One Way To Score An Invite To Cuba

July 1st, 2009 by Ilya Marritz

Ah, the hazards of flirting around on the internet!

Using an elaborate fake online persona, Cuban exile and activist Luis Dominguez scored an invitation to Cuba from none other than Antonio Castro (son of Fidel).

Dominguez introduced himself  as “Claudia Valencia”, a beautiful Colombian woman who “met” Castro at a baseball game in Colombia (apparently there really were a lot of foxy ladies at that stadium in Cartagena). A months-long correspondence ensued, including online chats that lasted as long as six hours, ABC News reports.

Although “Claudia” usually kept her chats with Castro focused on romantic topics, Dominguez told ABC that he was able to use “Claudia” to get insight on Fidel Castro’s health, information he then shared with officials in Miami.

“On Jan. 15, in Miami, the rumors were huge that his father was dying,” Dominguez said. “That night, he spent over an hour and a half talking to me. To me, that meant that his father was alive and that proved to be correct.”

Dominguez didn’t actually gather much valuable intel, but the propaganda value of the correspondence should be considerable, at least outside of Cuba.  (Inside, internet access is limited.) Dominguez has posted much of it online (in Spanish).

It’s not exactly live-tweeting the revolution in Iran, but “Claudia Valencia” is a modest example of how global electronic communications can be used to rattle sclerotic regimes.

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