Phone recharging, drinks and charcoal

CubitaNOW Editorial ~ Thursday, May 23, 2024

An investigation conducted by Cuban engineer Norges Rodriguez, founder of the media company YucaByte and residing in exile since 2016, with journalist Cynthia de la Cantera, revealed an international business network of the Castro family and the Cuban power elite. There are two descendants of Fidel Castro himself in the plot.

The activities of these companies are so diverse that they range from phone recharging, beer, tequila and even coal. In addition, it has branches in the United States, Mexico, Panama, Spain, the United Kingdom and Switzerland.

In an interview with Infobae, Rodriguez explained what this network consists of and what its scope is. We started this investigation in cooperation with the Venezuelan portal ArmandoInfo, because we had previously conducted an investigation into what the Cuban regime received from phone recharges.

“In 2013, they (the regime) started offering exiles a service to pay for cell phones for people who were in Cuba. So, you were in Miami, for example, and you wanted a family member to call, and through companies licensed by the Cuban telecommunications monopoly, ETECSA, they forced you to put $20 or $100 or whatever you wanted on this relative’s phone and make it clear that he’s in Cuba. So he can communicate.

“Then we started investigating which companies were the ones that allowed that money to be raised from abroad and that’s the important thing: we realized that the amount they were getting for this concept were millionaires. We’re talking about that, at one point, there was $1.6 billion a year in Recharge operations and telecom-related services, Rodriguez told this medium: “This is where we took up the task of investigating the identity of the people behind these companies.”

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When asked about this, he explained that after a while they found a member of the Castro family. “There the sirens went off and we said, ‘OK, this is more than just recharging.’ “This is a much more interesting story,” he noted.

“When we found this member of the Castro family, his name is Hector Castro Santana, who is one of the key people in this investigation, we realized that the business was broader than that, that it did not just involve repackaging, and that there was a ‘business of importing beverages to Cuba: beer. , tequila, and various kinds of drinks… But there was also the export trade of Cuban charcoal to Europe, and there was the trade of exporting Cuban tropical fruits to the Old Continent.”

He then noted that he had found two of Fidel Castro’s grandchildren involved in these multi-million dollar activities. “One of them is Sandro Castro Arteaga, who owned several very exclusive bars in Havana. He sold beer and promoted it in his bars. A person very close to him, called Marcos Amoros, recently registered in Cuba with something they allow now, which is that businesses can be registered Private, in quotes, but the majority of these companies, at least the most successful ones, are members of the leadership and this person had also registered a company called Dibermex in Cuba, which is the same name as the other companies in Mexico and Panama that are also called by that name. “This is the relationship with Castro.”

In response to the question of Fidel’s other grandson, Rodriguez explained to Infobae: “His name is Antonio Castro Ulloa. This is a model and is connected to the network through his stepfather. “In other words, it appears that the husband, his mother’s partner, is also linked to this network.”

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“That’s how we realized that this story goes beyond just recharging,” he insisted. While he adds: “This is a story about how descendants of the Castro family are connected to a network of companies that run through Mexico, Panama and the United States… and many of those companies are in South Florida, in Miami, where most of the exile community lives. In addition, there are companies in Spain, where the law firm of Hector Castro Santana, who is the great-grandson of Raul and Fidel Castro, is based in that country Mr. Hector also has companies in the UK linked to this network and in Switzerland there are also companies.

“As you can see, it is a network that moves across several countries. We have come to all this without even realizing it. In other words, we did not go to investigate the family directly, but rather we went to investigate something else related to Cuba, communications, and we found that the family was involved.”

Norges Rodríguez runs YucaByte, a medium founded in 2018 dedicated to issues related to technology and what is happening on the island online. He is a communications and electronics engineer and has lived in the United States since 2016. He settled in Miami in 2020.

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