Is Yoani a Castro agent?

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

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.”

31 thoughts on “Is Yoani a Castro agent?”

  1. Though we cannot eliminate the possibility that Yoani might be a Castro agent, actually I don’t believe that is the case. But like most Cubans born after 1959 and indoctrinated by the communist system, we must remember that her opinions have been formed by the disinformation and historical distorsions that Cuban education inculcates in each and every one of their students. Despite her access to the internet and being better informed than many, she still suffers from the propaganda conditioning of a lifetime. The same holds true for many other dissidents.

  2. My opinion is that if she’s a castro agent, then whoever created her “legend” made a huge mistake because she’s pointing out the absurdity of life in castro’s Cuba to left-leaning (anti-American) audiences that never saw things that way before.

  3. It’s not far-fetched. It is within the realm of possibility of having regime plants. Panfilo, for instance, I believe, is a Castro agent whose sole purpose is to drag dissidents (or whoever will agree with his rants) out of hiding places so the regime can snatch them up. Yoani, is suspicious, but then again, how many Cubans do we have in the US that are lefties? Castro agent, maybe. Yoani might very well be a trojan horse. Infiltrate, gain sympathy, gain support, get people to agree, change minds. And little do we know, we’re lifting embargos, doing business with the Castros, and then we’re all “What the hell just happened?”

  4. Another excellent and thought provoking port Alberto!

    While Yoani may be pointing out the absurdity of life in Cuba under a totalitarian regime for 50+ years to the left-leaning (anti-American) audiences, this audience fails to see that the misery and absurdity are a direct result of the type of government in the island prison. IMO, because of their prejudices, they turn around and their take from Yoani’s posts reinforces their opinion that the USA and its evil “embargo” are the root/cause of the tribulations for Cubans … we don’t see any articles at the Huffington Post asking for a change in Cuba in the way of a democratic system or support for dissidents like Biscet, etc. … instead, we see plenty of calls to end the evil “embargo”!

    I wish you well 🙂 Melek

    “Idealism without acceptance of Reality, is the pentacle of mental deficiency.” ~ Unknown

  5. You’ll never see HuffPo fans + posters call for an end of the dictatorship, Melek. Those people over there are hard core kool-aid drinkers and drones, as Levin calls them: incurable and impossible to persuade. All their outrage is aimed at the embargo, not at the root of the embargo.

    Agree with Henry that YS is probably not an agent b/c there are too many things about her that don’t add up; but whatever service she is rendering for the cause, we should be grateful, always keeping that watchful eye. If she is indeed a red menace, time will expose it. She’s gotten heat, that’s true, but she hasn’t gotten roasted yet. Let’s hope it never gets to that point, but usually it’s the heat that brings out true character. Frankly, I’m more concerned about the safety of other bloggers in Cuba who are very good and do not get much exposure.

  6. Sorry guys but this is simply insane.

    There are a lot of Castro’s agents infiltrated in the Cuban opposition both in Cuba and in Miami. One of their functions is to sow mistrust and fear amongst the opposition. It is inevitable that the thought “is Fulano a Castro agent” crosses anybodies mind at some point. And you don’t even have a freedom fighter to go through that. Everyone who doesn’t like the regime has those thoughts.

    What is truly crazy is to publicly discuss whether Yoani is a Castro agent WITHOUTH A SHRED evidence. This is exactly what the regime wants. If she is against the embargo, you can have an argument about that but from there to insinuate that she is G2 is just awful.

    Put yourselves in her shoes. Someone could speculate whether any of you is a Castro agent and I think you wouldn’t like it and worse wouldn’t have a way to prove them wrong.

  7. Sorry Eddy,

    But their is evidence as some of Joanis’s statements and actions are what makes some of us suspect that she could be a Castro agent.

    It is irrefutable evidence?

    Absolutely not, as time will only tell who’s the real Joani (in the meantime I still hold on to my suspicions).

  8. Cuban agent or not, just as 99.9% of the Cuban masses(excluding the imprisoned political opposition), Yoani Sanchez is not a buttress of the United States; she does not view the United States as a guiding beacon of light, nor as an omniscient bastion for democracy. Do not for one second believe the United States has not been a detriment to her way of life in her eyes. Nor will she ever identify with any Cuban-American, especially not the retinue of hardliners. (She is liable to spit in their faces.)The words, “Abajo Con Fidel,” will never be written by her. But, in all honesty, what can one expect from a Cuban with a name that starts with the letter “Y”? It is a matter of unadulterated enculturation of the masses–a subjugation she was not suspended from, as much as we wish to believe.

    Nevertheless, she has played a pivotal and gallant role in her front-line reporting on the Cuban plight–some of which she undoubtedly blames the United States for. She may challenge the malfeasance of government officials and political ideologies upheld and imposed by the regime, and though she may remain resolute in her rebellion, the United States does not hold a warm place in her heart. Like the MAJORITY of Cubans currently living on the island, the word “gusano” resonates within the masses.

    Yoani does not identify herself as a capitalist, rather a liberator of her people through non-violent means. And do not for one second believe that she thinks she has the masses eating from her palm. As always, I find myself asking not when will the Cuban government falter, but when will the Cuban masses uprise? When will the boisterous minority like Zapata overcome the majority? When will this sea-change take place? This is a question we have all been asking for so many years.

  9. Eduardo:

    As Val just mentioned, I’m afraid you have missed the point of my post. Perhaps I should have been more direct, but I have no doubt that those who I intended to address with this post certainly got my point.

    I think I made it very clear that I do not think Yoani is a Castro agent. And I also made it very clear that a certain segment of the public who jumps at every chance to attack the Cuban exile community is acting quite duplicitous.

    That segment, which is partly made up of so-called “Cuba Experts,” feigns outrage at those in the exile community that have the audacity to suggest that Yoani just might not be the person everyone thinks she is. At the same time, however, they also say the US government shouldn’t be supporting dissidents on the island because the Castro regime is known for sending agents in to pose as dissidents.

  10. “When will the boisterous minority like Zapata overcome the majority? ”

    When this happens, Cuba will be free from the Castro tyranny.

  11. I am going to play Devil’s Advocate for a second:

    – It is very possible to have those feelings in Cuba, and still oppose the regime. Even as connected with the outside as Yoani is, she is still missing many parts of the picture, many stories, testimonies, etc. I know, I had similar feelings, and you may find a lot of “recién llegados” (just arrived) with them as well. It takes time, years, actually, for Cubans like me, who grew up down there, to truly understand the situation in Cuba; to get the “entire picture”. Contradictory? No. Paradoxical? Absolutely.

    – Yoani’s trying to please her audience. She’s trying to convince them that she is not like “those people in Miami”. Why? Because without any reason or very little of it, many in Europe (including a large group of Cubans there) have a terrible image of the Miami Exilio (not to mention “el Exilio Histórico”. Now, the “históricos” also have some responsibility on it because many times they have railed against those still in the island without really offering a clear tetimony of their suffering and tribulations. They have done that over airwaves that can be heard in Cuba. For a few years from ’91 to ’93, some Miami radio stations could be heard clearly in Havana on AM frequencies. I was horrified sometimes about some of the opinions in the open mics. I felt it was an attack on me. I had no clue what was behind those voices, how many tears, how much blood.

    -Yoani belongs to the same group of people I belonged to in Cuba: the iconoclasts. We didn’t want to be like anyone else, or we pretended not to be. We were against everyone with an established opinion. I have grown up, but in a country where finding food and staying out of prison occupy 80% of your time, it is hard to grow up.

    I am not justifying anyone. This is just my opinion as a former part of that same group of people where she is in now.

  12. ElcubanitoKC,

    The funny part of it is that when I was young and lived in Cuba before I left in 1972 I understood the pain of the “exilio historico” as they were the victim of Castro’s firing squats and prisons.

    I was fully aware(even in those days) of the Castro regime atrocities as they executed and imprisoned way too many people without due process as I did not fall victim to the Castro brainwashing process on the Cuban people that was taking place in those days.

  13. Yes, but you left in 1972 when things were still more openly discussed and known, and you knew people whose relatives had been killed. They either left of became pariahs in Cuba, people you never wanted to be seen talking to under penalty of losing the few things you had. Things changed for my generation. I had no idea who was Boitel until I lived in Miami. I had no idea of where the people of Sandino in Pinar del Río came.
    In the ’70s and ’80s, the regime had complete control of information. I was born in the 1970s, and grew up in the 1980s. The only other partial information I had was from the radio stations that my mother used to listen on her shortwave radio (made in the SFRY). Not everyone did the same.

  14. Good points,ecKC. Must add that it’s often tough for those of us raised/born here to have a good handle on the history that precedes us, to be knowledgeable of the machinations of the regime since it came into power; it’s a lot easier, I suppose, to reject the idea people could be so cruel (as with Zapata + Boitel) or utterly devoted to create havoc (Angola, El Salvador, et al). That’s the problem with the ivory tower mind that thinks that ruthlessness only exists in WWII history books.

    The original post mentions JP Roque; now there’s a sinister figure. I remember Roque when he first arrived at church –looked ordinary enough; attended our functions; appeared to be paying attn. [now we know better]; acted the part of a good guy flawlessly after his marriage. Oscar-caliber performance, for sure. These are the kinds of things we’re up against. While it’s wrong to accuse without the evidence, it is naive to believe that all dissidents know what we know and see things as we see them. IMHO.

  15. Here’s the bottom line, my friends:

    There is more than just 90 miles of ocean between Cubans on the island and Cubans in exile. There is also 50 years of indoctrination, deceit, suffering, death, torture, and misery.

  16. Yes, “50 years of indoctrination, deceit, suffering, death, torture, and misery” due to the unfortunate failings of my parents–too many parents. Do not forget who had sole power of making Fidel king and comandante–and who has sole power to cut his beard. The consequences of their actions bore severely unforeseen results, irrespective of their intitial intentions to engender democracy within an un-democratic government run by Batista. When the tides changed and Fidel’s ruse was divulged (communism was pronounced the crux of the revolutionary movement in 61′), citizens who had fought with great valor for democratic change had to then emigrate; they had become a minority.

    Those who remained stood tooth-in-nail next to Fidel, fighting off the return of the exiles and “imperialist yankees.” Those who remained became the iron legs of the Revolution, and, up to this very point, they have proven to sustain such faculties. Those who arrived decades after the onset of the Revolution find themselves to be so open-minded and uncruel and apolitical that they fail to judge the Cuban masses accurately; they fail to judge the failings of their fathers. It is a painful matter, I know.

  17. Recommended reading for anyone born after a certain date, and who grew up indoctrinated by the regimes poison.

    Enrique Encinosa’s “Unvanquished” or en espanol: Cuba En Guerra: Historia De LA Oposicion Anticastrista 1959-1993

  18. I give Yoani 50/50 on being an informant for the regime just because one simple thing…”The cuban regimen only allows what they can control”..


  19. ElcubanitoKC,

    I’m glad you chimed in on this post. I’ve explained that to so many people, some who fail to see this point of view and others who just don’t want to. I’m not a product of the revolution, I’m the fruit of exiles (historical), but I’ve had the opportunity to meet many Cubans throughout the years and have actually seen the changes in their minds as time passes. I have understood exactly what you said. I get very frustrated with my friends when they paint with a broad brush without stopping to think and realize that it is not the way they see it. That the only reason they see it the way they do is because they’ve always had the good fortune of knowing the history. That history was not redacted to them like it was to you.

    I don’t believe Yoani is a plant or a government agent. I just think she sees things the way she does because of where she was raised. The view she has with regards the the embargo is typical of her generation, strange in my opinion, would be if she supported the embargo.

    The last few days she’s been reporting on Antunez’s ordeals, and on Orlando Zapata Tamayos death. She went and interviewed his mom just after his death and sent the video out. I’m sorry, but if she’s a plant then her handler is an undercover disident, of course that’s just my humble opinion and not of a “Cuba Expert”…

  20. Lori G.,

    Look, Raul Castro also mentioned the death of Orlando Zapata Tamayo as he didn’t hide from the issue (and he could), but on the other hand look all the bullshit he came up with.

    In other times if it was Fidel Castro he would have just ignored the issue or mentioned that Orlando Zapata Tamayo was a contra-revolutionary that deserved what he got (trust me that’s how evil Fidel Castro is).

    On the other hand you made a very strong point and I sincerely hope that you’re right and I’m wrong, but time will only tell who the real Joani is because I think that is too early to tell.

    Call me cynic, but that dog has bitten me way too many times.

  21. The only way to prove that you aren’t a plant is to go to prison … if you’re not in prison – you’re probably a plant.

    Do you honestly think Josef Stalin would have allowed Yoani to criticize him? Of course not – then why would Raul?

    Think about it, the regime knows that a “yoani” will exist anyway – so why not create their own and use her to infiltrate the groups and have her concede on the important issues. Raul doesn’t give one shit whether the Huffpo crowd thinks less of Cuba, what he wants is the embargo lifted – in that Yoani is an ALLY.

  22. Yoani’s continued “freedom” from incraceration also provides a paradox for to the Zapata story. Raul doesn’t have to say it, but Yoani provides the left a poster child to say “See Raul can’t be that bad, Yoani is still free” … she does not fit into the narrative of a government that starves and firing squads their dissidents. Now why is that??? It would be very easy for G2 to plant evidence or CIA funds on her and lock her up, why haven’t they?

  23. Mr. Mojito,

    You exactly made the point(as you understand the Castro tyranny extremely well). That’s why I hold my suspicions about Joani.

    Let time be the judge.

  24. Thanks, Lori!
    Mr Mojito, the fact that some are/have been in prison and some are/have not, is a strategy taken directly from Stalin. It, as your comment illustrates, hightens the suspicions within the opposition, effectively destroys any cohesion and turns everyone über-paranoid.

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