These days John David McAfee, the controversial software engineer and British-American entrepreneur of the baby boomer generation, is getting media attention. His passage through Cuba weeks ago, his many tweets from the island have left a news trail behind him.
In 1987 he achieved commercial success as the creator of the first antivirus software that bears his surname. At the top of his wealth, his net worth exceeded 100 million dollars. But after the 2008 financial crisis, he lost most of his fortune.
Politically, he is known for his affiliation with the Libertarian Party (1971), a consequence of the existing atmosphere during the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War. His agenda’s hard core includes a peculiar appropriation of issues/problems characteristic of U.S. political culture, in this case, its commitment to dual government minimum/maximum freedoms, the defense of laissez faire, low taxes and the possession of weapons as a right guaranteed by the second amendment to the Constitution. In the 2016 election McAfee sought the nomination of the Libertarian Party for president of the United States, but lost to former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson.
The CIA has attempted to collect us. We are at sea now and will report more soon. I will continue to be dark for the next few days. pic.twitter.com/o79zsbxISl
— John McAfee (@officialmcafee) July 19, 2019
If you briefly review his relations with Central American and Caribbean societies―those places where you go in search of the impossible in the First World―, perhaps the above is better perceived.
In 2012, one of his properties in Belize was raided by the police. A press release said he was arrested for illicit drug manufacturing and illegal possession of weapons, but he was released. Afterwards, the police themselves considered him a “person of interest” in connection with the murder of American Gregory Viant Faull, his neighbor killed by a gunshot wound in November 2012. Belize Prime Minister Dean Barrow, who was not a member of the CIA, described him as an “extremely paranoid, even crazy” guy. They called him “the Donald Trump of Belize.”
From there he left for Guatemala, where he tried to seek political asylum, finally denied by the government of that country. He was then deported to the United States. On August 2, 2015 he was arrested in Henderson, Tennessee, for driving under the influence and for carrying a firearm while intoxicated.
He said in a televised interview: “I have to keep people’s attention on me. I can be the bad guy, the good guy or the fool. Or all three things at once. Whichever.”
Earlier this year, U.S. authorities accused McAfee, his wife Janice and four staff members of tax fraud. In May, the following statement appeared on the social networks: “The development of events has made it necessary for John McAfee to be dark.”
That darkness ended in Cuba. One day he landed as a tourist in the Marina Hemingway, from Key West, and began a rather noisy campaign announcing his nomination as a candidate of the Libertarian Party for the presidential elections of 2020, a true contradiction considering the existence of clear and distinct federal regulations in this regard. He said he had been forced to establish his headquarters in Cuba because in the United States “he was being politically persecuted.”
Visited Finca Vigia – Hemingway's final residence in Cuba today. It was a moving experience for me. I have always admired Hemingway's fearlessness, his willingness to stand up to injustice and his love for the common people. There are few like him left in the world. pic.twitter.com/7pFYZVO47T
— John McAfee (@officialmcafee) July 13, 2019
During the time he was on the island, his vision of Cuban culture was codified, flat, conventional and even grotesque, closer to “I’ll See You in C-U-B-A,” Win Wenders and Buena Vista Social Club than a really alternative approach, not even when trying to get to the other side of the mainstream.
There are several ways of not understanding anything. And his was, without a doubt, one of them. McAfee didn’t even bother to verify how many millions of Cubans there were on the island: it’s not 14 but 11.2. Nor did he inquire about the relationship between wages and prices in a country that has just announced an increase of the first in the budgeted sector. The photos in the agricultural markets that he published on his Twitter account mean little or almost nothing if they are not escorted by a necessary contextualization. McAfee swallowed it, like far away.
Still looking for the "Starving Cubans eating rats" as reported in @WSJ. Yesterday we ventured into the poorest parts of Cuba. Everywhere, people wore clean clothes and no one begged for anything. We saw no homeless and food was plentiful. 1 million homeles in the U.S. Wake up! pic.twitter.com/QPnysDo5VH
— John McAfee (@officialmcafee) July 13, 2019
He also offered the government his help for the creation of a cryptocurrency, perhaps thinking that he could become a new Robert Vesco. “Cuba plans to use cryptocurrency to overcome the 63 years of economic asphyxiation imposed on 14 million Cubans by the madness of the United States government.” He even offered his help: “If Cuba wants my help, I’m here.”
The question that has not been answered so far is why he left the island to appear, suddenly, in the Dominican Republic. But he did it abruptly. At the end of July, all members of his peculiar troop were arrested while his yacht was docked in Puerto Plata on suspicion of carrying high-caliber weapons and ammunition. They were held for four days until they were released and given carte blanche to continue on their way, this time to London, where they are now.
He has previously said: “My voice is the voice of dissent. If they silence me, dissent itself will follow.”
Then: “If Cuba extradites me, I will be silenced forever.”
He made himself scarce. One thing, however, seems true: his silence is impossible.
— John McAfee (@officialmcafee) July 11, 2019