “The first priority of the DGI, from 1969 through 1993,
was penetration and opposition to the United States government and the CIA.
“In my opinion it continues right now. The United
States was always considered the main enemy, and the policy of Fidel Castro was to maintain, at all costs, the confrontation
and to prevent normalization of relations, this insofar as having a powerful foreign enemy served Castro to justify his economic
failures and his foreign policy of supporting guerrilla movements in other countries.
“At one of the previous times, when they
were close to the resumption of relations with Cuba, during the administration of Gerald Ford, Castro in late 1975 broke off
[talks] due to the Cuban military intervention in Angola. In 1977, with the entry of Cuban troops in Ethiopia, again the process
that was developing with Jimmy Carter ground to a halt. During the Reagan administration Cuba's military expansion accelerated
in Angola, Ethiopia, Nicaragua, and El Salvador.
“The facts prove that during most of the years since 1959 the policy of Cuban military
intervention in different parts of the world has been the principal obstacle for the normalization of relations between the
“Now, thanks to President Obama closing his eyes to Cuban intervention in Venezuela and internal repression
against democratic opponents and dissidents in Cuba, what has been conceded completely is that the United States has accomplished
the restoration of diplomatic relations.
“In all those years the mission of the DGI, until 1968, was to train [and] support
guerrillas and urban guerrilla movements materially and politically in most countries where they existed.
"From 1968 to 1975,
the Department of National Liberation was separated from the DGI [and] charged with support to guerrillas in different parts
of the world, under the command of Comandante Manuel Piñeiro.
“The missions of the DGI, with respect to the United States
from 1969 to 1989, were developed by three sub-leaderships … and military intelligence, they being charged with penetrating
the United States government, first the State Department, embassies, universities, media, [and] diplomatic mediums in Washington
and New York. In 1985, it may have been (Cuba's military intelligence) that recruited the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency
official, Ana Belen Montes.
“[Two DGI] sectional departments, Q-1 and Q-2, [were] in charge of work against the CIA. The
first with three directorates, subdivided into sections: penetration of CIA headquarters by infiltration or the introduction
of agents recruited at universities and directed to join the CIA; penetration in third countries; [and] harassment operations
dedicated to propaganda and psychological war against the CIA, therein a fundamental pillar was the former CIA officer and
Cuban intelligence agent Philip Agee, who died in 2008.
“There were also other former officers, like John Stockwell, the ex-chief of station of the CIA in Angola during
the war; [and] Phil Roettinger, a CIA officer who played an important role in Guatemala in 1954, who died in 2002.
from Cuba’s leadership, I contacted Phil Roettinger during my time in Mexico approximately between the years 1988-1990,
and traveled to the city of San Miguel de Allende and visited him at home in order to coordinate his activities and a trip
to Cuba with a group of senior officials of the CIA and the armed forces, supporters of improving relations with Cuba.
Since the 80s the DGI had two important programs to influence government policy of the United States towards Cuba. (…) The Section
responsible for the United States was directed to contact, recruit and use State Department officials, journalists and prominent
personalities in different mediums in order to exert influence actions on the United States government in favor of improving
relations with Cuba.
"Moreover, Section Q-1 was in charge of harassment [and] directed to denounce CIA plans and reveal the identity
of CIA officers through the actions of Philip Agee and his publication Covert Action and a group of disgruntled CIA officers who travelled to Cuba and took action or did publications favorable to
the interests of Cuban Intelligence.
"[Several] wrote books revealing information, means and methods of the CIA, violating
their contracts with the CIA, which were used in some manner by Philip Agee or the DGI, directly or indirectly, consciously
"I attended to Philip Agee in Cuba during the years 1974 and 1975, to advise and support him in developing his
book ‘Inside the Company: CIA Diary,’ and later I contacted him in late 1989 when his book became the centerpiece
of the ‘Moncada’ operation, aimed at recruiting the secretary of the CIA's deputy chief of station [in Mexico
City]. [Information from that first contact] revealed data on the most important counterintelligence operation carried out
by the Station in order to recruit a Cuban intelligence officer; the facts I knew subsequently allowed me to verify that the
information was true and the operation continued, and finally allowed intelligence heads to take preventive measures with
the implicated Cuban intelligence officers.
"Double agent Donato Poveda located in the Office of Merchant Marines in Tokyo in 1974-1976
provide misinformation to the CIA on troops and military equipment being transported on Cuban civilian ships into battle in
the war in Angola.”
BREWER: “How much of this was the doctrine of Russia and their collaboration?”
PRE: “They developed and initiated special
espionage tradecraft and operations for Cuban officials with access to information from interests of the CIA located in Cuban
missions abroad that were directed so that the CIA would recruit [them] to misinform, know their means and methods, and study
and engage officers that they attended in order to recruit them. In early 1976 I received the task to draft the first tradecraft
methodology for the DGI, for which I was provided records of all tradecraft developed empirically or with basic past concepts;
advice from the KGB was an important leg-up in the work, we considered Soviet Intelligence our teachers.
Section Chief of tradecraft of the KGB, along with Colonel Pavel Yatzcov, lectured me several times on Soviet methodology….
From the notes I took during these conferences, and analyses of the four most important [operations] developed to that date
by Cuban intelligence, in Japan, Spain and Mexico. I compiled the first methodology. “The first two
successes of the new methodology were the projections and recruiting so that the CIA would recruit [two] agents.
The CIA harassment work
developed with Philip Agee was prepared in coordination and with the support of the KGB.”
“What do you think of the mutual opening of embassies between Cuba and the U.S.?”
PRE: “First of all, the reciprocal opening
of embassies benefits the Cuban government and hurts the Cuban people's struggle for the democratization of the country.
It can benefit U.S. sectors and entrepreneurs interested in the Cuban market. But by no means is this opening and the development
of tourism going to produce an impact that helps the democratization of the country, insofar as what the government has done
has been to intensify repression, which is going to increase its income and strengthen it in order to be able to repress better.
"And I want to
point out that this statement is made not because I believe the embargo should continue, and that relations should not be
normalized. I have always been in favor of these, but with conditions that guarantee the Cuban people will truly benefit and
on a base of real democratic opening and not one of trickery.
"Fidel Castro and Raul have said in years past that, when the
hostile policy of the United States would end and relations normalized, the relationship could bring about openings in Cuba,
but none of this has happened. To the contrary, repression has intensified, they have changed their ways of great trials and
convictions to brief detentions, but all of the repressive system continues intact and will be strengthened in order to have
total control over the new North American diplomats that arrive in the country.”
BREWER: “Do you think that Cuban espionage
will proliferate in the US with their new embassy on U.S. soil?”
PRE: "As is known, espionage is a state policy, and
it will continue, they might be more careful, but it will be perfected.
"Moreover, in recent years the degree of penetration
of Cuban intelligence within the US government is very high. As well, I am convinced that after years the fruits of dozens
of agents who were recruited while studying at universities in order to later penetrate the CIA and the State Department must
have harvested fruits. When I contacted the CIA in Mexico in 1999 and 2000, to seek political asylum, the CIA counterintelligence
officials were convinced that they had a spy within the CIA and it was not the case of Ana Belen Montes in the Defense Intelligence Agency.
"My opinion is that Ana Belen Montes was used in a very risky way, putting her life
at risk in order to exert favorable influence towards Cuba's in the US government, but Ana Belen did not belong to the
those agents within the US government and the CIA should have provided valuable information so that Raul Castro would have
firsthand information and impose his principles in the negotiations with Obama."
BREWER: “Do you think Cuba will end/curtail
surveillance/monitoring of the new US embassy in Cuba?"
PRE: “Of course the current monitoring will be increased. All
Cuban personnel now working in the Interests Section work for Cuban State Security. All housing for officials may have microphones
and other devices installed. All records of refugees that have been and are being processed are first reviewed by Cuban personnel
who are security agents that [give] detailed information to officials.”
BREWER: “Is Cuba's mission in Venezuela a threat
to the US and Venezuela, and other democracies in the Americas?”
PRE: “The Government of Venezuela is acting in full
coordination with the Cuban government. Its repressive bodies and armed forces are under the control of Cuban officials. Venezuela
is not a danger to the United States today, but it could become one; in these times it is a government in a situation that
poses a danger for having brought the nation's economy to crisis, and it is losing more popular support on a daily basis.
"They have established
a very effective repressive system to weaken the opposition and impede them from reaching government office. Castro will guarantee
oil and revenue in Venezuelan dollars at all costs; supporting these with all his intelligence resources in order to keep
President [Nicolas] Maduro in power, or the generals who remain loyal to Castro in case of crisis.
"The danger to the United States is how
far will it allow the Cuban government and Cuban intelligence in Venezuela to continue giving orders to repress its people;
in this lies the danger. As well, how far will Maduro go in his military alliance with Russia?"
BREWER: “Any comments or warnings to the
U.S. on this diplomatic interaction between the U.S. and Cuba?”
PRE: “The image and foreign policy of the United States have
apparently improved, with President Obama defining his new policy of establishing relations and rejecting the politics of
aggression and pressure that were ineffective; and his position against the embargo.
has acted in accordance with Castro and his interests, but against the legitimate interests of the Cuban people, the facts
will demonstrate that the Castro regime will not stay in power forever, and in the present and future it will show that this
regime will not change its dictatorial essence as long as the Castro brothers are in power, even while the United States has
changed its policy and even eliminated the embargo.
"Obama, apparently, must have been tranquilized by Raul Castro's promise that he
will not continue to rule when his current mandate ends, but he will guarantee that his may persist even after, like what
happened in China after the death of Mao; and with normal relations with the US, the struggle of the Cuban people for freedom
and democracy will be more repressed, difficult and painful.
"I am confident that the US Congress will make the best decisions,
so that the embargo will be lifted only after Raul Castro eliminates the embargo on the rights and freedoms of the Cuban people.
The embargo was unproductive and it was an erroneous policy that punished the Cuban people, but after so much time it would
be more erroneous and more punishing on the Cuban people to suspend it without Raul Castro making a real democratic opening
Jerry Brewer is C.E.O. of Criminal Justice International Associates, a global threat mitigation firm headquartered in northern
Virginia. His website is located at www.cjiausa.org.