Juan Juan Almeida, 6 March 2018 — Less than forty days before a parliamentary session that will mark the end Raúl Castro’s presidency, the Cuban government has ordered the restructuring of the command center of the National Defense and Security Commission (CDSN), a state security agency under the direction of the country’s central command.
Sources close to the group, which is headed by Raúl Castro’s son, Alejandro Castro Espín, have told Martí Noticias that, over the course of several days, files, furniture, weapons and computers have been removed from the agency’s headquarters which, as of a few days ago, were located on Kohly Avenue between 36th and 39th streets in the Havana neighborhood of Nuevo Vedado.
“It has been an extremely cautious process, carried out at a time of night when there is little or no traffic,” said the source, who asked to remain anonymous.
The real reason for the decision to reorganize the powerful CDSN is not clear. Unofficial speculation is that the decision is an attempt to erase any trace of a possible cover-up related to the sonic attacks on American and Canadian diplomats in Cuba.
The alleged attacks have strained diplomatic relations between Washington and Havana, and has led to a sixty-person reduction in personnel at the American embassy in Cuba out of security concerns.
Others speculate that Raúl Castro, the current president of the Council of State and Council of Ministers, ordered changes to the agency because he prefers a smaller group focused on providing him personal protection after the transfer of power.
The National Defense and Security Commission is a quasi-governmental agency with limited power and without legal status but which operates like a parallel government. Among its functions are the following:
1. Planning, directing and reviewing services of the government ministries and state security agencies.
2. Creating, forming and appointing the advisory and coordination bodies necessary for the fulfillment of the various ministries’ missions.
3. Participating in the regulation, coupling and control of all entities associated and related to the central governmental administrative agencies.
4. Exercising and supervising, under its responsibility, the functions that the President of the Republic entrusts to him.
Some officials allege that Alejandro Castro Espín has often fallen short as the head of the commission.
But according to sources interviewed by Martí Noticias, Colonel Castro Espín has not been disciplined or removed from his post, as has erroneously been reported in social media.
What is curious is that, in conjunction with the measures being taken by the Cuban high command with respect to the commission, certain families living in homes adjoining the so-called Punto Cero* have been evicted.
Last week, the wife and one of the children of the late Commander Juan Almeida Bosque were “dispatched” from their home in police transport vehicles belonging to the Interior Ministry’s personal security directorate.
Everything happening in this country has to do with the transfer of control scheduled for April 19. Any decision related to this event takes on almost dramatic importance and has specific connections to it,” said a former senior officer from the Revolutionary Armed Forces.
The splitting up or disarming of the commission has not escaped national attention. Reports obtained by Martí Noticias point out that some individuals from the select agency have approached the probable presidential successors now that they can no longer count on the longtime, outgoing leadership.
It is no secret that uncertainty has gripped the halls of power.
“The arrival of the successor, whoever he is, will not only cause the removal of many established managers, but will also bring the appearance of a new government team that everyone wants to belong to,” said the former soldier.
Translator’s note: *Point Zero. A highly secured government compound on the outskirts of Havana where members of the Castro family and other high-ranking officials live.