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Digital State Terrorism in Cuba, Bolivia and Nicaragua Cannot Continue to Go Unpunished

Terrorismo de Estado digital de Cuba, Bolivia y Nicaragua no puede seguir impune, EFE

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META, the parent company of Facebook, Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp, announced last February 23 that it “dismantled networks of fake accounts in Cuba and Bolivia, which it linked to the governments of those countries and which were used to disseminate pro-government messages and discredit people”, the same as the dismantled network in Nicaragua in 2021. These are serious, flagrant crimes committed by and in the dictatorships of Cuba, Bolivia and Nicaragua, digital state terrorism that cannot go unpunished.

Ben Nimmo, META’s Global Threat Intelligence Leader, reported in a video conference that “they tried to hide who was behind it, but our investigation found links to the Cuban government”, adding that “something similar happened in the case of Bolivia”, as “the investigation led to links to the government, to the ruling party Movimiento al Socialismo after its return to power in 2020 and a group called Guerreros Digitales”.

In Cuba, which was for decades one of the least connected countries in the world, Meta deactivated 363 Facebook accounts, 270 pages and 229 groups, plus 72 on Instagram and the operation included other social networks such as YouTube, TikTok and Twiter, as Infobae reported on February 23.

David Agranovich, META’s Director of Threat Disruption, reported that “in Bolivia some 1,600 accounts, pages and groups operating in bunkers in La Paz and Santa Cruz were deactivated”, said that “they coordinated their efforts to use fake accounts, publish support for the Bolivian government and criticize and harass the opposition”. He further explained that some 650,000 people followed one or more of the pages of the Cuban network, some 510,000 joined the Cuban groups” and that “in the Bolivian case more than two million accounts followed the pages.”

Regarding Nicaragua, already on November 1, 2021, Facebook gave an account that it “eliminated a troll farm” noting that it was “administered by the government of Daniel Ortega and his Sandinista Liberation Front party”, giving an account that it “deleted 937 Facebook accounts, 140 pages, 24 groups and 363 Instagram accounts” and that “the operation extended to a network of blogs, websites and social networking assets on TikTok, Twitter, YouTube, BlogSpot and Telegram” as reported by Reuters.

The investigation provided by META’s personnel constitutes definitive proof of flagrant crimes of material falsehood, ideological falsehood, use of forged instruments, a criminal consortium in structured groups, slander, defamation, impersonation, creation and dissemination of false news, terrorism, attacks against the public faith and more crimes committed from and with the coordination of the regimes headed by Raul Castro/Miguel Díaz-Canel, Evo Morales/Luis Arce and Daniel Ortega/Rosario Murillo. It is Castro-Chavismo or 21st-century socialism.

The implementation, operation, and expansion of fake accounts and social networks by the dictatorships of 21st-century socialism is the expression of the new form of “digital State terrorism”, since “they commit crimes from the power they hold with the purpose of generating fear in the population so that it assumes behaviors that otherwise would not be possible”.

Using falsified accounts to disseminate false content also attributing favorable aspects that dictatorships do not have is a crime, but it is a greater crime to use falsifications to seek to destroy the defenders of freedom and democracy to the true opposition that inside and outside the territories controlled by dictatorships are permanently persecuted with the “character assassination” defined as “the deliberate and sustained process aimed at destroying the credibility and reputation of a person, institution, social group or nation.”

These operations are highly costly, since in addition to technological access, equipment and the paid dissemination of false messages and falsified narratives, the dictatorships of Cuba, Bolivia and Nicaragua maintain hundreds of individuals committing these crimes from centers or bunkers established by the regimes. The resources for these crimes are dark money, coming from other crimes such as embezzlement and corruption of public funds and eventually from drug trafficking given the narco-state nature of these countries.

The “technological State terrorism” covers a very extensive list of crimes, but all of them are typified in the criminal legislations of the member countries of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime or Palermo Convention. Cuba, Bolivia and Nicaragua have signed and ratified this Convention and the “structured groups” of criminals under the command and responsibility of Castro/Díaz-Canel, Morales/Arce and Murillo/Ortega have been demonstrated.

To end impunity there is a legal instrument: the Palermo Convention, the proof is public and full, the criminals are identified, and it only remains that democracies and their leaders are encouraged to fulfill their obligations.

This article is part of an agreement between El American and the Interamerican Institute for Democracy.

Carlos Sánchez Berzain es abogado, politólogo, máster en ciencia política y sociología. Catedrático. Estadista perseguido y exiliado político. Director del Interamerican Institute for Democracy // Carlos Sánchez Berzain is a lawyer, political scientist, with a master's degree in political science and sociology. Professor. Persecuted statesman and political exile. Director of the Interamerican Institute for Democracy.