What Happened with Fidel Castro’s Protegé? / Laritza Diversent

“The Arms of Yesterday” is the title of the book of memoirs by the Chilean businessman Max Marambio, 63. In his presentation during the 2008 Havana Book Fair, Marambio said, “In Cuban I found my model of society.”

Two years after its launch, I wonder if Marambio will the same after the Cuban Ministry of the Interior releases an arrest order for him.

What armor with the Chilean use to defend himself against accusations from the government he defended? How will he feel after his fall?

The Fat Man, the nickname he’s known by, came to Cuba in the mid ’60s. He contacted Fidel Castro and started to live the romantic dream if the bearded guerrillas, under the command of Manuel Piñeiro, alias Redbeard.

The same Revolutionary project that yesterday inspired in him an ethical commitment for life, now accuses him of crimes of bribery, acts to the detriment of economic activity or recruitment, embezzlement, forgery of bank documents and fraud.

In 1973, Cuba was the perfect place for his self-exile, today it is a place quite dangerous for his freedom and personal security. If he returns to the island, he’s likely to end up in jail.

Marambio did not return the call of the prosecutor from the Ministry of the Interior, Lieutenant Colonel Francisco Estrada, who summoned and questioned him on 19 July and 23 August. The Fat Man knew the Cuban judicial system well. He particularly knows the few safeguards offered to the accused.

The criminal proceedings against him are in the preparatory phase, when the diligence previous to the opening of the oral arguments is performed, such as pre-trial detention for the offenders.

The Chilean also knows that few can work with their lawyers long distance. They need to appear and apply a precautionary measure on the part of the process, and so be legally represented.

So what will he do then? What all prudent men would do.  Stay in his country and forget about the land that dazzled him in his youth.

The Fat Man is also aware that the publication of the summons and charges, in the Cuban Republic Official Gazette, is a formal requirement. The Cuban government is not going to go after him internationally.

But neither are they going to pardon him. It won’t be like in 1989, when he survived a political scandal that ended with the firing squad for General Arnaldo Ochoa and Colonel Tony de la Guardia.

Surely, to Marambio they will declare him in default and try him in absentia. A very subtle form of expulsion. He can’t return and he will lose everything he has in Cuba. The only country in the world where a foreigner and close friend of Fidel Castro has the chance to become a millionaire. However, no one now with save him from the confiscation of his property.

Mystery surrounds the case. What happened to the protegé of the elder Castro? Inconvenient for the younger brother? Evidently the arms of yesterday don’t serve Max Marambio today.

September 3, 2010