With respect to Cuba: Is Obama Guileful, Duped or a Dim Bulb?
By Jerry Brewer
? An interview with Pedro Riera Escalante, a cashiered former Cuban
spymaster now living in exile, as regards to U.S.-Cuba détente
On July 1, President Barack Obama formally announced that the United
States and Cuba have agreed to open embassies in each other’s capitals.
President Obama stated, “This is a historic step forward in our efforts
to normalize relations with the Cuban government and people and begin a
new chapter with our neighbors in the Americas.”
He continued to say that, “later this summer Secretary (John) Kerry will
travel to Havana formally to proudly raise the American flag over our
embassy once more.” He did acknowledge somewhat contritely that, “Not
everyone is on board with the U.S.-Cuba thaw.”
In announcing his own trip, Secretary of State John Kerry stated: “This
will mark the resumption of embassy operations after a period of 54
years. It will also be the first visit by a Secretary of State to Cuba
since 1945. The reopening of our embassy, I will tell you, is an
important step on the road to restoring fully normal relations between
the United States and Cuba. Coming a quarter of a century after the end
of the Cold War, it recognizes the reality of the changed circumstances,
and it will serve to meet a number of practical needs.”
While this controversial hype on establishing a new era in U.S.-Cuba
relations sounds promising, there is much history and a factual basis to
believe that the players in this agreement may have easily duped each
other and created a false sense of security by quite possibly ignoring
the intelligence and true motives of a knee-jerk and intentionally weak
quid pro quo agreement.
Perhaps much of this naïveté and public doubt can simply relate to John
Kerry’s recent remarks, when he said that, “The resumption of full
embassy activities will help us engage the Cuban government more often
and at a higher level, and it will also allow our diplomats to interact
more frequently, and frankly more broadly and effectively, with the
The decades of oppression and violence, as well as civil and human
rights violations, by Cuba’s Castro regime against its people, plus the
failed economic system and misery caused by forced Communist doctrine,
can most certainly create sincere doubt that the Cuban citizenry will
not continue to be intensely controlled and monitored. Nor will the door
to capitalism see the light of day on the distressed island, as
evidenced by the record of documented statements by both of the Castro
brothers on these subjects.
A U.S. embassy on the island will be a convenient means for Cuba’s
aggressive and savvy security apparatchik and spy services to keep close
tabs on issues of interest, and to isolate and contain U.S. diplomatic
movement by intense overt security and covert tradecraft.
Pedro Riera Escalante served the Castro regime as part of Cuban
intelligence for nearly 24 years (1969-1993); in Mexico City, under the
guise of a diplomat, from 1986-1991. Riera was the Group Chief of
Section Q-1, in charge of operations against the U.S. Central
Intelligence Agency (CIA).
He was placed there, at the highest level of Fidel Castro’s government,
via the head of the General Directorate of Intelligence, or DGI (today
Directorate of Intelligence, DI), General of Division Luis Barreiro
Carames; and after a proposal by Brigadier General Matos Ezequiel
Suarez, 2nd Chief of Intelligence for foreign counterintelligence.
Riera told this interviewer: “I was sent to develop and implement the
same methodology that was developed for the recruitment of CIA officers,
which had been approved as the official doctrine for (Soviet/Cuban)
Riera eventually denounced the Fidel Castro dictatorship and was
imprisoned. He called for a shift towards respect for human rights and
democracy, before, during and after his sentence to prison in Cuba. His
revelations of his orders from Cuba, and his actions in the secret war
that has pitted Cuba versus the U.S. for decades in intelligence and
espionage tradecraft, reveal a continuing process of Cuban subversion in
Brewer: “What was the mission and importance of the Cuban DGI
intelligence service during the period of your service?”
Pedro Riera Escalante (PRE): “The first priority of the DGI, from 1969
through 1993, was penetration and opposition to the United States
government and the CIA.
“In my opinion it continues right now. The United States was always
considered the main enemy, and the policy of Fidel Castro was to
maintain, at all costs, the confrontation and to prevent normalization
of relations, this insofar as having a powerful foreign enemy served
Castro to justify his economic failures and his foreign policy of
supporting guerrilla movements in other countries.
“At one of the previous times, when they were close to the resumption of
relations with Cuba, during the administration of Gerald Ford, Castro in
late 1975 broke off [talks] due to the Cuban military intervention in
Angola. In 1977, with the entry of Cuban troops in Ethiopia, again the
process that was developing with Jimmy Carter ground to a halt. During
the Reagan administration Cuba’s military expansion accelerated in
Angola, Ethiopia, Nicaragua, and El Salvador.
“The facts prove that during most of the years since 1959 the policy of
Cuban military intervention in different parts of the world has been the
principal obstacle for the normalization of relations between the two
“Now, thanks to President Obama closing his eyes to Cuban intervention
in Venezuela and internal repression against democratic opponents and
dissidents in Cuba, what has been conceded completely is that the United
States has accomplished the restoration of diplomatic relations.
“In all those years the mission of the DGI, until 1968, was to train
[and] support guerrillas and urban guerrilla movements materially and
politically in most countries where they existed.
“From 1968 to 1975, the Department of National Liberation was separated
from the DGI [and] charged with support to guerrillas in different parts
of the world, under the command of Comandante Manuel Piñeiro.
“The missions of the DGI, with respect to the United States from 1969 to
1989, were developed by three sub-leaderships … and military
intelligence, they being charged with penetrating the United States
government, first the State Department, embassies, universities, media,
[and] diplomatic mediums in Washington and New York. In 1985, it may
have been (Cuba’s military intelligence) that recruited the U.S. Defense
Intelligence Agency official, Ana Belen Montes.
“[Two DGI] sectional departments, Q-1 and Q-2, [were] in charge of work
against the CIA. The first with three directorates, subdivided into
sections: penetration of CIA headquarters by infiltration or the
introduction of agents recruited at universities and directed to join
the CIA; penetration in third countries; [and] harassment operations
dedicated to propaganda and psychological war against the CIA, therein a
fundamental pillar was the former CIA officer and Cuban intelligence
agent Philip Agee, who died in 2008.
“There were also other former officers, like John Stockwell, the
ex-chief of station of the CIA in Angola during the war; [and] Phil
Roettinger, a CIA officer who played an important role in Guatemala in
1954, who died in 2002.
“Following instructions from Cuba’s leadership, I contacted Phil
Roettinger during my time in Mexico approximately between the years
1988-1990, and traveled to the city of San Miguel de Allende and visited
him at home in order to coordinate his activities and a trip to Cuba
with a group of senior officials of the CIA and the armed forces,
supporters of improving relations with Cuba.
Since the 80s the DGI had two important programs to influence government
policy of the United States towards Cuba. (…) The Section responsible
for the United States was directed to contact, recruit and use State
Department officials, journalists and prominent personalities in
different mediums in order to exert influence actions on the United
States government in favor of improving relations with Cuba.
“Moreover, Section Q-1 was in charge of harassment [and] directed to
denounce CIA plans and reveal the identity of CIA officers through the
actions of Philip Agee and his publication Covert Action and a group of
disgruntled CIA officers who travelled to Cuba and took action or did
publications favorable to the interests of Cuban Intelligence.
“[Several] wrote books revealing information, means and methods of the
CIA, violating their contracts with the CIA, which were used in some
manner by Philip Agee or the DGI, directly or indirectly, consciously or
“I attended to Philip Agee in Cuba during the years 1974 and 1975, to
advise and support him in developing his book ‘Inside the Company: CIA
Diary,’ and later I contacted him in late 1989 when his book became the
centerpiece of the ‘Moncada’ operation, aimed at recruiting the
secretary of the CIA’s deputy chief of station [in Mexico City].
[Information from that first contact] revealed data on the most
important counterintelligence operation carried out by the Station in
order to recruit a Cuban intelligence officer; the facts I knew
subsequently allowed me to verify that the information was true and the
operation continued, and finally allowed intelligence heads to take
preventive measures with the implicated Cuban intelligence officers.
“Double agent Donato Poveda located in the Office of Merchant Marines in
Tokyo in 1974-1976 provide misinformation to the CIA on troops and
military equipment being transported on Cuban civilian ships into battle
in the war in Angola.”
BREWER: “How much of this was the doctrine of Russia and their
PRE: “They developed and initiated special espionage tradecraft and
operations for Cuban officials with access to information from interests
of the CIA located in Cuban missions abroad that were directed so that
the CIA would recruit [them] to misinform, know their means and methods,
and study and engage officers that they attended in order to recruit
them. In early 1976 I received the task to draft the first tradecraft
methodology for the DGI, for which I was provided records of all
tradecraft developed empirically or with basic past concepts; advice
from the KGB was an important leg-up in the work, we considered Soviet
Intelligence our teachers.
“Colonel Victor, Section Chief of tradecraft of the KGB, along with
Colonel Pavel Yatzcov, lectured me several times on Soviet methodology….
From the notes I took during these conferences, and analyses of the
four most important [operations] developed to that date by Cuban
intelligence, in Japan, Spain and Mexico. I compiled the first
methodology. “The first two successes of the new methodology were the
projections and recruiting so that the CIA would recruit [two] agents.
The CIA harassment work developed with Philip Agee was prepared in
coordination and with the support of the KGB.”
BREWER: “What do you think of the mutual opening of embassies between
Cuba and the U.S.?”
PRE: “First of all, the reciprocal opening of embassies benefits the
Cuban government and hurts the Cuban people’s struggle for the
democratization of the country. It can benefit U.S. sectors and
entrepreneurs interested in the Cuban market. But by no means is this
opening and the development of tourism going to produce an impact that
helps the democratization of the country, insofar as what the government
has done has been to intensify repression, which is going to increase
its income and strengthen it in order to be able to repress better.
“And I want to point out that this statement is made not because I
believe the embargo should continue, and that relations should not be
normalized. I have always been in favor of these, but with conditions
that guarantee the Cuban people will truly benefit and on a base of real
democratic opening and not one of trickery.
“Fidel Castro and Raul have said in years past that, when the hostile
policy of the United States would end and relations normalized, the
relationship could bring about openings in Cuba, but none of this has
happened. To the contrary, repression has intensified, they have changed
their ways of great trials and convictions to brief detentions, but all
of the repressive system continues intact and will be strengthened in
order to have total control over the new North American diplomats that
arrive in the country.”
BREWER: “Do you think that Cuban espionage will proliferate in the US
with their new embassy on U.S. soil?”
PRE: “As is known, espionage is a state policy, and it will continue,
they might be more careful, but it will be perfected.
“Moreover, in recent years the degree of penetration of Cuban
intelligence within the US government is very high. As well, I am
convinced that after years the fruits of dozens of agents who were
recruited while studying at universities in order to later penetrate the
CIA and the State Department must have harvested fruits. When I
contacted the CIA in Mexico in 1999 and 2000, to seek political asylum,
the CIA counterintelligence officials were convinced that they had a spy
within the CIA and it was not the case of Ana Belen Montes in the
Defense Intelligence Agency.
“My opinion is that Ana Belen Montes was used in a very risky way,
putting her life at risk in order to exert favorable influence towards
Cuba’s in the US government, but Ana Belen did not belong to the CIA.
“All those agents within the US government and the CIA should have
provided valuable information so that Raul Castro would have firsthand
information and impose his principles in the negotiations with Obama.”
BREWER: “Do you think Cuba will end/curtail surveillance/monitoring of
the new US embassy in Cuba?”
PRE: “Of course the current monitoring will be increased. All Cuban
personnel now working in the Interests Section work for Cuban State
Security. All housing for officials may have microphones and other
devices installed. All records of refugees that have been and are being
processed are first reviewed by Cuban personnel who are security agents
that [give] detailed information to officials.”
BREWER: “Is Cuba’s mission in Venezuela a threat to the US and
Venezuela, and other democracies in the Americas?”
PRE: “The Government of Venezuela is acting in full coordination with
the Cuban government. Its repressive bodies and armed forces are under
the control of Cuban officials. Venezuela is not a danger to the United
States today, but it could become one; in these times it is a government
in a situation that poses a danger for having brought the nation’s
economy to crisis, and it is losing more popular support on a daily basis.
“They have established a very effective repressive system to weaken the
opposition and impede them from reaching government office. Castro will
guarantee oil and revenue in Venezuelan dollars at all costs; supporting
these with all his intelligence resources in order to keep President
[Nicolas] Maduro in power, or the generals who remain loyal to Castro in
case of crisis.
“The danger to the United States is how far will it allow the Cuban
government and Cuban intelligence in Venezuela to continue giving orders
to repress its people; in this lies the danger. As well, how far will
Maduro go in his military alliance with Russia?”
BREWER: “Any comments or warnings to the U.S. on this diplomatic
interaction between the U.S. and Cuba?”
PRE: “The image and foreign policy of the United States have apparently
improved, with President Obama defining his new policy of establishing
relations and rejecting the politics of aggression and pressure that
were ineffective; and his position against the embargo.
“Obama has acted in accordance with Castro and his interests, but
against the legitimate interests of the Cuban people, the facts will
demonstrate that the Castro regime will not stay in power forever, and
in the present and future it will show that this regime will not change
its dictatorial essence as long as the Castro brothers are in power,
even while the United States has changed its policy and even eliminated
“Obama, apparently, must have been tranquilized by Raul Castro’s promise
that he will not continue to rule when his current mandate ends, but he
will guarantee that his may persist even after, like what happened in
China after the death of Mao; and with normal relations with the US, the
struggle of the Cuban people for freedom and democracy will be more
repressed, difficult and painful.
“I am confident that the US Congress will make the best decisions, so
that the embargo will be lifted only after Raul Castro eliminates the
embargo on the rights and freedoms of the Cuban people. The embargo was
unproductive and it was an erroneous policy that punished the Cuban
people, but after so much time it would be more erroneous and more
punishing on the Cuban people to suspend it without Raul Castro making a
real democratic opening in Cuba.
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.
Source: With respect to Cuba-Is Obama Guileful, Duped or a Dim Bulb? –