The #1 Beneficiary of Tourism in Cuba

Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Courtesy of STRATFOR Global Intelligence:
 
Raul Castro headed the transformation of Cuba's military into what has become the driving force of the Cuban economy. Raul founded Grupo de Administracion Empresarial S.A. (Enterprise Management Group), or GAESA, which is the holding company for the Cuban Defense Ministry. Raul appointed several of his close confidants and relatives to positions within GAESA. These included Gen. Julio Casas Regueiro, who is the Chairman of GAESA; and GAESA CEO Maj. Luis Alberto Rodriguez Lopez Callejas, who is married to Deborah Castro Espin, Raul's oldest daughter.

GAESA holds a wide array of companies ranging from the very profitable Gaviota tourism company to Sasa, S.A., which controls the island's gas station network. Gaviota, which Gen. Luis Perez Rospide heads, controls and operates more than 30 hotels and resorts. It is by far the most profitable company GAESA holds, and leads the nation in foreign exchange earnings. Since the mid-1990s, Cuba has allowed foreign investment in the tourism industry to help boost revenue. France-based Club Med can be found on the Caribbean beaches, along with other foreign companies.

The ever-expanding Cuban tourism industry has allowed GAESA to expand to other holdings. It controls the Military Counterintelligence Department VI and its support companies, Empresa de Servicios La Marina, which is run by a counterintelligence major; and Antex S.A., which provides engineering and technical support to all the GAESA companies. Antex has served as a channel for introducing Cuban intelligence operatives into foreign countries, given that it has offices in more than 10 countries.
 
CORRECTION:  Raul Castro has since promoted his son-in law Maj. Luis Alberto Rodriguez Lopez Callejas to Chairman of GAESA, and General Julio Casa Regueiro to Minister of Defense.