Why Gaesa Is Not Under the Control of Cuba’s Comptroller

Cuba’s Comptroller, Gladys Bejerano. Photo: screenshot.

Why Gaesa Is Not Under the Control of Cuba’s Comptroller

22 / mayo / 2024

Many people were surprised or confirmed their “suspicions” after the interview that EFE conducted with Cuba’s Comptroller, Gladys Bejerano. In the conversation with Juan Palop – recently published and whose video fragments have circulated on social networks – Bejerano confirmed that she does not have jurisdiction to control Gaesa. She asserted that the business group, managed by the Ministry of the Revolutionary Armed Forces (Minfar), does not need to be controlled by her institution because “it has superior discipline and organization due to its decades of business experience.”

Although many people consider that Bejerano’s statement is confirmation of a fact that has never been verified, the only “new” thing – and crude, it must also be said – in the testimony of the head of the Comptroller’s Office is the argument to justify the lack of controls over the Cuban military.

Beyond the personal perception of Internet users on the island, the lack of jurisdiction of the Comptroller over the Minfar system and the Ministry of the Interior (Minint) has never been a “suspicion”, but rather a fact, and expressly recognized in the country’s legislation.

The internal control system of Minfar and Minint does not respond to any external body or institution. The provision was instituted as part of a secret state policy and, in addition, was expressly established in the regulations that from its origin outlined the jurisdiction of the Comptroller’s Office.

The Comptroller’s Office is an institution derived from the defunct Ministry of Audits and Control, which also had no jurisdiction over the Minfar and the Minint. Since its creation in 2009 through Law 107, the Cuban regime made it clear (in the eighth special provision of the regulations) that the Minfar and the Minint “are governed, for the purposes of the audit, supervision and control activity, by their internal rules. The provision also established that the only duty of those ministries towards the Comptroller’s Office is to “report, at least once a year, to the Comptroller General of the Republic, the result of the audit, supervision and control actions” that they carry out.

That eighth special provision of Law 107 also granted an exceptional function to the president of the Councils of State and Ministers (read: Cuba’s president) the power to order “when he deems appropriate” that the Comptroller’s Office carry out supervision and control actions in armed institutions. The above, at least in theory, established a system of institutional counterweights in which the Comptroller’s Office was in charge of receiving and evaluating the accountability reports of the Minfar and the Minint and in which the president retained the power to order audits and internal controls on the armed forces.

However, over time, the possibility of the Comptroller’s Office receiving the accountability reports of the armed forces disappeared and the independence of the Minfar and the Minint was thus deepened.

In February 2023, the National Assembly of People’s Power —the theoretical supreme body of the Cuban State that should be in charge of demanding and receiving accounts from Minfar and Minint— approved a law to restructure the Comptroller’s Office. With the law, the Assembly renounced its right to hold the armed forces accountable and also eliminated the possibility of the Comptroller’s Office (a body specialized in audit and control actions) to carry out the work on its behalf.

Law 158 of 2023, which currently regulates the work of the Comptroller’s Office, reproduced in its special provision the first part of the content of the eighth special provision of Law 107 and ratified the independence in matters of audit, supervision and control of the Minfar and the Minint. At the same time, it transferred the right to receive the accounts of the organizations to the President.

Currently, it is the president – and not the National Assembly or the Comptroller’s Office – who receives the annual accountability reports that the Minfar and the Minint are required to present in matters of audit and control. Law 158 also maintained the president’s power to order audit actions promoted by the Comptroller’s Office against the armed forces. However, to date, there is no evidence that the president, who also holds the position of first secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party – the political force that the military serves – has used the power to supervise the work of the Cuban armed forces.

It is likely that the official justification is the same as that offered by Gladys Bejerano, the “decades of business experience” of the Minint and the Minfar exempt the organizations from the need to have external controls on their pristine military and its businesses.

This article was translated into English from the original in Spanish.

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