The Smokescreen Expands: The Cuban Regime Asks for the Head of the Former Minister

“Corruption should not surprise us. We see it every day in the favors that certain children, grandchildren and nephews/nieces have,” says Mauricio de Miranda Parrondo. Photo: Raul Castro/

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Madrid, 8 March 2024 — Two things have caught the immediate attention of the Cuban economist Mauricio de Miranda Parrondo in the brief statement with which the opening of an investigation against the former Minister of Economy and Planning Alejandro Gil was announced on Thursday. The first is the concern for what “the enemy” will say and not the Cuban people; the second, how much it reveals about the inability of the system to really fight corruption.

“As expected, the enemy will unleash a new propaganda campaign against Cuba, but our people, as we are accustomed to, will remain firm on the side of their Party and Government, faithful to the legacy of the Commander-in-Chief and the teachings of Army General Raúl Castro Ruz,” closes the statement, signed by the President of the Republic, Miguel Díaz-Canel.

“Really? Is that what the opinion polls say or are they no longer being carried out? The more than 500,000 Cubans who have left the country in two years selling houses and furniture don’t count? And are those who are silent out of fear also on the side of the Party and the Government or rant about it in a low voice in their kitchens as was the case in the former USSR?” wrote the economist, a professor at the Javeriana University of Cali (Colombia), almost immediately after he heard the news.

Do the more than 500,000 Cubans who have left the country in two years selling houses and furniture not count?

In an extensive reflection, shared on his Facebook page, the expert addresses the differences that exist in a case of corruption in a democracy and in a dictatorship without separation of powers. “There is corruption in almost every political system in the world. What happens is that this scourge has a propitious breeding ground in those countries where there are no independent legal controls and audit mechanisms.”

In case there were doubts, the official report makes it crystal clear that the investigation will be carried out “at the proposal of the Attorney General’s Office, the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Party and the Council of State,” which “approved that the competent bodies of the Ministry of the Interior initiate the corresponding actions for the total clarification of these behaviors.”

Contrary to other systems, in Cuba it is the Party and the Government who give the order to the Police to start an investigation, which means that nothing will ever be known that the authorities do not want known. “The explosion of scandals will depend on the ’scapegoat’ on duty,” warns De Miranda.

The economist recalls that this is not the first time that similar events have occurred in which defenestration is followed by a complaint for criminal offenses, but it is not explained how the Government trusts – publicly at least – that the population will defend the system from the enemy’s attacks when that same citizenry suffers the effects of a corruption that it sees on a daily basis.

“Corruption should not surprise us. We see it every day in the favors of certain children, grandchildren and nephews/nieces turned overnight into successful businessmen and true tycoons in the midst of the poverty of most of the country. And when I say poverty, I mean that even those who do not suffer from it are saved thanks to their FAITH (fe) that is, their relatives (familia) abroad (en el exterior).”

“Corruption should not surprise us. We see it every day in the favors of certain children, grandchildren and nephews/nieces turned overnight into successful businessmen”

“How did those children, grandchildren and nephews/nieces who become potentates in the blink of an eye originally accumulate the capital? Where did some get the money to build mansions to rent and others to develop prosperous businesses of all kinds, while those who are “less equal,” to paraphrase Orwell, suffer restricions”? he asks.

With little faith, the expert requests that what happened with Gil Fernández not be “a smokescreen” and that “the specific charges of which he is accused” be known.

That is, precisely, one of the requests that is most repeated in the more than 200 comments that the report has generated in Cubadebate since it was made public. Most of the readers of the official media have shown the desired adherence to a Revolution that, with the investigation of the former minister, is “relentless, ethical and transparent,” but the demand for explanations is a constant.

“There will be no trust unless the information is accurate and enlightening, taking into account Gil’s position and that his  performance affected the entire population,” says a commentator. Another asks for more details: “Yes, we need more information: What exactly did he do? How long did he do it? Did he do it with someone else? At that level, it seems impossible that someone else is not directly involved or that at least they have turned a blind eye. Transparency must prevail here! An important step has already been taken, but it is not over. And let the one who has to fall fall.”

“Don’t close the door yet, there are a few missing”; “They have to keep shaking the tree. There are many others like him, for sure”

That shadow of doubt is present in countless messages. “Don’t close the door yet, there are a few missing”; “They have to continue shaking the tree, there are many others like him, for sure”; “We must delve into the state of opinion of the population, who in different scenarios and moments express opinions about certain leaders and close relatives with indirect participation in private businesses. Anyone understands that behind these opinions there can be a whole enemy strategy, but be careful: sometimes, where there’s smoke, there’s fire.”

In the case of Alejandro Gil Fernández, whose personal matters are in fact unknown, the report speaks of “serious errors” but lets drop that corruption is being investigated, which, far from a mistake, is a crime. This has allowed an opening for many Cubans to start asking for everything to be reviewed.

“Research in depth the offers of premises and leases for private businesses. In Holguín there are many who are involved in this process, a tremendous amount,” says a message. “It is very easy to detect someone who is corrupt,” says another reader. “Follow those next to him, below and above him, many interact with him. Something has been going wrong for many years and we don’t realize it, or we don’t want to.”

On February 6, just four days after his dismissal, Gil Fernández received a warm congratulations from the ministry he headed for his 60th birthday. “Many congratulations on your birthday. Health and success in your new tasks. And as you well say: ’We are still fighting for our country and our Revolution’,” the organization wrote on its X account. The message was one of gratitude by the former minister, who called the department a “family” that he would always carry in his heart.

Less enthusiastic was Díaz-Canel, who wrote an extremely conventional message: “Another hug for Alejandro Gil on his birthday.” The president had already begun to get rid of his former subordinate.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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