Castro Son-In-Law Promoted to General 7

Newly appointed Brigadier General Luis Alberto Rodriguez Lopez-Callejas

Newly appointed Brigadier General Luis Alberto Rodriguez Lopez-Callejas

Luis Alberto Rodriguez Lopez-Callejas appears to remain a powerful figure despite reports that he has fought with the family.

By Juan O. Tamayo, JTamayo@elNuevoHerald.com

A powerful son-in-law of Cuban ruler Raúl Castro, in charge of the military enterprises that dominate the island’s economy, has been promoted to general despite recurring reports of tensions with his wife and brother-in-law.

Luis Alberto Rodriguez Lopez-Callejas, in his mid-50s and long identified as a colonel in the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR), was identified as a brigadier general in a Jan. 29 report in the Web pages of Cubadefensa, a FAR publication.

Rodriguez heads the Enterprise Administration Group (GAESA), the FAR’s business arm — the military controls 80 percent of the Cuban economy, including hotels, factories, restaurants and airlines — and sits on the Central Committee of the Communist Party.

He also is spearheading the $1 billion development project for the Port of Mariel west of Havana, Cuba’s strategic bet for reinserting itself into the global economy with the help of $800 million in financing from Brazil.

Military promotions in secretive Cuba are seldom announced, but Cubadefensa revealed his new rank in a brief report saying he attended a ceremony marking the 20th anniversary of the military-run Almacenes Universales S.A.

Rodriguez, married to Castro’s oldest daughter, Deborah Castro Espín, is widely viewed as one of the most powerful and ambitious men in Cuba — smart, arrogant, frugal and a highly effective administrator of GAESA.

His promotion to general supported speculation that he might succeed Castro eventually because he holds a high military rank, knows the economy, comes from a good family and married into an even more important one. His father, Maj. Gen. Guillermo Rodríguez del Pozo, was one of the Fidel Castro guerrillas who seized power in 1959.

“This means that he remains in contention, despite what people have been saying about his troubles,” said Luis Dominguez, a Miami exile who first reported Rodriguez’s promotion in his blog, Cuba al Descubierto — Cuba Uncovered.

Retired CIA analyst Brian Latell, who authored two books on Cuba, said the new rank is commensurate with the general’s responsibilities at the very profitable GAESA. “I would say he earned his star fair and square,” he said.

But Rodriguez also has been reported to have clashed often with Deborah and her brother, Alejandro Castro Espín, 48, an Interior Ministry colonel who is Castro’s chief intelligence advisor and runs a tough anti-corruption campaign.

Read more here: Castro Son-In-Law Promoted to General

Castro Son-In-Law Promoted to General

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Miami Herald Ignores Abundant Spy Ties in Coverage of “Cuba Conference” 10

Yesterday’s Herald featured the innocent sounding article, Supporters of Stronger US Relations With Cuba Stage Rare Gathering in Miami. The author, longtime Cuba-watcher Juan Tamayo, wrote “A rare conference of supporters of normalizing U.S.-Cuba relations heard calls Saturday for the Obama administration to allow more travel to the island and remove it from a list of supporters of terrorism.”

The career journalist noted that over 100 people attended the one-day event that offered panelists such as “Arturo Lopez-Levy, a Cuban foreign policy expert at the University of Denver, and Antonio Zamora, a Miami lawyer and member of the Brigade 2506 that invaded Cuba in 1961. He now favors normalizing bilateral relations.”

Conference promoter Hugo Cancio, however, lamented that Washington denied a visa to “invited panelist, retired Havana diplomat Jesus Arboleya, and denied permission to attend the conference to two Cuban diplomats in Washington – First Secretary Juan Lamigueiro and General Counsel Llanio Gonzalez.” Tamayo also spoke with Collin Laverty, a U.S. citizen who works with U.S. visitors to the island, who told him about 90 percent of Americans visiting Cuba are funneled through the Cuban government’s Havanatour agency. (Note: The actual name is Havanatur).

Alarmingly, you could fill volumes with all the intelligence service connections the Herald conveniently omitted. A few of these key facts would include:

Arturo Lopez-Levyin his own book – admitted to having been a spy with Cuba’s Ministry of the Interior (MININT). Likewise, the Herald failed to note the seven-year PhD candidate’s close family ties to Raul Castro’s son-in-law, MININT Col. Luis Alberto Rodriguez Lopez-Callejas.

• The banned panelist, Colonel Jesus Arboleya Cervera was identified by intelligence service defector Jesus Perez Mendez in 1983. Years later, Arboleya’s intelligence service was further corroborated by convicted spy Carlos Alvarez.

Arboleya served as a Second Secretary at the Cuban Mission to the United Nations in New York City before transferring to the Washington-based Cuban Interests Section. During his US tour, Arboleya was the architect of the 1970’s US-Cuba normalization drive, which almost succeeded in 1977 following the formation of a group of prominent Cuban-Americans who called themselves the Committee of 75. Although headed by respectable Cuban-Americans, including two clerics and several businessmen, the Committee was inspired by the DGI, (then) Cuba’s primary foreign intelligence service. According to Senate testimony of March 12, 1982, at the time, Arboleya may have been the longest serving DGI officer in the United States.

• The Havanatur office in Miami surveilled Cuban-Americans seeking to visit the island and recruited agents from among them, according to 1981 Congressional testimony. Subsequently, the US Treasury Department identified Havanatur and CIMEX (among others) as Cuban front companies. In the intelligence arena, a “Front Company” is any entity created, controlled, or heavily influenced by a spy service to fulfill espionage missions without its actions being attributed to the host intelligence service.

In March 2004, the US Treasury identified Havanatur as a CIMEX subsidiary. Public records reveal CIMEX’s involvement in everything from weapons purchases for leftist guerillas in the 1980s to more genteel import/export endeavors.

Havanatur, as well as the remainder of Cuba’s tourism sector, is run as a joint venture by the Ministry of the Interior (MININT) and the Ministry of the Armed Forces (MINFAR). For almost 20 years, credible defectors and émigrés have reported that part of the earnings from tourism are channeled back into the operating budgets of these two agencies. As a result, US tourists are actively funding Cuban repression and espionage.

• The entry point for the much heralded “people-to-people” tours is the Cuban Institute for Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP). DGI officer Jesus Raul Perez Mendez was the ICAP director before his defection. So well known is ICAP’s collaboration that in 1983, the New York Times cited a State Department spokesman who said ICAP was suspected of having an intelligence collection mission in support of the DGI.

More recently, former DI officer Juan Manuel Reyes-Alonso reportedly that ICAP is not a DI entity per se, but that it was overwhelmingly influenced by the intelligence service. He further claimed ICAP was penetrated by a small cadre of bona fide DI officers, aided by a large staff of agents (i.e., collaborators). As a result, roughly 90% of ICAP was thought to be DI-affiliated.

So the question of the day remains: why is the Miami Herald so adamant about ignoring, suppressing, minimizing or discrediting news on Havana’s spy services?

Editor’s Note: A copy of this post was sent to the Miami Herald as a “Letter to the Editor.”

New York Times Using Discredited Cuba Sources Reply

Yesterday’s New York Times featured this highly disappointing article by foreign correspondent Damien Cave: Former Exit Port for a Wave of Cubans Hopes to Attract Global Shipping

One of the sources widely used by Cave and the New York Times was Arturo Lopez-Levy, who it erroneously cited as “a former Cuban official who studies Cuba’s economy and politics” and someone “who also works with a group of Cuban-Americans favoring engagement with Cuba.” No mention was made to how – in his own book – Lopez-Levy admitted to having been a spy with Cuba’s Ministry of the Interior (MININT). Likewise, the Times failed to note the PhD candidate’s close family ties to Raul Castro’s son-in-law, MININT Col. Luis Alberto Rodriguez Lopez-Callejas.

The paper then compounded this sourcing error by citing Phil Peters, a senior member of the long discredited Lexington Institute. A self-professed “think tank,” this group was exposed as a fraud years ago for writing flattering news stories on its corporate sponsors in the defense sector. Coverage on their money-for-stories approach can be found here: Analyst’s switch stirs tanker talk, and in the Babalu Blog feature,
Sherritt, Cuba, and the Cubanologist.”

Famed Castro Apologist Hypes “Rise” of CELAC Reply

OAS head at Cuba Summit in Unusual Encounter

By Associated Press

HAVANA — The secretary-general of the Organization of American States arrived in Cuba on Monday to attend a regional summit, in an unusual encounter 52 years after Cuba was kicked out of the regional bloc.

Jose Miguel Insulza, a Chilean, was attending as an observer, so there was no official access to his arrival as was the case with visiting foreign ministers and heads of state. But Cuban officials confirmed his presence on the island to The Associated Press.

Hugo Zela, Insulza’s chief of staff, said the OAS, which was formed in 1948, has no record of a secretary-general visiting Cuba.

Tensions between Cuba and the OAS began shortly after the 1959 Cuban Revolution, when Washington put pressure on Fidel Castro’s nascent Communist government through the organization.

Cuba was suspended from the bloc in 1962 at the height of the Cold War and many other nations turned their backs on Havana, with Mexico a notable exception.

By the dawn of the 21st century and with the Cold War nearly two decades in the rear-view mirror, some countries — particularly Venezuela under the late President Hugo Chavez, who called Castro a friend and mentor — began pushing for Cuba’s reintegration into the hemispheric community.

In 2009 the OAS ended Cuba’s suspension with the consent of Washington, which had been hesitant at first. But Havana balked at rejoining the bloc it sees as obeying U.S. interests.

“Cuba’s position toward the OAS remains the same: We will not return,” Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez said at the summit. “It has negative historical baggage as an instrument of domination by the United States that cannot be resolved through any reform.”

Nonetheless, Rodriguez said inviting Insulza to the CELAC summit was done out of “courtesy.”

The CELAC was formed in 2011 and includes all the Western Hemisphere’s nations except Canada and the United States.

“It should replace within a short time the OAS, that institution that did so much harm to integration,” Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Roberto Patino said Monday.

Arturo Lopez-Levy, a Cuba analyst and lecturer at the University of Denver, said the CELAC’s creation puts pressure on the OAS to remain relevant.

“The problems of the OAS are due to the fact that inter-American multilateralism has not been updated in respect to the changes in politics and balance of power that have taken place in (the region) and beyond as part of the rise of the global south,” Lopez-Levy said. “The second summit of the CELAC in Havana pours salt on that wound,” he added.

For decades the argument for excluding Cuba from the OAS was its closed, single-party system. Havana has little tolerance for internal opposition and routinely harasses dissidents whom it officially labels treasonous “mercenaries.”

Insulza has come under criticism particularly from the Cuban exile community for not scheduling meetings with island dissidents during the trip, in order to avoid making the summit hosts uncomfortable.

“It’s startling,” said Elizardo Sanchez, a nongovernmental human rights monitor in Cuba. “It’s a little surprising because the OAS usually recognizes the human rights NGOs.”

Cuban dissidents have complained about increased harassment and detentions in the days leading up to and during the summit. Some said they were prevented from holding an alternative forum, while others claimed to be under effective house arrest.

Editor’s Note: Lopez-Levy is a self-professed “former” Intelligence Officer in Havana’s dreaded Ministry of the Interior (MININT). He is also a relative of MININT Col. Luis Alberto Rodriguez Lopez-Callejas, Raul Castro’s son-in-law and head of GAESA, the regime’s business monopoly. Now living comfortably in Colorado, Lopez-Levy (aka Lopez-Callejas) is a long-term doctoral student in Denver.