[News] The Buying of "Democracy" Agents in Cuba

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Mon May 26 10:38:19 EDT 2008

May 24 / 25, 2008

The Politics of Unequal Exchange

The Buying of "Democracy" Agents in Cuba


"The populace may hiss me, but when I go home and 
think of my money, I applaud myself. "

Horace (c. 25 BC)

"Unequal exchange, as practiced by the conquerors 
with the natives purchasing gold with mirrors, 
marbles and European trinkets, must  cease."

Fidel Castro, 1998

In fiscal year 2008-2009 the United States 
government has budgeted $45,000,000 to finance 
the opposition against the revolutionary 
government in Cuba. The money is used to fund 
rightwing exile organizations, eastern European 
rightwing politicians involved with Cuba and 
money oriented "civil society" promoters. Some of 
the money ends up in Cuba.  The details of such 
counterrevolutionary program is little known by 
the world. The Cubans within the island who 
receive the so-called "assistance" claim to be 
involved in promoting "civil society" and 
"democracy." They maintain that what they are 
doing is not subversive. The official line from 
the United States government is that the money it 
supplies  has a humanitarian intent. The 
recipients, however, are agents of a foreign 
power if we follow US law definitions. [1] It is 
unknown how much money the United States 
government is really spending to bring an end to 
the revolutionary government in Havana. [2]

The videos, photos, documents and phone 
conversation logs transmitted over the Mesa 
Redonda TV program  in Havana during three 
consecutive days (May 19, 20, 21) disclosed some 
of the mechanisms used to provide money payments 
to dissidents via  Marta Beatriz Roque, a sort of 
dissident paymaster/accountant in Havana. She 
describes herself in her emails to rightwing 
exiles and US officials, as Tia McPato (as in the 
Disney character - Aunt Scrooge McDuck. )

The money provided to the "dissidents" seem to be 
mere peanuts, when compared to the total amount 
of money appropriated by the US Congress. Indeed, 
it is obvious, that the "dissidents" provide the 
"cover" for the real entrepreneurs in Florida to 
enrich themselves. One can very well assume that 
if the US AID grants a lump sum of, say, $5 
million to a Miami "democracy promotion 
organization" and then the organization puts the 
money in a bank to get yearly earnings - the 
earnings might be sufficient to finance the 
"dissidents". Miami, of course, will keep the 
lion's share of the grant. And the "grant" [our 
tax dollars at work] will be renewed the 
following years. Both Republicans and Democrats 
in the Congress approve of a "foreign aid" that 
ends up in Coral Gables and the Florida keys.

In a sense, the "dissidents" in the island face 
all the political and economic costs but receive 
very little of the financial benefits - when 
compared to exile “donors.” Granted, a monthly 
payment of $200-1,500 US dollars is certainly 100 
times what the average Cuban earns. Yet, the 
island "dissidents" thank the exile "donors" 
abroad when in fact; the exile entrepreneurs 
should be thanking the "dissidents." Or, to put 
it differently, the "dissidents" are the 
proletarians while the Miami hustlers are the bourgeois employers.

The logic of such political opposition is NOT to 
be too successful in the REAL recruiting of 
thousands of political opponents inside Cuba. To 
do so would be a major logistical and financial 
conundrum - for that success would imply much 
more financial accounting. Rather, the best 
strategy is to CLAIM a lot of political 
proselytizing in order to obtain as much funding from abroad as possible.

The Miami promoters/handlers need the 
"dissidents" but do not want them to get too much 
of a claim over the capital available. This is 
accomplished by obtaining invoices for all 
services rendered. In a sense, this whole 
enterprise moves millions of dollars in Florida 
and elsewhere, but it comes to "penny capitalism" in Havana.

Marta Beatriz Roque distributes an average of 
$200 per "dissident". Thus, if 10 "dissidents"= 
$200x10=$2000; 100 "dissidents", $20,000 and so 
forth. By playing such a role Marta Beatriz Roque 
is not a political "leader" but rather a 
financial "accountant." She knows so and calls 
herself Tia MacPato. How much money she receives 
determines how many people she could, potentially 
recruit. Of course, she could increase the 
monthly payments of those who are already 
recruited. On the other hand, that some of the 
"dissidents" do not seem to get any money 
payment, perhaps behaving on the basis of “moral 
incentives” or not realizing that everyone gets a fee for services rendered.

Interestingly, the money is supplied on a monthly 
basis rather than as a lump sum. Tia McPato would 
like to get lump sums - that would provide her 
with discretionary power. But it will reduce the 
political influence that Miami would have over 
Havana. The one with the money commands. Thus, 
payments are done on a monthly basis - although 
this is a cumbersome logistical mechanism. But it 
is revealing what the method accomplishes:

1. It reminds the recipient of the funds who is 
the boss - that is Santiago Alvarez. 2. It makes 
the recipients financially dependent on a monthly 
basis, which is a form of control: you don’t 
deliver political acts, you don’t get paid. This 
is measured on the basis of the foreign press 
reporting on the actions. 3. The monthly 
payments, delivered by Marta Beatriz, is a form 
of political control. The money payments is a 
tool of political recruitment and a form of 
retainer, from month to month. 4. The monthly 
payments allow the people with the capital in 
Florida (who received the money from the US 
government and other undisclosed sources) to set 
up an account that earns interests. Thus, if AID 
supplies the "non profit" organization in Miami 
with the capital, then the money is put in an interest earning account.

The relationship between the Miami 
promoters/bourgeoisie and the Havana 
"dissident"/proletarians is a very unique 
exchange. Miami has US-government supplied 
financial capital; Havana "dissidents" claim to 
have political capital. The latter is seemingly 
correlated with time served in a Cuban prison or 
openly challenging the Cuban authorities; both 
generate more political capital in the eyes of 
the Miami and Washington DC promoters of 
long-distance "democracy". Those who have been 
arrested or answer to the behest of the US 
Interest Section have a higher exchange value 
than those who do not. Moreover, those who served 
some prison time but do not continue their day to 
day "demonstration politics" then do not get pay 
as much as those who do. Tia McPato who is the 
money distributor among the "dissidents" claims 
the political leadership over the proletarians.

In such a relationship, it becomes imperative for 
the proletarians to try to extort as much from 
the employers abroad. This requires that the 
actions of the "dissidents" be covered by the 
foreign press. ["If a tree falls in a forest and 
no one is around to hear it, does it make a 
sound?"] In other words, political "show and 
tell" is the very stuff of such "demonstration 
politics". No TV time or press headlines, no pay. 
It is imperative, then, to cultivate the foreign 
media stationed in Havana. The foreign media 
plays the part of the stock analyst who keeps the 
market ratings on "dissidence" high. Seemingly, 
the correspondents' job is to tout the market 
value of the "dissidents" whose  stock would be 
worthless if their real value were exposed.

The Cuban government has challenged the US 
government, the foreign media stationed in Cuba, 
or the island's "dissidents" to answer head-on 
the evidence that has been disclosed and the 
substantive charges. It is doubtful that any of 
the players will do so. Meanwhile the commercial 
enterprise called "democracy promotion" will continue.

Perhaps the promotion of democracy should begin 
with exporting to Cuba some legislation from the 
United States.  I propose that our country 
persuade the government in Havana to adopt from 
the US Code 18 U.S.C.A. § 953 [1948] - better known as the Logan Act.

The Act reads in part, "Any citizen of the United 
States, wherever he may be, who, without 
authority of the United States, directly or 
indirectly commences or carries on any 
correspondence or intercourse with any foreign 
government or any officer or agent thereof, with 
intent to influence the measures or conduct of 
any foreign government or of any officer or agent 
thereof, in relation to any disputes or 
controversies with the United States, or to 
defeat the measures of the United States, shall 
be fined under this title or imprisoned not more 
than three years, or both." [3] All that would be 
necessary is for the Cuban government to replace 
the phrase "United States" and include "Republic of Cuba."

Now, that might be an interesting way of furthering democracy.

Nelson P. Valdés is a Professor of Sociology at the University of New Mexico.

This essay was originally published by Cuba-L Analysis.


[1] See the essay by Salim Lamrani: 05/07/08 - 
Rebelión (Madrid) - Las contradicciones de Amnistia Internacional.

[2] There is a concurrent effort, also financed 
by the United States government, to prepare the 
"transition teams" that will be sent once the 
Cuban revolutionary regime is overthrown. Just on 
May 8th, 2008 AID requested proposals to the tune 
of $30 million from five US corporations who have 
been involved in such "transitions" elsewhere. 
Source:  AID email, May 8, 2008 entitled: 

[3] See: U.S. Code, Title 19, Part I, Chapter 45, § 953

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