Sunday, November 27, 2011

"Cyber Commandos spill phone numbers of Top Cuban Officials"

By Juan O. Tamayo

Want to know the home address of Cuban ruler Raúl Castro’s daughter? How about the home phone number for his No. 2, José Ramon Machado Ventura? Or the cell number for Minister of Communications Ramiro Valdés?

A Miami-based website is publishing those and myriad other details on the private lives of top Cuban officials, saying it wants to warn “the darlings of the dictatorship” that they will face a dark future if the government collapses.

Also obtained from inside Cuba are digital lists of the cell phone numbers for tens of thousands of security and intelligence officers, and the street addresses of virtually every single military base on the island, contributors to the site say.

The leak of such personal details, out of a communist-ruled country where secrecy has long been paramount, reflects the Castro government’s growing inability to control the flow of information in the age of the Internet.

“Technology is going to destroy them,” said one post on the website CubaalDescubierto — Cuba Uncovered — where the details are being posted by FUEGO, or “fire,” a group that claims to be made up of Cubans in Cuba and on the outside.

The site already has published what it says are the home addresses, phone numbers and other personal information of more than 20 top Cubans since it started posting those kinds of details about six weeks ago.

They include Machado Ventura, Castro’s No. 2 in the ruling Council of State and the Communist Party; former Defense Minister Julio Casas, who died Sept. 3; and Valdés, a former Interior Minister, widely viewed as one of Cuba’s most powerful officials.

It also published the address and home phone of Castro’s daughter Deborah and her husband, Luis Alberto Rodriguez López Callejas, an army colonel who runs military-owned businesses that account for an estimated 60 percent of the island’s economy.

The addresses and phone numbers for Angela and Agustina Castro Ruz, sisters to Raúl and Fidel Castro, and for Sonia and Jose Alejandro Espin, sister and brother of Raúl Castro’s late wife, Vilma Espin, also appeared on the page.

El Nuevo Herald could not confirm all of the details published, but its calls to eight of the phone numbers confirmed that five were correct. One was confirmed by a female relative and two by housemaids. Three others did not answer, including Valdes’ purported cell.

Percy Alvarado, identified by the Cuban government in the late 1990s as one of its intelligence operatives, told El Nuevo Herald that he received a threatening call on his cellular phone earlier this month from people who identified themselves as members of FUEGO.

He called the publication of the addresses and phone numbers a “flagrant violation of the right to privacy and international laws.”

Miami blogger Aldo Rosado Tuero, a member of FUEGO and publisher of the blog Nuevo Acción, said publishing the details about the Cuban officials and relatives was designed to “send some of them the message that they are known, that we know where they live.”

“We also want to try to push these people to ease the repression [against dissidents] in Cuba, and we believe there should be some record for the future, so that crimes do not go unpunished

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