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    FORTY years ago, Dr. Baudilio Castellanos, a colleague working as the Cuban ambassador in France, told me that, a few days earlier, in the midst of a very formal reception, he was called to a private meeting with President Charles de Gaulle.

    Once alone with the French president in a small room in the Elysée Palace off the large hall being used for the protocol ceremony, General de Gaulle explained to him: “I didn’t really call you for anything important, I just wanted to see what face the Americans would put on when they found out that I was talking with a Cuban.

    From my own experience in diplomatic functions during the 1960s, I can affirm the motive for jokes within various diplomatic bodies prompted by the super-vigilance and reproaches of certain U.S. diplomats – not all of them, of course – provoked by seeing their Latin American colleagues chatting with Cubans.

    For most of that decade, the governments of the region, except for those of Mexico and Canada, had been obliged by Washington to break off relations with Cuba, but the majority of Latin American diplomats privately expressed their objection to that servile measure. So they would find ways of letting their Cuban colleagues know that and quite a number maintained friendly links at the private level, concealed from the U.S. personnel.

    And anyone who wants to confirm that this incredible obsession still persists, I suggest they acquaint themselves with the large number of advantage-seekers in the world who have received juicy recompense for a barely unfriendly gesture to Cuba, which might be in writing, in the form of a statement, an opportune vote, an opinion on any contentious issue or even a simple hostile expression in the right place.

    Those situations take place at the level of practicing leaders and also in politics or government or opposition parties in whose conduct the deliberate proposition to please the U.S. government rather than express some political position in relation to Cuba can be noticed. Actions of this kind can usually be divined on account of the imbalance between acts and hostile gestures, or because they are not applied in similar circumstances to other countries.

    I have talked with foreign friends who say that they are not at all surprised to suddenly note in their countries’ media, without any apparent reason, a proliferation of articles or programs painting a satanic image of Cuba in a general sense or in some specific aspect.

    One example of extreme distortion can be found in an extensive article published in the Miami press referring to a rosary of disasters that a team of journalists claim to have discovered recently in Cuba. When Cuba displays achievements in its living conditions as it emerges from the crisis of the 90s without having made concessions to neoliberalism, and in spite of the absence from his habitual leadership tasks of President Fidel Castro – who is convalescing from a delicate surgical operation – the tragicomic picture that the abovementioned article presents is enough to make any honest foreign visitor who has observed the reality explode with indignation. (1)

    “What happens is that nowadays nobody writes against Cuba until they’re paid to do so, not even its most sworn enemies,” a foreign friend told me.

    It is known that the 48 years ago, the U.S. government invested copious resources in a virtual war on the Cuban Revolution in order to prevent the pro-independence example of the island from extending to Latin America in detriment to its neocolonial dominion. This Goliath against David effort was even intensified at the end of the Cold War.

    Currently, every year the United States directs no less than $35 million contributed by its tax payers to attacking Cuba in the terrain of information, on the margins of the economic blockade, covert terrorist aggression and military threats that force this little Third World country to direct a large part of its scarce material and human resources in the defense of its sovereignty.

    For many years, U.S. onslaughts on Cuba were organized in a more or less surreptitious way by the intelligence and security agencies. But for a number of years now, particular starting with the neoconservative regime consolidated with the Reagan administration, plans against Cuba became more and more overt. An essential aspect of these was the publicity around budgets to pay for all kinds of contributions.

    While the greater part of government funds assigned to anti-Castro programs are distributed by means of non-tendered contracts destined to the anti-Cuban industry prospering in Miami, Washington, Madrid, Eastern Europe and certain Latin American capitals, a small part serves to remunerate local “dissidents” in Cuba, paradoxically sometimes given leading roles.

    Thus, the U.S. press unabashedly reveals figures of Washington funding to European “anti-Castro” organizations. This concerns million-dollar quantities injected via the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), an agency created by the Reagan government during a period in which CIA scandals were constantly coming to light, in order to have a body with an adequate façade within the civil society to legally assume what the infamous agency was responsible for in terms of covert actions. (2)

    In the last 20 years, the NED distributed almost $14 million to support programs “promoting democracy in Cuba,” from the United States, Europe and Latin America.

    In addition in the NED, the USA utilizes the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), whose donations are generally directed toward entities created or funded by U.S. organizations, although recently it has also been funding international initiatives.

    The International Group for Corporate Social Responsibility,” recently created in Spain with branches in Europe and Latin America to harass and dissuade European enterprises from investing in Europe, received more than $200,000 in its first year of work.

    Another called the Cuban Democratic Directorate, with branches in Mexico and Argentina, and which is active in various countries in Latin America and Europe, has received more than $6 million since 2004, channeled via USAID and the NED. It is dedicated to funding protest demonstrations outside Cuban diplomatic missions, among other propagandistic events.

    One of the directors of the of the nongovernmental Inter-American Dialogue, based in Washington D.C, a neo-conservative think tank, acknowledged in an interview with the Associated Press that these campaigns have no impact in Cuba, but that the million-dollar transfers from the U.S. government to European anti-Castro groups allow them to survive in countries like the Czech Republic, Sweden and Spain to put pressure on their governments’ policies toward the island. (3)

    In terms of funds directed to remunerating the work of the “dissidents” so that they keep up the game in Cuba, the news is not good for U.S. contributors who, at the end of the day, are the ones who contribute the money. A recent U.S. Congress audit analyzed $65 million in payments to this end from USAID between 1996-2005 and found that a good part of those funds were spent on computer games, Nintendo and Play Stations, cashmere sweaters, crabmeat, fine chocolate, leather jackets, mountain bikes and other apparently non-luxury items.

    Washington’s policy toward the island is subject to an obstinacy that is increasingly distant from objectivity. It has reached a point of distorting the truth to such an extent that even the U.S. intelligence community has confessed that its work is being hindered by a political environment that only rewards those who tell the government what it wants to hear on Cuban realities.

    After close to 50 years of manifest hostility, the concrete fact is that Washington is still obsessed with the idea of defeating this “bad example” that is the Cuban Revolution and cannot find any other accomplices than those it pays and those its deceives. •

    * Manuel E. Yepe Menéndez is a professor at the Higher Institute of International Relations in Havana.

    (1) Frances Robles and Wilfredo Cancio: “The Cuba puzzle, trapped in the present,” The Miami Herald/El Nuevo Herald, 16.05.2007

    (2) The New York Times, March 31: “the NED would do somewhat overtly what the CIA had been doing covertly for decades… supplying selected political groups, civic organizations, labor unions, dissident movements, student groups, book publishers, newspapers, other media etc.

    (3) Pascual Serrano, “How the US government finances European anti-Castroism,” Rebelión, 23.12.2006.

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