14ymedio, Havana, 29 October 2022 — On Wednesday, Former Cuban Television presenter María Victoria “Vicky” Gil Fernández, resident of Tenerife, gave an extensive and controversial interview on the YouTube channel “The World of Darwin,” in which she offered biographical details about her brother, Alejandro Gil, the Minister of Economy of Cuba, and her former colleague, Edmundo García.
She considered her statement on the Miami channel an “obligation” to Cubans, and said that she had the “right to be able” to defend herself. She noted her 35 years of work as a presenter of the program De la gran escena [The Big Scene] and considered her interview as “a vindication.”
Vicky, as she is also known, said that State Security monitors and controls the content of Cuban Television. “Everything that is said goes through a sieve; everyone knows that,” she admitted, before sharing personal anecdotes about the censorship of several broadcasts of De la gran escena. “There is no freedom of the press nor of ideas in a dictatorship,” she said bluntly. “No one is afraid to say it: it’s a dictatorship,” although, she added ironically, “of the proletariat.”
The presenter commented on her ties with journalist Edmundo García, one of the most controversial characters linked to the Cuban government from the United States. “He was imposed” on the television program in the forced replacement of Omar Moynelo, she remarked.
She described García as a guajiro [peasant] from the interior of the country who quickly entered the world of art trafficking as he gained fame on the program, Vicky commented. “According to him, his friends were Vargas Llosa, Miguel Barnet, and his way of life was of the high bourgeoisie.” He had bodyguards, mobile phones and cars when no one could have them, she claimed.
“His life was not that of a communist, and he acquired a fortune in the International Financial Bank” from money he obtained in his business of buying and selling paintings. Gil detailed how she also participated in art trafficking and obtained her slice, although not at the level of García, who was often arrested by the police and released shortly after thanks to his connections.
She said that García, with the complicity of journalist Ciro Bianchi Ross and the family of Antonio Núñez Jiménez, was responsible for the sale of a fake Picasso painting to an Italian collector. For the scam, Gil said, they earned $200,000. The Italian, of course, returned to Cuba to file a complaint, but the participants were left unpunished “for absence of evidence.”
“They removed him from the program without doing anything,” says Gil, who also wasn’t clear about the causes of Edmundo García’s expulsion and didn’t know anything about his “mission” in Miami.
In the second segment of the interview, the presenter referred to her brother, Alejandro Gil, whom she considers “a communist.” “My brother has no need to be where he is,” she said, but “he blindly believes that he will be able to move the country forward.”
Alejandro Gil graduated as an engineer in Maritime Transport Development from the Technological University of Havana (CUJAE), a profession that has little relation to his current position as Minister of Economy. “I can’t exempt him from his responsibility,” Vicky acknowledged, alluding to the current crisis in every sector that the country is going through. “I can’t even say that I’m a puppet sister.”
“The Cuban economy has always been led by incompetent people,” she concluded. “Political will has always triumphed over economic reality.” She added that Cuba can only grow financially through “its beaches, nickel and the poor doctors.” María Victoria Gil discredited the Ordering Task*, whose failure could be easily predicted.
“Give me time,” has always been her brother’s response, “convinced” that his recipe to save the economy is the right one, according to her.
“My brother was a tycoon,” she says unequivocally, recalling his very successful career in a maritime insurance company in the United Kingdom. He was a member of several international clubs in London, Russia and Havana. He “left everything,” she explains, “for communism and stupidity.” Back in Cuba on one of his trips they made his head spin with flags and honors, and he became part of the government apparatus. “My family wanted to kill him,” she said.
Vicky defended herself from the accusations of being “a figurehead of the Castros” and said she had bought a small, charming place of just 150 square feet in Tenerife, Canary Islands, with the money of a cousin, who lives in Spain.
Gil analyzes Fidel Castro with the same indulgence and describes him as a “human being who was wrong,” although he did admit that he was “too self-centered.” She commented that there are many rumors about the leadership of Cuban power, and many are true, such as those that refer to Raúl Castro’s grandson, Guillermo Rodríguez Castro, El Cangrejo [The Crab].
María Victoria Gil regrets that her brother “was involved in that problem” at the age of 58, because he’s the person who’s “most hated” by the people, along with Miguel Díaz-Canel and Manuel Marrero. She said that he lives in a tenement “that is falling down” and suffers from the blackouts, although other sources point to a comfortable house in the neighborhood of La Víbora, in the Havana municipality of Diez de Octubre.
“I hope he finds a way out, or leaves at the right time,” she said. “He will have to leave Cuba if there is a big change.”
Translated by Regina Anavy
*Translator’s note: The “Ordering Task” is a collection of measures that include eliminating the Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC), leaving the Cuban peso as the only national currency, raising prices, raising salaries (but not as much as prices), opening stores that take payment only in hard currency which must be in the form of specially issued pre-paid debit cards, and a broad range of other measures targeted to different elements of the Cuban economy.
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