While the United States is creating a scandal for the supposed Russian intervention in social networks to influence the 2016 elections that Donald Trump won, today evidence has been uncovered that the US government uses Facebook to spread Cuba’s “fake news” and clandestinely encourage dissent on the island.
The Florida weekly Miami News Times revealed on Wednesday that it has had access to documents from the government Office of Transmissions to Cuba (OCB), by Radio and TV Martí, where it is revealed that the Trump administration has been using accounts for two years on Facebook that seem “native” (of real people from the island) to spread propaganda without informing the Cuban users of Facebook that it is US government advertising.
According to the report obtained by the weekly, due to the failure of Radio and TV Martí: “The strategy of the OCB has focused on an offensive through social networks, based on metrics that place YouTube, Google and Facebook among the most visited sites in Cuba with the use of AVRA technology (Audio and Video for Radio), Radio Martí programs began to be transmitted through Facebook Live together with TV Martí programming, which provides the OCB with an outlet of efficient and cost-effective additional distribution for both your radio (now visual radio) and TV content.
In fiscal year of 2018, the OCB has been establishing with island digital equipment (read “dissidents” paid by the United States) that create native and “unbranded” Facebook accounts to disseminate information. The “native” pages increase the chances of appearing in the news of Cuban users of Facebook. The same strategy will be replicated in other “preferred” social networks.
Miami News Times assures that the documents do not explain what federal agents mean by “unmarked” or “native” Facebook pages, but it is clear that they should resemble the pages of regular users of social networks to persuade Cubans to read the propaganda of Radio and TV Martí.
According to the weekly, both government radio stations have spent more than 800 million dollars for years on the part of the US taxpayer, in their unsuccessful effort to influence Cuban public opinion.
This plan fits into a long history of trying to use technology to match propaganda against Cuba, says University of Pennsylvania professor John S. Nichols.
“There are certainly warning signs here,” says Nichols, co-author of the book Clandestine Radio Broadcasting: A Study of Revolutionary and Counterrevolutionary Electronic Communication (1987), on the efforts of the OCB. “It is the latest plan in a long list of efforts by Radio and TV Martí and their predecessors to try to overcome the laws of physics (…) Every time they fail to get their message to Cuba, they say there must be some technological solution “.
Instead, he adds, Congress “does not seem to recognize that both seasons are a colossal failure, it is sad because they are spending taxpayers’ money, but what is really wasted is our credibility as a great nation in doing this kind of stupid thing.”
Prominent figures from both sides of the American political spectrum, including Arizona Republican Senator Jeff Flake, have described these OCB programs as counterproductive and a waste of money. The Democratic representative Betty McCollum liquidated the AeroMartí platform in 2015 (to broadcast the Radio and TV Martí broadcasts to Cuba from an airplane) and assured that the OCB was an “unnecessary” office.
“Marti radio and television are outdated artifacts of the Cold War,” McCollum said in a 2015 statement. “Our taxpayers should not be financing propaganda transmissions.”
But the programs continue to exist thanks to a handful of anti-Cuban lawmakers, including Miami representative Mario Díaz-Balart, a long-time promoter of Radio and TV Martí, says Miami News Times.
Earlier this year, Senator Marco Rubio helped install Tomás Regalado, an old friend, as head of the Radio and TV Martí programs. Since then, Regalado has made great promises about how both stations have new plans to reach “5 million” Cuban citizens in the coming years.
Regalado appeared last week on the Spanish-language network MegaTV to brag about the use of new mysterious technologies that the Cuban government is supposedly unable to block. He said that 200 Cubans had received receivers that would help in this new attempt.
“It’s a technology that did not exist, and since the government does not know it, it will be almost impossible to block it,” said Regalado before the cameras.
Nichols argued to the Florida weekly that this type of propaganda through social networks is damaging the position of the United States before the world.
“Third countries see what we are doing and say: ‘Here goes the United States again doing that nonsense'”, and adds: “It is low, mean and not worthy of great power.” Other countries will say: “If the United States is willing to violate international law, why should we obey our contractual obligations? ‘ I think it has a long-term negative effect, and given what Radio and TV Martí could be doing right now, it’s very hard for us to complain about what other countries might be doing against us. ”
The report accessed by Miami News Times is the budget request of the OCB for the fiscal years of 2018 and 2019. It does not disclose the identities of the “native” and “unbranded” false accounts created in the social network, but the administrators of Facebook if you know what they are. For those extravagant coincidences of life, this information coincides with the decision of the social network founded by Marc Zuckerberg to eliminate hundreds of alleged false accounts of Russians and Iranians allegedly involved in several campaigns of misinformation.
Will Facebook also eliminate false accounts created by the US government for regime change in Cuba? Will the US Attorney designate Robert Mueller or another of his lineage to investigate these abuses, as he has done to determine the alleged Russian interference through Facebook in the 2016 elections?
Failures of Radio and TV Martí
1985: Radio Martí began broadcasting, and five years later, the television aggression began when a television transmitter was put into service aboard a captive aerostat at 3,000 meters high in one of the keys in the south of the state of Florida. .
2005: Hurricane Dennis disappeared the captive balloon located at 10 thousand feet of height in Cudjoe Key, from where Television Martí was transmitted. The OCB replaced it with the “AeroMartí” platform.
2014: the OCB created the Piramideo unwanted text message service, which failed. He then tried to smuggle small satellite devices into the island, but the project was aborted because, in addition to costly, the “dissidents” used the terminals to watch pornography.
2015: deactivate “AeroMartí”.
2018: President Trump created the Internet Task Force for Cuba, which according to the State Department “will examine the technological challenges and opportunities to expand Internet access and independent media in Cuba.” It is clear that this Task Force has encouraged the digital fantasy of the OCB.
Several investigations by the Office of Government Oversight (GAO) have acknowledged that there is solid evidence that Radio and Television Marti are not heard or seen in Cuba. According to Miami New Times, this saga has cost the US taxpayer more than 800 million dollars.