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Acting on Our Conscience Briefing Sheet: 
roadmap for Diaspora support of Miami-backed Plantocracy dissidents
Claude Betancourt, 1/6/2010


The Acting on Our Conscience petition  package Carlos Moore organized around the plight of Cuban dissident Dr. Darsi Ferrer was released with backing from an impressive cross-section of progressive AfroCaribbean, AfroLatin, and African American intellectuals, following the lead of Dr. Abdias Nascimento, the venerable AfroBrazilian activist and cultural icon. This support  is understandable, insofar as the issue of racism in the Cuban revolution remains unsatisfactorily addressed by the ruling party for sociological reasons analyzed on this site by a number of authors. It is also unfortunate, given the less-than-transparent orientation of the persons cited by the petition package in the cause of civil rights.

Some critical assessment is required, not only of the petition's factual claims, but also of the complex agenda which underlies the petition's role in terms of Miami-Havana relations during the last decades. Nothing could be more damaging to the AfroCuban cause than to be rhetorically captured by elements of the Miami exile community whose wealth and power derive from plantation slavery, and whose "support" for AfroCuban rights is at best opportunistic, and at worst part of the old Cold War game-plan intent on dividing the Cuban population along the color line, for destructive and cynical goals. Abundant evidence is presented here of the history of such manipulations that persons cited in the petition and their allies engaged in, and this argues for caution in endorsing its superficial rhetoric.

The Acting on Our Conscience petition was sent out with an attachment, a "Cuba Briefing Sheet," which consists of five sections. The first states the demographics as being around 60% to 70% AfroCubans. The seconds section draws on Esteban Morales' work as a researcher and professor at the University of Havana and member of the Cuban Academy of Sciences, citing his extensive 385 page report, Desafíos de la problemática racial en Cuba (The Challenges of the Racial Problem in Cuba). All sides agree on Morales' facts, which are painful to Cubans. 

The third section entitled "Justice Activists and Prison System" states that "Over the past 15 years, the two major Black civil rights movements which have emerged are the “Citizens Committee for Racial Integration” (CIR) and the “Progressive Circle Party” (PARP)."  This section also engages in a confusing numbers game concerning political prisoners, about which more later.

The fourth and fifth sections, "Prominent Civil Rights leaders" and "Designated US-based representatives of the two chief Cuban civil rights movements," list a series of persons and organizations.  Overall, they show a number of disturbing signs of long standing links with the Miami hard right, sponsor of so much terrorism against Cuba.

The Citizens Committee for Racial Integration (CIR) has for its Miami spokeswoman Victoria Ruiz Labrit, a Cuban dissident now in Miami who has worked for Florida Congresswoman Ileana Ros Lehtinen and also has the support of the Diaz-Balarts, a former slave owning family which supplies two Congressman for the Miami machine.  According to FedSpending.org, Ruiz Labrit was funded by Congresswoman Ileana Ros Lehtinen in 2004 and 2005, when she received $47,000. Many of us will remember Ros Lehtinen for her 1989 Congressional campaign, which included advocacy for the release of the infamous Orlando Bosch, recognized by all sides as the author of the destruction of a Cubana airliner in 1976, which killed 73 civilians. President Bush senior later freed Bosch based on her lobbying. 

The Diaz Balart  family, like the Bacardis and the Fanjuls, represents the old slave owning plantocracy in exile -- their money and influence drive much of South Florida politics. Congressman Diaz Balart openly advocated for Ruiz Labrit on the floor of the House in a 2001 speech where he praised her work and called for Americans to support her, giving out her phone number

The CIR has a web site out of Spain, which is managed by a group of young Spaniards: www.cir-integracion-racial-cuba.org.

One of the CIR's more vocal members in Cuba is Manuel Cuesta Morúa, a descendant of Martín Morúa Delgado after whom is named the infamous Ley Morúa, which served to outlaw the Partido Independiente de Color and thus set the stage for its destruction and the murder of over 6,000 AfroCubans. According to non-government sources in Havana, Cuesta Morúa is well known as a frequent visitor to the US Interests Section, which has long acted as a branch office of the Miami plantocracy.

Cuesta Morúa is also chairman of the Briefing's other main "Black civil rights" group, the Progressive Circle Party (PARP).  Their party organ used to be Revista Digital Consenso at www.consenso.org. Visitors to this site are now redirected to Desde Cuba, Yoani Sanchez' blog machine -- a most interesting development.  

According to extensive research on Yoani Sanchez, carried out by both Americans and Cubans, she was a virtual unknown until two newspapers, both owned by PRISA -- El Nuevo Herald in Miami and El Pais in Madrid -- started to hawk her blog. For an ordinary Cuban to have been able to pay the Internet fees she did at various hotels, she would have had to have had some seed money, but it appears that the bulk of her funds come from PRISA, which awarded her the Ortega y Gasset Journalism Award in 2008 for 15,0000 euros or over $21,000. Not bad when you consider that the average annual wage in Cuba is under $300. Enough to not only pay for her blogging, but also that of numerous others, which she is involved in organizing. And she has received other awards, including the Maria Moors Cabot prize from Columbia University in 2009 for  $5,000. This is a new method for funding dissidents - give them prizes. The old method involved passing money from Miami to Cuba, and left the recipients vulnerable to charges that they were working for the enemy, as would happen in many countries, including the US. Some number of the 200 jailed as political prisoners are likely accused of this.

Desde Cuba is actually registered to Yoani and has an editorial board  of 6, one of whom is the AfroCuban dissident Dimas Castellanos, a Licenciado in Bible and Theological Studies from the Institute of Biblical and Theological Studies. He was professor of Marxist Philosophy, like his colleague Enrique Patterson.  Castellanos published an article, La matanza de Oriente, Encuentro, 4/27/07, defending Martín Morúa Delgado's ideas and accusing the Partido Independiente de Color of having caused their own destruction through their choice of a race based party (not strictly true, since there were white members).

Dimas Castellanos's presence on Yoani's editorial board presages more activities in new media related to the issue of racism. Given the technology and financial backing, this could have a substantial impact, more than the Miami plantocracy has been able to achieve with their paid for old school dissidents, who are largely recognized as having failed in their effort to attract much interest inside Cuba. Already we see US contractors distributing equipment to people in Cuba to create a new media information network out of the government's control.

Some of the dissidents listed in the Briefing's fourth section present attractive profiles: Laritza Diversent is a Cuban attorney who specializes in defending profiled Black youth, a deservedly hot issue. Her writings are original and well crafted. Yet periodically she breaks out in support of Dr. Oscar Biscet, a political prisoner whose main issue seems to be that he is anti-abortion, a stance which has earned him much support with conservative Catholics in Miami.

The petition package which included the Briefing was sent out by Dr. David Covin,  Professor Emeritus, University of California at Sacramento and Past President, National Conference of Black Political Scientists who identified himself as such in a press release that was part of the package. The press release mentions an "AD HOC COMMITTEE FOR RACIAL AND HUMAN JUSTICE."top Covin has followed up on the package with an article, Cuban opposition pleased by African American support. By Professor Emeritus, 12/10/09, Radio Martí, that promotes Oscar BiscetManuel Cuesta Morua of the Party Arco Progresista, and Doctor Darsi Ferrer. It's a pure Freedom House operation, just as they did with the Company in Eastern Europe after WWII. All will do well to remember that these emigré organizations were riddled with informants for both sides and were turned around and upside down by the Soviets, who exploited a number of security lapses, including overcentralization.

These glimpses into Miami's AfroCuban dissidents should come as no surprise.  Dr. Alberto Jones and others have been warning about the funds going into the manufacture of AfroCuban contra cadres since at least 2001.  Dr. Jones has had a ringside seat at the Miami circus and remembers this effort beginning in the 1990's. He has outlined it in a series of articles, the most recent of which is A Worldwide Battle of Life and Death. Part I, 12/25/09, which recounts essentials pieces of the history of Cuban racism in Miami:

In the late 80’s Blacks were being blamed openly in Miami for keeping Fidel Castro in power because of their disproportionate presence in the Cuban Army and as his bodyguards. Armando Perez-Roura, director of Radio Mambi 710 AM and the late Agustin Tamargo, director of La Mesa Revuelta, openly requested a three days License upon the collapse of the Cuban Government to dole out retribution to Afro-Cubans for their past deeds.

In this same article, he gives an important overview of how the shift to funding AfroCubans took place:

The crisis of the Balseros in 1994 brought 35,000 Cuban immigrants to south Florida, with a notable increase in the presence of Blacks, which lead numerous Think Tank groups in the US to carry out a number of demographic studies in Cuba, through which they determined a substantial shift in favor of Afro-Cubans and mixed race, which some placed as high as 62% of the population. These findings introduced a radical change in most counterrevolutionary groups' thinking in the United States. Where they had shunned Blacks historically, they now found themselves actively recruiting every Afro-Cuban they could get their hands on, hoping to promote them to front desk activities and leadership positions.

Emergent leadership academies were created under the guidance of many Human Rights and Afro-American Civil Rights organizations and some historically Black Universities, which pumped out a number of graduates, who in turn were charged with fomenting groups of Afro-Cubans inside Cuba under the cover of Independent Librarians, Independent Journalists, Independent Medical Care, Independent everything else.

Under the watchful eye of notorious CIA operative Frank Calzón, director of the Free Cuba Foundation, Whites in leadership positions within counterrevolutionary groups were placed on the back burner, seldom referred to and their press releases, statements and other activities went frequently ignored.

In order to be covered, interviewed or written about, a heavy dose of melanin skin content became a pre-condition. Names of Afro-Cubans coming out of nowhere became celebrities. Glossy magazines were handed out for free, documentaries about every black issues were readily funded, music and book festivals were organized, seminars, conferences and symposiums became too many to be attended, as thousands of fax machines, computers, shortwave radios, DVDs and cell phones were handed-out in Cuba like hot bread.

The third section of the Briefing engages in a curious numbers game. It states that the "human rights" oriented dissident groups are all white, that it is only the "civil rights" groups that attract Black Cubans. But then it says:

There are some 200 political prisoners in Cuba and about 60 are reported to be black; however, specifically Black civil rights activists are not considered political prisoners (including Dr. Ferrer) but “common criminals” and treated as a common prisoners in maximum security detention centers.

The 60 out of 200 would put the percentage of black political prisoners at 30%, far less than the percentage of AfroCubans in the population, generally held to be around 60%-70%.  Is the alleged Cuban practice of treating black civil rights activists as common criminals enough to make up for such a large percent difference? Are all these 60 black political prisoners members of human rights groups or civil rights groups?  If human rights, then there are black members of human rights groups, if civil rights, then not all blacks political prisoners are treated as criminals.  In any case, we are discussing 200 individuals out of a population of over 11 million, which may skew the statistics due to the small sample size.

I and other researchers were able to uncover this material within a few hours. We invite others to weigh in and flesh out the story. It is surprising the signers of Acting on Our Conscience apparently looked so little and did not pick up on the trap set for them. Actually, at least some of them were not aware that Carlos Moore organized the petition and they were also not aware of the accompanying Briefing, and perhaps many won't know any of this until someone tells them.

To the signs of Miami plantocracy activism we detect in the Briefing, we must add those already established for Dr. Darsi Ferrer, the immediate object of the Acting on Our Conscience letter: he has long been a darling of the Miami hard right and does not have much of a record as an anti-racist activist.  His career parallels that of Antunez, who I have written about in the context of the long term Miami effort to inject US Civil Rights imagery -- Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks -- into the Cuban scene. Such an effort has as precursor the noted terrorist Jose Basulto. To quote Invoking MLK and Rosa Parks in Cuban Exile Politics, 5/09:

The invocation of such US civil rights imagery dates back at least to Jose Basulto's bringing a group in November, 1995 to train with the MLK Institute for Nonviolence, created by the State of Florida (See Spreading King's message  2/8/1996 Miami Times). Basulto is the CIA veteran and Cuban exile terrorist who founded Brothers to the Rescue, which, besides rescuing rafters, also deliver leaflets over Cuba, at least until two of their planes were shot down on February 24, 1996. Lisa Pease, Peter Dale Scott, and others did extensive research on Basulto, summarized on AfroCubaWeb in 1996. Among Basulto's many long term terrorist associations figures CIA operative Felix Rodriguez, a Bush man who was in on the Che Guevara kill and managed hangars 4 & 5 at Ilopango Air Base, El Salvador, the primary Coca Contra air base for narcotics and arms trafficking.

The Free Cuba Foundation, founded by Frank Calzón of the CIA, put on a 1998 conference at Miami's Florida International University: Gandhi, King, and Marti: Brothers in Thought. The did a repeat in 2008, with the same title.

Frank Calzón worked for Freedom House and later the Center for a Free Cuba. An examination of his 1998 conference agenda reveals the presence of two speakers, Jose Basulto and Orlando Gutierrez, each of whom has an extensive track record as terrorist.  Orlando Gutiérrez Borona is a National Secretary of the NED funded Directorio Democrático Cubano  and was a leader of the terrorist group Organización para la Liberación de Cuba and a supporter of the death squad related ARENA in El Salvador. The whole routine could have come out of post-war Eastern Europe, whose emigré ranks were riddled with spies, as also happened with the 75 dissidents arrested in 2003, thanks to the work of a Cuban counterintelligence agent interviewed in Spy vs Spy -- she was in close contact with Frank Calzón.  Such Freedom House operations are sinecures for a few, with money being spread around and low effectiveness due to a farcical top down approach worthy of Get Smart.

All in all, this material serves to confirm long standing suspicions that Carlos Moore, the prime mover behind Acting on Our Conscience, has strong ties to the Miami plantocracy in exile and its related allies in federal agencies, however much he might protest this characterization.

One question is, what will the signers of Acting on Our Conscience do with this easily verifiable information? Will they continue to help the Miami plantocracy on the path outlined in this Briefing? Will they find others to work with? Among the AfroCuban activists who really struggle for wider opportunities are those who continue the self help operations of yore - the cabildos, the abakwa lodges, and innumerable Congo groups in and out of government carry on the traditions of Africa and never use the rhetoric dreamt up in Florida with "civil rights" and MLK, as if Cuba were once again some kind of appendage of the US. 

Ron Walters, a signer and former campaign manager for Jesse Jackson, made an estimation of the Cuban reaction to the petition, and pronounced that the Cuban government has no interest in doing anything about racism.  Perhaps he needs to be apprised of Raul Castro's December 21st statement: about racism and sexism: "Personalmente considero que es una vergüenza el insuficiente avance en esta materia en 50 años de Revolución" - "Personally, I consider the insufficient advance on this matter in 50 years of Revolution to be a disgrace."

Cuba is caught in a bind due to its cultural approach towards race, one determined by its Ibero-Spanish heritage and its political affiliation as a Republic, which thanks to George Zarur we can trace back to the French Republic, where citizenship trumps everything, especially identity/ethnicity issues, and assimilation is a political given. That was how Senghor was a national deputé in Paris while his country Senegal remained under colonial rule. That is how today the wearing of religious symbols is banned in French schools. And that is why the Cuban revolution prefers to ignore racial identity at an official level ("we are all Cubans here" ), even though this stance separates it from many persistent historical realities such as were incisively treated by Eugene Godfried, the late Afrocaribbean activist and staunch partisan of Cuban Communism

Until the Cuban government further develops its ongoing efforts to bring about cultural and political changes around AfroCuban issues, Cuba will remain vulnerable to the paradox of its exiled plantocracy calling for Black Liberation and actually succeeding in getting some in the African Diaspora to side with them.

-- Claude Betancourt

Alberto Jones' articles on Miami's AfroCuban Machinery

A Worldwide Battle of Life and Death. Part I, 12/25/09, Alberto Jones
"In the late 80’s Blacks were being blamed openly in Miami for keeping Fidel Castro in power because of their disproportionate presence in the Cuban Army and as his bodyguards. Armando Perez-Roura, director of Radio Mambi 710 AM and the late Agustin Tamargo, director of La Mesa Revuelta, openly requested a three days' License upon the collapse of the Cuban Government to dole out retribution to Afro-Cubans for their past deeds."

Laying the groundwork for another 1912, 12/8/09, Alberto Jones comments on the Carlos Moore letter, "Acting on Our Conscience."

Mimetism, New Weapon within the Cuba Hate Industry, 6/18/09

A Sincere and Painful Apology to the U.S. Congressional Black Caucus, 5/09, Alberto Jones

The Race Card: their last bastion in a lost war, 1/31/09, Alberto Jones

Why Banes does not miss the Diaz-Balarts nor the United Fruit Co., 10/22/08 Alberto Jones

The attempt to divide Cuba on racial lines, 7/9/01, Alberto Jones

History will condemn them forever, 7/25/01, Alberto Jones



Links
top/Enlaces

Acting On Our Conscience - A Declaration of African American Support for the Civil Rights Struggle in Cuba, 12/09

The Discourse on Racism in Anti-Castro Publications, 2008-2010

Invoking MLK and Rosa Parks in Cuban Exile Politics, 5/09, Claude Betancourt

The Discourse on Racism in Anti-Castro Publications, 2007

November 2006 GAO report on US Democracy Assistance for Cuba -- www.gao.gov/new.items/d07147.pdf 

Cuban American business and terrorism, 2005

Funding Dissidents: 2002

Funding Dissidents: 2001

Dissidents and Race, 2001

Funding Dissidents: 2000 and before

Reflections on Cuba: History, Memory, Race, and Solidarity, by Lisa Brock, Souls  Magazine, Spring 1999

Nation and Multiculturalism in Cuba: A Comparison with the United States and Brazil
  by George Zarur.
Discusses the concept of Republic and its impact, tracing the Latin American Republics back to the French Republic

 

 

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