Skip to comments.Ex-CIA Agent Pitches Cuba As Cure
Posted on 11/18/2001 1:52:49 PM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
HAVANA (AP) - ``Stressed Out from the World Crisis?'' says the Web page, under a picture of an idyllic beach. ``Need Relief from Everyday Anxieties? Give Yourself a Break in Cuba, the Safest Country in the World.''
Philip Agee, CIA agent-turned travel promoter, is capitalizing on post-Sept. 11 jitters to lure American tourists to Cuba.
Other travel agencies specializing in U.S. travel to Cuba have also promoted the island's safety record, but few go as far as to sell it as a refuge from terrorism.
``When I first thought of this promotion I was worried that people might think I was exploiting people's fears,'' Agee said. ``But then I thought, this is exactly what Americans need now.''
Agee became famous for his 1975 tell-all book about his years with the CIA, an expose that cost him his passport and eventually landed him in Cuba where he launched his travel agency last year.
He's 66 now, a small, soft-spoken native of Tampa, Fla. He runs his business out of a fourth-floor apartment in Havana's palm-fringed Vedado neighborhood. The elevator is often broken and his office is sparse, with only a few pieces of basic furniture.
On the wall is a picture of Agee with Cuba's leader, Fidel Castro.
On the site, www.cubalinda.com, tourists can book weekend getaway trips to Havana starting at $150 plus airfare. Camper vans and cell phones can be rented.
Agee wears his political colors up front. His goal, the Web site says, is ``To continue solidarity activities with the revolution by presenting Cuban realities to the world on-line,'' and ``help to correct the many years of lies and distortions fomented by the U.S. government.''
Besides architecture, music, beaches and rich culture, Cuba enjoys an obvious buffer from foreign attacks on Americans; crimes against foreigners are rare, and Americans on the island even rarer.
But Cuba is under U.S. economic embargo, and Agee's challenge is to convince Americans to buck a U.S. law that prohibits them from spending money in Cuba except in special circumstances.
Violators can be fined up to $55,000, but Agee says the U.S. government seldom follows through. President Bush has said he will move to enforce the rules more strictly, but at the same time moves are afoot in Congress to ease the ban. Repeated calls to the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control for comment were not returned.
The New York-based U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council estimates 173,000 Americans visited Cuba last year, including 22,000 in defiance of the travel ban.
Agee quit the CIA in 1969 after 12 years, working mostly in Latin America during the years that leftist movements were gaining prominence.
His book, ``Inside the Company: CIA Diary'' cited alleged CIA misdeeds against leftists in Latin America and included a 22-page list of purported agency operatives.
His travel agency is commercial, ``but getting Americans to Cuba is also political,'' he said. ``A long time ago I was in the business of telling lies for the CIA. Today, I'm trying to dispel some of those lies.''
Agee's American passport was revoked in 1979 after he was ruled a threat to U.S. national security. He entered Cuba on a German travel document.
He still keeps an apartment in Germany with his wife but has been living mainly in Cuba for the last three years. Because of a housing shortage, he sleeps in his office.
The Cuban government requires him to have state-operated Cubatur as a partner. Through Cubatour he pays his 13 employees a total of about $3,000 a month.
He says he has yet to turn a profit. Things were looking hopeful, ``but then Sept. 11 happened,'' he said. ``This year we've arranged trips for 400 people to Cuba this year, most of whom were Americans. We were on our way to having 600.''
Some have canceled trips while others have postponed.
``We didn't come here necessarily to get away from concerns over bioterrorism, but we definitely feel safer in Cuba than we would in our own town,'' said Gordon Fulton, an attorney from Berkeley, Calif., who obtained U.S. permission for a visit and arranged his trip independently. ``We didn't want to cancel.''
As for why tourists should feel safer in Cuba than, say, Canada, Agee says: ``Cuba's a heck of lot more fun than Canada is.''
The real cause of Cuba's hardship is not the embargo but the state's Soviet-style economy. Traditional exports such as sugar cost the regime more to produce than they sell for on the global market. Tourism brings in hard currency but not nearly enough to provide for Cuba's needs. Debt payments are so uncertain that major trade partners often must extend new loans.--(End Excerpt)
Ex-ambassadors debate Cuba policy, agree to disagree--[End Excerpt} Sally Grooms Cowal, president of the anti-embargo Cuba Policy Foundation and a former ambassador to Trinidad, said the United States has not succeeded in 40 years in bringing democratic reform to Cuba through the embargo.
``That hasn't happened,'' she said. ``Is there a corporation in the United States that would not change its practices if they had been a 40-year failure?''
``America cannot afford to continue a policy that's based on 40 years of failure,'' she said.
Cowal described her organization as ``centrist'' and said she has no illusions about the true nature of Cuba.
``I am not a naive Cuba apologist,'' she said. [End Excerpt]
Friends of Fidel--Washington Times--[Excerpt] Louisiana rice and Illinois wheat producers should not assume that selling to Havana is synonymous with getting paid. U.S taxpayers should be wary. Mr. Castro desperately needs credits and subsidies, and Washington is being pressured to provide them.
If the United States begins to subsidize trade with Cuba estimated at $100 million a year five years from now, U.S. taxpayers could be holding, or paying off, a $500 million tab. That´s real money.
Before extending Mr. Castro credit, grain growers should visit any street corner in Manhattan and observe a game played there. Called three-card monte, it consists of convincing the player that he knows exactly where the card carrying his money is. Until it disappears. In this game, the gambler takes his own chances. Where trade with Mr. Castro is concerned, the U.S. taxpayer will be left holding the losing card. --[End Excerpt]
Woman Passed Classified Information on Military Exercises, FBI Says [ "This has been a very important investigation, because it does show our national defense information is still being targeted by the Cuban intelligence service," said Van A. Harp, assistant director in charge of the FBI's Washington field office.][End Excerpt]
He's billing it as a safe place. I guess he's a living, breathing example.
Why don't we advocate what this guy is saying another way? Let us go and steal his property via terrorism, then set up his property as a club house for the people and foreign tourists from where you can relax and be taken care of.
These people make me want to kill them.
Foreign Assets Control Regs Specially Designated Nationals List of blocked persons: ANGELINI, Alejandro Abood, Panama (individual) [CUBA]
Sources close to the case have said Vesco was denounced by his foreign business partners, leading to the investigation.
The Foreign Ministry said in June of last year that Vesco was being investigated on suspicion of being an ``agent for foreign special services.''--- HAVANA - Fugitive U.S. financier Robert Vesco, detained in Cuba a year ago, will go on trial on Thursday on charges of fraud and other economic crimes ..
I guess this is how Castro gets rid of his business partners. If you dance with the devil, you have to pay the piper.
Safest country in the world bump.
Accepting US terms after allowing the human sacrifices that would satisfy a finaly satiated communist god on the altar of socialist demagoguery would be evil.
I am not saying we should make war on nations at peace with us, since that is not doable withing our means and it must be God's deed, but tHis CIA man certainly needs to be tried and hung for treason.
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