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Column 072114 Brewer

Monday, July 21, 2014

Russia Rejoins Cuba's Espionage Apparatchik in the Americas

By Jerry Brewer

In order to effectively monitor aggression, hostile intelligence acts, interference, and other forms of insurgency within their homelands, democracies throughout the Americas must immediately address their governments' counterintelligence missions against those rogue and dictatorial style regimes that pose obvious threats.

Russia’s recent decision to reopen its electronic spying center in Cuba is once again an obvious act that aggressively demonstrates support for the Cuban Castro regime, and a shared dispute versus the United States.

The Lourdes base closed 13 years ago, having been built in 1962. The closing was reportedly due to the economic crisis in Russia, along with repeated requests from the United States.

Lourdes served as a signals' intelligence (SIGINT) facility, among other applications, located just 100 miles from the United States at Key West, Florida. During what has been described as the Cold War, the Lourdes facility was believed to be staffed “by over 1,500 KGB, GRU, Cuban DGI, and Eastern Bloc technicians, engineers and intelligence operatives.”

In 2000, it was reported that China signed an agreement with the Cuban government to share use of the facility for its own intelligence agency.

Despite pro-Cuba chants for economic aid and the lifting of the 50 year old Cuban Embargo, placed via President John F. Kennedy's Proclamation 3447, there appears to be no shortage of funding by Cuba for that nation's energetic spy apparatchik.

The original U.S. manifesto regarding Cuba, in 1962, expressed the necessity for the embargo until such time that Cuba would demonstrate respect for human rights and liberty.  And today, there certainly cannot be much of an argument that the continuing Castro regime has ever complied with any aspect of that mandate.  In fact, Castro's revolution has arrogantly continued to force horrific sacrifices on Cubans in their homeland, as well as suffering by those that fled the murderous regime over the decades and left families behind.

Neither of the Castro brothers has ever, even remotely, disguised their venomous hatred for the U.S., democracy, or the U.S. way of life – even prior to the embargo.  Their anti-U.S. rhetoric continues, along with Russia and Venezuela, and they continue to extol radical leftist and communist governments throughout the world.

The Russian parliament recently pardoned 90% of Cuba’s US$38.5 billion debt dating back to the now defunct Soviet Union. 

Last week a senior Russian official, explaining the revived interest of Moscow to monitor communications from Washington, said, “Our relations (with the U.S.) deteriorated considerably well before the crisis in the Ukraine. In reality, they never really improved, except for some specific periods which have been the exception to the rule.”

The U.S. and others, especially in Latin America, must not underestimate Cuba's vast intelligence and espionage services.  Their security and intelligence networks are on a scale perceived to be "many times larger than that of the United States."  And even with Cuba's poverty, depressed economic situation and weak prognosis for future windfalls, their clandestine operational acts continue and extend throughout the Americas and the world.

The Cuban espionage budget is not generally known outside of most major competent intelligence services globally.  However, much of their modus operandi is – essentially that of the DI (Dirección de Inteligencia), which never had to be reinvented. That is other than changing the moniker, from the former DGI (Dirección General de Inteligencia), with its original training by the former Soviet KGB.

Cuba maintains one of its largest intelligence networks in Venezuela, and in Mexico, as does Russia. The late President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela preferred direct access to Cuba’s security service, as indicated by cables unscrupulously released and sent from the U.S. Embassy in Caracas to the State Department.  This cozy relationship, between Cuba and Venezuela, reeked of massive funding hidden by obscure secret decrees and continues to this very day.

Cuba's intelligence network has long been focused on the U.S. as its primary adversary.  As the U.S. is perceived to be the number one threat to the Castro and leftist regimes in Latin America, intelligence acquisition is a high priority to the dictatorial-like leftist regimes throughout the hemisphere.

In addition, the U.S. DEA has shown direct and growing criminal drug ties between Colombia's FARC guerrillas and Hezbollah. Testimony in February of this year revealed that “FARC is a central part of the revolutionary project of bringing together armed groups and terrorist organizations under the umbrella of the (Venezuelan) Bolivarian Revolution.” Plus there are known and reported links between the late Hugo Chavez, Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega, Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa, and current President Salvador Sanchez Ceren of El Salvador, all of whom are apparently “giving significant logistical, financial, and political support to the FARC, allowing FARC to expand its international networks and increase its resources.” 

El Salvador’s Sanchez Ceren may have telegraphed his mindset last May, just prior to being sworn in as president on June 1, when he met with Cuban President Raul Castro and two of Cuba's spies who were previously convicted in the United States on conspiracy and espionage charges.

The real objective of Cuban espionage in the United States is to penetrate and influence the various spheres of government, the military, academia, the media and social organizations. The cases of Ana Belen Montes, the Cuban spy at the Pentagon, and the couple, Kendall and Gwendolyn Myers, who for 30 years gave State Department secrets to Havana, prove the determination of the regime to damage U.S. national security. And it appears that Russia is anxious to help.

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Jerry Brewer is C.E.O. of Criminal Justice International Associates, a global threat mitigation firm headquartered in northern Virginia.  His website is located at www.cjiausa.org.

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