Saturday, September 1, 2018

U.S. taxpayers must read this: More than $800 million spent on anti-Cuba fake news

U.S. plan to use Facebook to spread "fake news" on Cuba revealed.

By Rosa Miriam Elizarde.
While the U.S. is making a scene for the alleged Russian interference -via social networks- in the 2016 presidential elections won by Donald Trump, it came to light today how the U.S. government is using Facebook to spread fake news on Cuba and promote secretly dissents in Cuba.
The Florida weekly newspaper Miami New Times published on Wednesday that they have access to documents linked to the Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB), under the care of Radio and TV Marti, where it is revealed that the Trump administration has been using “local” Facebook accounts (as if they were actual people in Cuba owning such accounts) for two years in order to spread propaganda without notifying Cuban users in Facebook that these accounts actually belong to the U.S. government.
According to the report obtained by the weekly newspaper, due to the Radio and TV Marti failure, the OCB strategy has focused on a strong offensive through social networks as ratings show that YouTube, Google, and Facebook are among the most visited websites in Cuba. By using AVRA (Audio and Video for Radio), Radio Marti began streaming live in Facebook Live paired with the TV Marti program planning. It provides OCB with an efficient, add-on, and profitable output either for its radio (visual radio now) or TV content.
In the tax year of 2018, the OCB have recruited digital devices in the island (in other words, “dissidents” paid by the U.S.) that creates “native” Facebook accounts “with no marks” to spread information. In this regard, Cuban users in Facebook see their chances of reading news spread by “native” accounts increased dramatically. The same strategy will be copycatted in other favorite social networks.
The Miami News Times confirmed that the documents do not explain what Federal Agents mean by Facebook accounts “with no marks” or “native,” but it is crystal-clear they are referring to usual users of social networks trying to convince Cubans to read Radio and TV Marti propaganda.
According to the weekly paper, both governmental radio and TV stations have spent more than 800 million USD from American taxpayers in their failed attempt to affect the public opinion in Cuba.
This plan fits in a long history of attempts to use technology to back propaganda against Cuba, claims professor John S. Nichols from the University of Pennsylvania.
“It is certainly a wake-up call here,” says Nichols —co-author of the book Clandestine Radio Broadcasting: A Study of Revolutionary and Counterrevolutionary Electronic Communication (1987) — on the OCB efforts. “This is the newest plan of a long list of efforts Radio and TV Marti are carrying out to go beyond the laws of physics…Every time they cannot meet their goal of sending their message to Cuba, they say a technological solution must be found.”
On the other hand, he adds, “the Congress does not seem to recognize they are a total failure. It is shameful because they are spending the money of American taxpayers. But the truth is that we are throwing away our credibility of a great nation by doing these sort of things, foolishly and silly.”
Prominent figures of both political parties in the U.S. such as Republican Senator for Arizona Jeff Flake have labeled programs like OCB as counter-productive and a waste of money. Democrat representative Betty McCollum finished the AeroMarti platform (broadcast to Cuba from an airplane) in 2015 and confirmed the OCB was an “unnecessary” office.
“Radio and TV Marti are obsolete remnants of the Cold War,” said McCollum in a press release in 2015. “Our taxpayers should not be financing propaganda broadcastings.”
But the programs still continue to exist thanks to a handful of anti-Cuban lawmakers, including Miami Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, a longtime Radio and TV Marti booster, assures Miami New Times.
Earlier this year, Sen. Marco Rubio helped install Tomás Regalado, an old friend, as head of the Radio and TV Marti programs. Since then, Regalado has made grandstanding promises on how both stations have new plans to reach around “5 million” of Cuban citizens in the next few years.
Senator Rubio (central photo) and former Miami mayor Tomas
Regalado; both fierce enemies of the Cuban people.
Last week, Regalado appeared on the Spanish-language U.S. network MegaTV to boast about the use of new mysterious technology that allegedly the Cuban government cannot jam. He said that 200 Cubans had received the alleged receivers that would help in this new attempt.
“It’s a technology that did not exist, and since the Cuban government does not know it, it will be almost impossible to jam it”, Regalado said before the cameras.
Nichols argued to Florida’s weekly that this type of propaganda through social networks is damaging the United States’ standing around the world.
“Third-party countries see what we’re doing and say: ‘There goes the Unites States again doing that dumb stuff’” and adds: “It’s base, mean and not worthy of a great power. Other countries will say: ‘If the U.S. is willing to violate international, why should obey our treaty obligations? I think that has a long-term negative effect. And because of what Radio and TV Marti might be doing right now, it becomes hard for us to complain about what other countries might be doing to us.”
The report accessed by Miami New Times is the budget request of the OCB for fiscal years 2018 and 2019. It does not disclose the identities of the "native" and "unbranded" fake accounts created in the social network, but Facebook administrators do 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 remove hundreds of alleged fake accounts of Russians and Iranians allegedly involved in several misinformation campaigns.
Will Facebook also remove the fake accounts created by the government of the United States for the regime change in Cuba?
Will the US Attorney’s Office 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?
Failed saga Radio y TV Martí
•1985: Radio Martí began to broadcast, and five years later, thetelevision aggression kicked off with the entry into service of a transmitter located in an aerostat tethered about 10,000 feet above the Florida Keys.
•2005: Hurricane Dennis destroyed the tethered balloon located 10,000 feet above Cudjoe Key, where TV Marti was broadcast from. The OCB replaced it with the “AeroMarti” platform.
•2014: The OCB created the spam-text-message service Piramideo (Pyramid), which failed. So, it tried to smuggle small satellite devices into the island, but the project was aborted because, besides costly, the “dissidents” used the terminals for pornography.
•2015: “AeroMarti” was dismantled.
•2018: President Trump created a Cuba Internet Task Force, which according to the Department of State “will examine the technological challenges and opportunities for expanding Internet access and independent media in Cuba.” It’s evident that this Task Force has encouraged the digital fantasy of the OCB.
•Several investigations of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) have acknowledged there are solid evidences that *Radio and TV Martí aren’t listened to or watched in Cuba.
*According to Miami New Times, this saga has cost US taxpayers over $800 million.

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Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann.