The existence of the foundation, called Genesis, was to be revealed only after the Cuban revolution fell.
It was a project of the CIA.
Capote, a university professor, said the CIA recruited him to lead the effort in 2005. What the spy agency didn’t know, Capote said, is that he was a double agent who was reporting back to Cuban intelligence officials.
He said his No. 1 goal, as Agent Daniel, was to “defend my country.”
Capote’s story could not be immediately verified. See 28-minute interview on the Cuba Money Project’s Vimeo channel.
Capote is the former vice president of the Association Hermanos Saiz in Cienfuegos. He said American officials at the U.S. Interests Section in Havana took interest in him in the late ’90s, starting a relationship that lasted years.
U.S. officials soon offered to help finance and promote a literary agency that Capote would manage. It was to be called Agencia Literaria Cubana Online.
The U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID, provided financial support and scholarships. The non-profit Pan American Development Foundation, or PADF, assisted with the effort.
Capote said he believes American officials didn’t just want to start a literary agency. They wanted to:
- Cultivate young Cuban intellectuals who were disillusioned with the country’s direction.
- Form a leadership organization – the Genesis foundation.
- Establish a U.S.-supported team of allies that would lead Cuba in the post-Castro era.
Capote said his U.S. contacts set him up with a mobile broadband communication system like those that jailed subcontractor Alan Gross was distributing before his 2009 arrest.
He said he used the equipment to send reports to his American handlers.
They requested reports on such things as the views of young people and reaction to U.S. congressional visits to Cuba.
Capote said the U.S. paid him tens of thousands of dollars – including $8,000 in 2008 alone – for his reports.
He cooperated, sending accurate information.
He said if the plan had succeeded and the Cuban government had fallen, he would have headed the Genesis Foundation and would have been a “kingmaker” with the ability to pick the nation’s potential leaders.
Capote said he doesn’t believe the U.S.-financed project did much to promote democracy in Cuba.
Nor was the literary agency a success, he said. It received funding for a website, but that was never set up.
Capote said PADF sent books and office material to Cuba, but program resources were often diverted, Capote said.
He said Mexican, Peruvian, Bolivian and other middlemen sometimes asked him to tell Washington the money and other aid had reached democracy activists.
In reality, he said, some middlemen kept the money for themselves or spent it on recreation in Cuba, sometimes traveling to the beach resort of Varadero.
Other middlemen would claim that airport authorities confiscated equipment so they could easily keep the cargo for themselves. Said Capote:
The money is misspent.