Friday, September 29, 2006

How Castro uses foreign journalists...

John Fenton Wheeler is a former reporter and bureau chief for the Associated Press. He has written a 5-part series about his career which included a stint in Cuba for the Columbia Tribune.

In the part published on Thursday he writes about a Cuban he knew named Francisco Teira Alfonso who went by the nickname of Paco. Paco was a Cuban intelligence agent that ended up in the United States and, in 1971, testified before a Senate subcommittee. Wheeler quotes some of Paco's testimony:

“We used to bug the rooms with electronic devices and things like that. This was the modus operandi with the journalists, and I can say that we used the same method with the personnel of the foreign embassies and the foreign press agencies in Cuba, especially those of the Western countries like AP, UPI and Reuters.
Speaking about Wheeler himself Paco told the senators:
“It was different with the AP man. They were really trying to get him involved. And, it was very hard for me because I did not want to lend myself to a machination that would have damaged an individual, especially an individual for whom I felt real friendship. It was very hard for me to keep him out of trouble because I had to play the role of double agent and I had to report his activities.

“I found myself in the middle because at the time, the Cuban government and specifically Fidel Castro, himself, was very much interested in proving that the man was a CIA agent, or at least that he had been co-opted by the CIA. Actually, Fidel wanted to involve the Associated Press office in Havana in a scandal of being a nest of espionage agents for propaganda purposes and to make it lose prestige in the eyes of the Americans and give proof to the world that the United States was using all means to infiltrate agents in Cuba.

“Fidel Castro was very interested in concocting such a scandal. The DSE had tried to involve Ike Flores,” a previous AP correspondent, “but the man did not fit their requirements.

“According to their plan, they singled out John Wheeler of AP as the perfect target for this purpose.

“I don’t know why, but John Wheeler used to make Castro real mad. He was a man who could really provoke anger in Castro. On the other hand, Castro would characterize him as the typical American imperialist, a good cadre of American imperialism. Don’t ask me why, but Castro could not be around other journalists if John Wheeler was among them. Despite the fact that he had made him angry, at the same time he recognized the fact that John Wheeler was a smart man.

“Repeatedly, I was told, ‘Well, Paco, this time you have got to do your best to prove this man is a CIA agent,’ and well, this was very sarcastic, you see, it was ordered to me in a very sarcastic way, that if he is not, you make him a CIA agent.
In answering a senator's question, Paco said:
“They wanted to frame Wheeler, yes.”
Wheeler goes on in the article:
In testimony before the Senate Internal Security subcommittee after he defected, Paco mentioned a handful of American journalists who had been given “the treatment” during their visits to Cuba. The treatment was basically deception, he said. If the journalist refused government transportation and preferred a taxi, he or she got one. But the cab driver was a security plant. If they wanted to interview an ordinary Cuban, they were another plant, etc. The treatment also included electronic surveillance and, if the journalist desired, a sexual partner.
I wonder how many journalists in Cuba are currently getting "the treatment." To Castro every reporter is a CIA agent.


Anonymous said...

You, "Conductor", don't mention that the testimony by Paco, and the context of the entire Wheeler series, takes place in the 1960's.

As was documented in Don Bohning's book "The Castro Obsession: U.S. Covert Operations Against Cuba, 1959-1965", there were CIA operatives in Cuba, also operating as journalists.

"The Treatment" was a direct result of that. If you read the first two parts of Wheeler's excellent series, you will read about an event of captured CIA operatives during Wheeler's stint in Cuba.

As a matter of fact, Wheeler provides a good reason on why he went through "the Treatment": "[as] the only U.S. journalist based in Cuba: I was the only available U.S. target on the island." []

The documentation in Bohning's book, hailed by Brian Latell as "admirable work" and "much needed illumination in a single comprehensive volume"[]
shows without question the web of US covert operations being waged in Cuba.

So why the big fuss if the Cuban government was responding in kind during the 60's?

Are you saying that it's still going on now? Why would it? The current climate is not the same as in the 60's. It doesn't make sense.

Henry "Conductor" Gomez said...

Well Mr. "Anonymous" I did say that Paco testified in 1971 which would mean he was talking about activities prior 1971 which would mean between 1959 and 1971 which would encompass the entire 60s and nobody should be confused.

Secondly I excerpt the article because 1. To post the entire thing is too long. 2. I am the editor of this blog and I get to post what I THINK IS IMPORTANT.

I did post a link to the entire article for anyone to read and make their own judgements. I don't have to connect the dots for my usual readers.

If you think anything has changed in the modus operandi of the Castro regime vis-a-vis foreign journalists I'd like to offer proof. It's business as usual for that cadre of sycophants. Why are there so few articles critical of the regime published? Why so few that portray the reality in Cuba? It can't be because everyone is perfectly happy. Why do people leave in droves when given the opportunity if everything is so great?

The reason you don't see any negative stories from foreign journalists on the island is because they'll get kicked out. They have made a faustian bargain. They have sold their journalistic souls to the Devil of Fidel Castro so that they can maintain a Cuba bureau.

Now run along and go read that book your friend Chavez recommended.

Orlando said...

I think that this should be a warning all those that go down there to Cuba to visit their friend castro, or just to report on him. Rest assured that every move, every nuanse, every picking of their noses is being recorded, cataloged and indexed for the prosterity of the revolution.

ziva said...

Interesting to note anonymous's assumptions about US operatives in Cuba. When did the US and our operatives become the "bad guys". Fidel Castro's regime was never a benevolent presence deserving of accommodation. Really, quite the contrary, and if you look at the current threat from Venezuela/Cuba and their allies I think if anything our government was remiss in not finding a way to successfully neutralize Fidel.