HAVANA TIMES — I first found out that there was a state within the Cuban state in the mid-80s, when I learned that the Military Counter Intelligence (CIM) of the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR) was conducting espionage and counterespionage work throughout Cuban society and especially against the very State Security and Political Intelligence branches of the Interior Ministry.
If there was any doubt, the trial in 1989 against General Ochoa, a small group of senior Interior Ministry officials, the Interior Minister Jose Abrantes and some of his generals, showed that the intelligence apparatus of the FAR had acted against MININT.
What came next, the “taking” by the MININT by the FAR, is known history, but only in part. The commanders and officers of the CIM and the DIM (Military Intelligence) were appointed chiefs and officers at various levels of all organs of the MININT, whose chiefs and officers were massively dismissed, retired or sent to carry out other “important missions.”
Since then, all the Interior Order, Intelligence and Counter Intelligence, are directed by the FAR. Their successes and failures, since late 1989, are their sole responsibility, especially including the disaster of the Wasp Network and the arrest of numerous Cuban intelligence agents in the bowels of the Empire. Was it due to errors or betrayal? The result has been the same.
Thus, some of the officers I met with the rank of General in the MININT, could be seen renting their Russian cars or offering accommodation to tourists at their homes. Others, the majority, who did not have Ladas or houses to rent, had to cope as they could, working for other state institutions that accepted them or doing some self-employment option.
Colonels, Majors and junior officers of the old MNINT, persecuted for their positions critical of government policies, could not find work, or received offers of very low paid jobs or if they began a small business, for some “strange” reason, went broke.
With the arrival in the presidency of General Raul Castro, after the sudden illness of his brother Fidel, the FAR had been already working to become financially independent of the state, appropriated all the important levers of the Communist Party (PCC), the state, the government and the economy; but even so, they have managed to maintain their independence within the recognized and established state.
The Politburo of the PCC, the State Council and the Council of Ministers are full of generals and officers of the FAR. The program director of updating the economic model, Marino Murillo, is a former Colonel in the FAR. The Director of the Ideological Department of the PCC for more than a decade ago is a Colonel in the FAR. The most important agricultural plan for soybean production is run by another General.
The most important economic plan of the government of Raul Castro, the Mega project of the El Mariel container port and special trade zone, is led by General López Callejas, Director of the GAE (Economic Activities Group) of the FAR and the son-in-law of the President.
CUBALSE the business corporation in hard currency that previously belonged to the State Council, was handed to TRD, (Hard currency recovery stores), the commercial FAR corporation that monopolizes the domestic hard currency retail market.
The FAR also took control of the ETECSA telephone monopoly. Gaviota, the FAR tour operator, expanded operations and controls not only hotels and tourist facilities, but also an aviation company completely independent of Cubana Airlines, which in turn is under military control.
The statutes of the Comptroller General of the Republic establish that its scope is civil and the finances of the FAR are not under its jurisdiction.
I merely mention some very significant facts. I could fill several pages with names of institutions of all types being managed or run by officers or former officers of the FAR put there by the respective higher ups.
There is no doubt: Whatever happens in Cuba today, in any sphere, is decided by the military.
So when someone refers to the Cuban state, you should keep in mind that it is controlled by another state that is independent of the other.
It is independent because the National Assembly of People’s Power (parliament), constitutionally the supreme organ of power in Cuba, does not have any jurisdiction over the military apparatus, its main officers, businesses, salaries, privileges, living standards, etc.
I do not judge the officers of the FAR, I know there are many true revolutionaries, patriots and communists who gave and sacrificed their lives for the socialism they believed in. And it is they that may be the source that one day contributes to the rebirth of another democratic, free and socialist Cuba.
Today the FAR are a state within a state, independent and at the same time dominant.