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
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.
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
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.
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 machine 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."
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
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 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
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
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.
“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 machine 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.
Calzón worked for
Freedom House and later the Center for a Free Cuba. An examination of
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 machine and its related allies in
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
machine 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
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 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