After Yoani’s statement regarding the embargo a few days ago in which she chose to echo Castroite propaganda by using the word “blockade,” a heated discussion ensued on this blog and others. On one side of the debate there were those that came to her defense, proclaiming that Yoani’s dissident credentials were unquestionable and no one outside of Cuba had a right to challenge them. On the other side, you had those that expressed the opinion that Yoani could actually be an agent for the regime, going just far enough in her postings to give the impression of dissidence, but stopping short of out and out dissent. Then there were those in the middle, like myself, who do not believe that Yoani is a Castro agent, but who also do not believe that her statements are immune from criticism.
Although I personally do not believe this to be the case, I do believe that the notion that Yoani might be a regime plant is not out of the question. Considering the Cuban dictatorship’s well-funded, resourceful, and efficient intelligence apparatus, no conspiracy theory is beyond possibility. One only needs to look at agents such as Juan Pablo Roque and the members of the WASP Network to see how far the regime is willing to go and how good they can be at counterintelligence.
But don’t take my word for it; I’m just a blogger from Miami that has been poisoned by the intransigent Cuban exile community. I can offer, however, the expert opinion of Cuba expert extraordinaire, Phil Peters, who had this to say about Cuban counterintelligence in a recent article he penned for ForeignPolicy.com:
Foreigners who phone or visit dissidents can expect to be observed. Moreover, “dissidents” aren’t always who they seem — indeed, Cuba’s Department of State Security (DSS) not only monitors anti-government activists, but also manufactures some. Agents pose as opponents of the regime and infiltrate opposition organizations. When 75 dissidents were jailed after lightning trials in 2003, the DSS happily unmasked 12 of its phony dissidents, publishing interviews and then a book about their undercover exploits.
One, Odilia Collazo, claimed to have suffered an act of violent repression in 1997; the “independent journalist” Nestor Baguer (in fact, an agent of the state) reported Collazo’s mistreatment to the world. U.S. Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) then denounced the human rights abuse. Another Cuban agent, Manuel David Orrio, organized a seminar for “independent” journalists in 2003 in the stately home of the top U.S. diplomat in Havana at the time, James Cason. Others worked in lower-profile positions where they could observe foreign contacts and aid.
As the world-renowned Cuba expert Phil Peters makes painfully clear, there exists the distinct possibility that any dissident on the island may in fact be an agent for the regime. This does not imply that Yoani is indeed a Castro plant, but it does imply that it is not beyond the realm of possibility.
Notwithstanding the opinion of the accomplished and respected expert of all things Cuban, Phil Peters, I still do not believe that Yoani is an agent of the dictatorship pulling the wool over the world’s eyes. But then again, I’m just one of those intransigent Cuban-Americans in Miami: What the hell do I know? Perhaps I should just defer to the “Cuba experts.”