Cuban Government Shuts Down Businesses of Son of Former Minister of the Interior / Juan Juan Almeida

José Raúl Colomé

Juan Juan Almeida, 6 December 2017 — José Raúl Colomé, son of former Minister of the Interior Abelardo (Furry) Colomé Ibarra, and Osmani Cisneros, son of the late leader Ángel Cisneros, both with extensive experience in food service and successful as private businessmen, are involved in a criminal proceeding that seems to lack logic.

Several establishments owned by them have been closed by the authorities, and the very busy Starbien restaurant, located on Calle 29 # 205 between B and C, in Vedado, has already been confiscated and repurposed as a children’s shelter.

“Even though the court has not ruled against them, the two self-employed people were subject to a precautionary measure without any justification,” a specialist in labor law who works for the legal department of the National Tax Administration Organization (ONAT) informed Martí Noticias.

As part of the government’s war against self-employment, another restaurant run by Colomé and Cisneros, El Chachachá, located in Monserrate between Tejadillo and Chacón, just behind the Museum of the Revolution, was also closed.

According to the lawyer, the restaurant Starbien offered an exquisite service at affordable prices and managed to stay among the first choice of Cubans and and international tourists for merging service and culinary innovation.

In a short time it went from a quiet but fashionable restaurant to part of a private entrepreneurial group with entrepreneurial leadership. The group bought parts of other restaurants, offered workshops on the use of social networks, financed projects for new entrepreneurs, fostered social works in their environment and distanced itself from many by adopting an aggressive strategy, such as seizing opportunities to expand trade within and outside the island.

The Ministries of Finance and Prices and of Labor and Social Security, along with ONAT, regulate the obligations of Cuban entrepreneurs, but in none of their many ordinances is it clear what the rights are, and what defense or protection is available to the self-employed with aspirations to multiply businesses.

The curiosity that this case arouses is understandable, because it involves one of the children of the once powerful General Colomé Ibarra.

The versions shared in the street accuse Colomé and Cisneros of crimes such as money laundering, drug trafficking, influence and others, but the record of the case fails to show any act of corruption, or alteration of the rules established for the private sector, according to reports obtained by Martí Noticias.

“The process that the authorities try to follow against these two entrepreneurs does not have legal logic. It seems to be a settling of accounts ordered by someone who wants to and can make use of the law at will, and also institutions and the national legal-normative order,” said the source.

The new strategy of the government — according to the source — is to turn the rifle of the state sniper towards another sector of those engaged in private initiatives, such as that of non-agricultural construction and/or production cooperatives.