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The Verala Project and the CIA  
by Thomas Riggins
June 23, 2004

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There is an amazing attack on John Kerry in Saturday’s (6/19) New York Times, authored by one of the Times’ newly appointed columnists recruited from the ultra-right fringe. David Brooks, whose articles would be right at home in the Washington Times, has attacked Senator Kerry for saying the CIA funded and directed Varela Project to destabilize the Cuban government was "counterproductive." Unlike his opposite number at USA Today (DeWayne Wickham) who two years ago recognized that the "Varela Project is a nonstarter" with Cubans, Brooks is trying to peddle the line that this CIA scheme is actually a homegrown popular Cuban initiative for "democracy.

Brook’s appointment at the Times further solidifies the newly gained reputation of the "paper of record" as an unreliable source of news and information (Jason Blair, WMD’s, etc.). The article in question, "Kerry’s Cruel Realism" reads like a press release from a PR firm for the anti-Cuba lobby or the Miami Mafia.

Here what Brook’s says about the Varela Project. It is "one of the most inspiring democracy movements in the world today." It is led by Oswaldo Paya who, according to Brooks, models himself after Martin Luther King, Jr. To my knowledge Dr. King was not funded by the US government.

Brooks alleges that due to a "loophole" in the Cuban Constitution, Paya’s Varela Project (named after a 19th century Cuban priest who was in the independence movement) collected over 10,000 signatures (he needed notarized signatures which he didn’t get) to force a referendum that would lead to real "democracy" in Cuba. Anyway, it is myth that the Cuban Constitution permits the kind of Referendum Paya is calling for as Wickham’s piece in USA Today reveals.

As a result of a "crackdown" by Cuban authorities, Brooks says, the referendum did not take place and 75 "dissidents" (but not Paya) were sentenced to jail. Kerry, Brooks writes, has shown "his true nature" by calling the Varela Project "counterproductive" thus betraying the hopes of the Cuban people – boo-hoo.

Kerry, it seems, wants to play down "promoting democracy" abroad in favor of "focusing narrowly" on national security. The US promoting democracy! What planet is Brooks from? Every basic democratic movement I can think has been opposed and/or violently destroyed by the US. Who overthrew the democracy in Iran to reinstall the Shah in the 1950s, or the Arbenz government in Guatemala, who invaded Vietnam to prevent the holding of elections to reunify the country because Ho Chih Minh might win, who colluded to overthrow Allende, and created the contra terrorists in Nicaragua? The list of the US attempts to "promote democracy" abroad goes on and on.

As for the Varela Project, both its name and its program were created by the CIA and Oswaldo Paya was hand picked by the Agency to be the leader of this Washington sponsored farce. With all of the resources of the Times, Brooks cannot be ignorant about this.

The 75 so-called "dissidents" were all people who were funded right out of the American Interest Section located in Havana by the American section chief James Cason. Some $20 million, according to press reports, was funneled to the "democracy movement" through organizations associated with the misnamed National Endowment for Democracy a surrogate CIA front which, even though its money mostly comes from the US government, masquerades as an NGO.

How would Attorney General Ashcroft react if he found 75 American citizens carrying on with demonstrations and demanding "real" democracy in the US, who were secretly on the payroll of a foreign government openly dedicated to the destruction of the US government? Would he go for indefinite detention without access to a lawyer or a trail maybe?

Brooks also faults Kerry for turning his back on future "humanitarian interventions" such as the one "to promote democracy in Iraq" (over 16,000 innocent civilians murdered by the US, the torture and killing of defenseless prisoners most of whom were innocent of any crimes, "humanitarian" suspension of the Geneva Accords, etc.).

And to top off his ridiculous article, Brooks says that unlike Kerry, Carter, Reagan and Bush (41) "understood that democracy advances security, kowtowing to dictators does not." Brooks is so ideological he can’t include Clinton in his list. Carter, Reagan, Bush promoted democracy! They funded the worse murdering thugs since the Nazis! The Taliban and their like in Afghanistan, the contras in Latin America (over 200,000 poor peasants and indigenous people killed courtesy of your tax dollar at work – or by illegal funds that democracy promoter and all around humanitarian Ronald Reagan got from the Ayatollahs through illegal arm sales.

That the New York Times prints such nonsense as is churned out by Davis Brooks is reason enough to look to the independent alternative press, such as Political Affairs or the People’s Weekly World for basic information as to what’s happening.

Thomas Riggins is book review editor of Political Affairs ( He can be reached at:

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