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Cuban ‘dissident’ says he was really an infiltrator

Posted on Wednesday, 07.09.14

Cuban ‘dissident’ says he was really an infiltrator
Lawyer Ernesto Vera said his main task was to attack and sow discord
within two key Cuban opposition groups on the island.
BY JUAN O. TAMAYO
JTAMAYO@ELNUEVOHERALD.COM

A Cuban lawyer has confessed that he was a State Security collaborator
for the four years he spent portraying himself as a dissident and
harshly attacking two of the country’s most active opposition groups.

Ernesto Vera, 34, had been accused of being a collaborator last year,
but his confession cast a rare spotlight on how State Security agents
recruit informants and pay them thousands of dollars to discredit
dissidents and generate rivalries among them.

Vera also pointed a finger at five other Cubans who in his view have
been suspiciously critical of the Cuban Patriotic Union (UNPACU) and the
Ladies in White, the largest and most aggressive dissident groups on the
communist-ruled island.

“My mission within State Security was to disparage and discredit UNPACU,
especially its leader, José Daniel Ferrer, and the Ladies in White,”
Vera told el Nuevo Herald by phone Wednesday from his home in the
eastern city of Santiago De Cuba.

But he said he sat for a 44-minute video taped confession to Ferrer
earlier this month because he was “disgusted with so many lies, the
double life and faking a friendly relationship with people I hated so much.”

The two men shook hands at the end of the video.

State Security began the slow work of recruiting him as “Agent Jorge”
after he was fired as a law professor at a medical school in Santiago,
he said. Until then, he had been only on the periphery of dissident groups.

People who identified themselves as dissidents arranged to meet him in
public places. But they were State Security agents and their meetings
were videotaped — recordings then used to blackmail him into becoming an
informant in 2010, Vera said. They also threatened to kill his mother
and make it look like an accident unless he cooperated.

“I am ashamed to say I was a coward,” he told el Nuevo Herald,
confirming that he had recorded the talk with Ferrer and written a
three-page confession dated July 5 and published Tuesday by UNPACU.

“All of my attacks on José Daniel Ferrer and the Ladies in White were
ordered by State Security,” he said. They were part of a one-two punch,
“to discredit the dissidents and lessen the impact of the repression
when it came.”

The lawyer said he falsely accused Ferrer of stealing money sent by
supporters abroad and abusing his wife. He and another infiltrator also
sparked the biggest schism within the Ladies in White, causing about 30
members in Santiago to break with the main group.

Vera said he wrote the attacks with information and photos provided by
State Security Col. Ernesto Samper. He was paid several thousand dollars
over four years so he could send his columns abroad via the Internet,
which costs $6 to $10 per hour in Cuba.

He said Samper also gave him specific instructions to send his columns
attacking UNPACU and the Ladies in White to Miami exile Aldo Rosado
Tuero, administrator of the anti-Castro blog Nueva Accion, and assured
him that Rosado would publish them.

Rosado, a steadfast critic of Ferrer and longtime radical opponent of
the Castro government, said Wednesday that he was not a Cuban agent and
accused Ferrer and Vera of joining forces with State Security to attack him.

Vera’s confession was not a surprise because Ferrer had unmasked him in
October with hard evidence. State Security is known to target almost
every dissident group on the island nation for infiltration and has even
reportedly started a few.

One knowledgeable Miami exile said he was concerned with Vera’s
identification of other agents of State Security, also known as G2. “The
guy who says he was G2 now can say someone else is G2 and create a lot
of problems,” said the author. He asked to remain anonymous because of
the sensitivity of the topic.

Vera said he began distancing himself from State Security about one year
into his work as a collaborator, refusing to submit written reports,
then missing scheduled meetings with his handlers and refusing to write
more attack columns.

Over the past two years, he suffered bouts of depression, he said. And
State Security officials told him they knew that he was really opposed
to the Castro government but didn’t care as long as he kept writing his
attack columns.

He finally broke with State Security earlier this year, after delivering
an open letter to the Venezuelan embassy in Havana condemning the harsh
crackdown on anti-government protesters in the oil-rich nation that left
more than 40 dead.

“For four years my life has been a constant suffering,” he wrote in the
letter, published by UNPACU. “I should have been brave, should have
confronted the repression in all its harshness. But I lacked the fuel
that heroes have in surplus.”

He is afraid of government retaliation against him or his mother for his
confession, Vera wrote. “I hold the Castro regime responsible for
anything that could happen to my family.”

But he has decided “to work 100 percent for the democracy of my country
without giving in to pressures or blackmail,” he said. He has been in
talks with Ferrer for about a month and hopes to work as a legal adviser
to UNPACU, he added.

Ferrer, who spent eight years in prison and was freed in 2011, praised
Vera for publicly confessing his work as an infiltrator and said it
showed the perfidy of the government.

“The government says we’re tiny groups always fighting with each other,”
he said. “But then it puts us in jail and sends infiltrators to sow
discord among us precisely because of our strong work for democracy.”

Source: Cuban ‘dissident’ says he was really an infiltrator – Cuba –
MiamiHerald.com –
http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/07/09/4227304/cuban-dissident-says-he-was-really.html

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