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Opponents of Cuban government accused of running ‘fake social media campaign’ in bid to sow discontent

OPPONENTS of the Cuban government were accused of running a “fake social media campaign” today in a bid to sow discontent and foment regime change on the socialist island.

Spanish analyst Julian Macias Tovar examined digital networks and found large numbers of spam accounts liked to a right-wing Argentinian who has launched similar operations against leftwingers in Latin America, including former Bolivian president Evo Morales.

Agus Antonelli is alleged to be behind a campaign to derail the Cuban revolution by manipulating the country’s economic crisis, which has been caused by former US president Donald Trump’s tightening of Washington’s long-standing blockade.

The operation has made intensive use of robots, algorithms and accounts created especially to amplify a message of opposition to the Cuban government headed by President Miguel Diaz-Canel.

Mr Antonelli is a leading figure in the right-wing Freedom Foundation, a non-profit think tank which, according to its website, aims at “the promotion of the concept of a free-market society.”

It has the backing of numerous right-wing politicians across Latin America and soon after it was founded received a letter of endorsement from Milton Friedman, widely seen as the father of neoliberal economics.

The foundation receives funding from the US-based Centre for International Private Enterprise.

It is one of three institutions that come under the umbrella of the shady National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the others being the International Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute for Public Affairs.

NED is committed to regime change in the interests of US finance capital, having been established under the Reagan administration in 1983 “to do today what was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA.”

It is known to be funding opposition organisations and media groups inside Cuba in a bid to overthrow the government.

According to Mr Tovar, the first account that used the hashtag #SOSCuba relating to the coronavirus situation in the country was located in Spain. 

It posted more than 1,000 tweets on July 10 and 11, with automation of five retweets per second.

These have then been used by the international media to add fuel to unrest in Cuba and attempt to soften up public support for intervention.

But Mr Tova said that the fact that the tweets used similar wording indicated a co-ordinated campaign, with Mr Tovar saying that the US navy has one of the patterns of automated fake accounts that appeared most frequently in his threads.

Cuban authorities said that “considerable resources are dedicated [to the social media campaign]; it is not something improvised. 

“It is something very well designed, by the structures and agencies of the United States, with laboratories dedicated to create these conditions and achieve their objectives.”

US President Joe Biden has been accused of opportunism after he claimed on Monday that he stands by the Cuban people.

On his orders, the US was one of three countries that voted against a United Nations general assembly motion in favour of lifting the six-decade blockade that has crippled the Cuban economy.

Last year, Washington was accused of “an act of Wild West brutality” after it blocked a shipment of medical supplies from reaching the island.

Two million masks, 400,000 rapid diagnostic kits and 104 ventilators were on board the ship, which was unable to dock because of the US blockade.

Mr Diaz-Canel has said that if the US really cared about the Cuban people, it would lift the embargo, which has cost the island’s economy some $754 billion (£545bn) since it was first imposed in 1959.

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