The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation held the digital conference “The Cuban Threat in Latin America” on May 14. Among the topics discussed were the influence of Cuba in Venezuela and Nicaragua, and how disinformation campaigns promoted by Havana have been destroying democracies and maintaining military interventions in those countries.
Dr. Carlos Ponce, senior fellow and director of Latin American Programs at the foundation hosted the conference, which featured Carrie Filipetti, deputy assistant secretary for Cuba and Venezuela at the U.S. Department of State as the keynote speaker.
“We are looking at how mysteriously Cuba is really penetrating, not just Latin America, but the world with its human rights abuses, support for terrorism, and ideology. And one of the best ways that it does that is through misinformation, through the attempt at hiding the truth,” said Filipetti during her opening remarks. “When we now talk about victims of communism, we are talking not just about those who have been murdered by communist regimes, or those who have seen their family members harassed, abused, or detained, but those whose children have been stripped away. What we are really talking about is another critical victim, the truth,” she continued.
Disinformation affects us all
Filipetti said that disinformation is a threat that affects every individual Cuban’s life and livelihood. She focused on two specific areas: Cuba’s disinformation regarding its role in Venezuela and the COVID-19 response.
“It goes much further than just the Cubans supporting the Venezuelan regime. It is really a parasitic relationship between the Cuban regime and the Maduro team, so much so that it makes them virtually indistinguishable. In fact, according to eye-witness reports, Cuba’s ambassador to Venezuela directly organizes and oversees Maduro’s counterintelligence units, which are the same units responsible for torture and repression in Venezuela,” Filipetti said. “No abuse is committed in Venezuela without the Cuban ambassador’s knowledge and that is not surprising. Maduro himself, actually, recently stated that the Cuban ambassador is practically a member of the Venezuelan council of ministers.”
Maduro is an agent of the Castro regime
The Department of State official went on to say that there are 25,000 Cubans working in Venezuela and over the past 20 years, Cuba and Venezuela have signed more than 1,400 agreements. “So, truth be told, Nicolás Maduro is a de facto agent of the Castro regime.”
When it comes to COVID-19, Filipetti sees that the threat posed by the virus is perhaps equaled only by the threat posed by disinformation about the virus itself. She sees a complete lack of transparency in providing critical health care information including data about infection rates, successful treatments, and more. “In Venezuela for example, we have seen doctors and journalists in prison for sharing accurate and up-to-date information about the spread of COVID-19 in the country,” she said. “And this all matters because what COVID-19 shows us more than ever is that we cannot tolerate this disinformation in even one country, because ultimately what affects one of us, affects all of us.”
According to Filipetti, her office confronts disinformation in Cuba in a number of ways, including taking the issue to international institutions, such as the Organization of American States and the United Nations.