Weapons of Mass Disinformation

Police arresting demonstrators during protests on July 11, 2021 in Havana. (Marcos Evora)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 24 July 2021 — Debate is ongoing as to whether the 2003 war in Iraq was caused by faulty intelligence that confirmed the existence of weapons of mass destruction or whether those reports were inflated by George W. Bush to justify the invasion. What is not in question is that the lack of transparency senior government officials often employ when dealing with spies and their sources can have devastating consequences.

The distance between Washington and Baghdad is over 6,000 miles, which allowed the American president to claim he had been mislead.

The travel time from Havana and the town of San Antonio de los Baños, where protests on July 11 began, is less half an hour by car, such that President Miguel Diaz-Canel could easily figure out — based on all the booing — that what the protesters were really unhappy about was the way he has been managing the country.

Blaming the disturbances on the imperialist machinations and naively denying widespread popular disgust arises from a need to come up with a pretext for unleashing ruthless repression. This leads to a kind of of reverse engineering in which State Security has to prove that all causes are external.

Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez was the first to present to foreign press reporters in Cuba the results of a study allegedly showing that the hashtag #SOSCuba had originated abroad. Then the smoke cleared and official news media outlets claimed that the protests had been instigated from the United States, later claiming they had been organized by the US government itself.

This was not about finding arms of mass destruction to attack another country but “arms of disinformation” supposedly launched from overseas. It was an attempt to shift blame and justify the incarceration of anyone repeating this alleged disinformation, thus building a bridge of complicity for anyone who might be confused.

It may seem twisted that, in order to maintain the privileges that come from its institutional stature, State Security agencies would exaggerate the alleged threat posed by political adversaries. But what is even more perverse is that the upper echelons of political power would require State Security agents to plant evidence of a crime not committed.


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