Cuban State Security and its Operation Babel

‘The Tower of Babel’, by Pieter Brueghel the Elder, exhibited in the Kunsthistorisches (Art History Museum), in Vienna, Austria. (DC)

14ymedio bigger14medio, Yunior García Aguilera, Madrid, 8 June 2022 — The Biblical story relates that, shortly after the universal flood, humanity spoke a single language and wanted to erect a tower so high that it reached the sky. Such arrogance aroused the wrath of the God of the Old Testament, who used a sui generis strategy to frustrate the attempt: to confuse the languages. The Almighty could have destroyed the city of Babel with fire, but it was not necessary. It was enough for him to prevent men from being able to understand each other, to communicate.

“Divide and rule” has been the favorite practice of State Security in Cuba. Repression, imprisonment or exile have not been able to annihilate an opposition that is renewing itself and surviving the constant harassment of the dictatorship. But that opposition has also failed to become solid. The continuous attacks between one and the other, the ideological differences, the caudillismos and the sectarian thought have kept it fragmented, confronted, Babelic.

Nor is it a new phenomenon among Cubans. Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, the Father of the Nation, was betrayed and abandoned by his own comrades-in-arms. It would be very difficult for José Martí to earn the respect of the mambises chiefs and he would even challenge one of them to a duel. His differences with Maceo are well known and who knows what internal pressures threw him to an early and useless death in Dos Ríos.

I remember every detail of my first interrogations. State Security took me to one of those houses with walls lined with long curtains. I knew there were cameras everywhere. Every word I said could be manipulated and used against me. In the center, a table showed the contradictions of a country where misery reigns. Filled with crystal glasses, there was everything that was scarce in the stores. Instinct prevents you from touching food, until the hours go by. So you eat and they record you doing it. And if another day they decide to torture you and you report it, they will take those images of you eating shellfish. And they will say: look everyone, this is the torture he talks about! And unfortunately many people will believe them, because the seafood tactic never fails.

In each interrogation, the officer insisted on speaking ill of other opponents to me. His objective was to confont Tania Bruguera and Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara. He mentioned horrible videos that I refused to see and that probably didn’t even exist. But the description of those images that he narrated stayed in my mind, as much as I wanted to ignore them. This is how they play with your psyche. I am convinced that they did the same later with some of the members of Archipiélago. They probably told them horrible things about me, activating their egos, mentioning videos that don’t exist either.

Social networks have constituted for Cubans a new space of struggle, but they are also a double-edged sword. The army of anonymous profiles created by the regime is not only made up of cyberclarias [cyber catfishing]. There are thousands of these profiles posing as opponents. The same template used by some declaring themselves 100% Fidelistas is used by others confirming themselves 100% anti-communist. The pattern is the same and its mission is very clear: attack other opponents.

Anyone who browses Twitter can see how many characters are used to disqualify anyone who has any leadership. This army is much more effective than the traditional cyberclarias. From an apparently radical discourse, suspicions are spread, opinion matrixes are sown, sterile confrontations are generated, reputations are dismembered.

Already the tactic of accusing dissidents of being paid by the CIA does not convince anyone, so they resort to another resource: accusing you of being from the G2 [Cuban State Security]. They know they are so discredited that they use their own discredit to crush the image of an opponent. And even if you are someone who shook the entire dictatorship, some will believe and suspect you.

The opposition must not be monolithic. To build democracy, open and free debate, the confrontation of ideas, the diversity of thoughts are vital. But to achieve a solid opposition that commands the respect and support of the international community, it is necessary to cultivate ethics and political maturity. No group is the absolute owner of the truth, no leader is exempt from errors, no strategy is infallible. When we learn to communicate without imposing our voice on others, we will be much closer to defeating Operation Babel. If we can understand each other, despite our differences, we can reach the clouds and, as the Greeks would say, take the sky by storm.


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