MARCH 31, 2021 07:30 AM, UPDATED APRIL 01, 2021 05:50 PM
Large cranes can be seen at Port Mariel inside the Mariel Special Economic Development Zone.
A generic-sounding company headquartered in the tax haven of Liechtenstein has for the past 37 years served as the center of global shipping operations for the Cuban government, functioning under the radar while skirting a six-decade trade embargo, an investigation by the Miami Herald/el Nuevo Herald and McClatchy shows.
When incorporated in 1984 in the principality of Liechtenstein, Acemex Management Company Limited was created as a means of survival. It grew into a business model, has been described as the work of a genius and has proved enduring.
A new Miami Herald/el Nuevo Herald investigation reveals the network of hidden shell companies and secretive jurisdictions that allowed Fidel and Raúl Castro and now their military successors to borrow money and to buy, sell and charter the ships that bring in chemicals, fuel and construction supplies needed to build the growing tourism sector and export minerals.
The findings build on earlier reporting published in February as part of a global investigative collaboration called OpenLux, which spotlighted how the small European nation of Luxembourg was used as a camouflage for Cuban maritime operations.
The new investigation sheds light on little-known Acemex and the key players surrounding it — a pair of powerful Cuban brothers not named Fidel and Raúl, but Guillermo Faustino Rodriguez López-Calleja and hisyounger sibling Luis Alberto. The latter is a brigadier generalblacklisted by the United States in 2020.