MIPYMES in Power: The Perdomo Di-Lella Brothers

hermanos Perdomo, Cuba, tu ambia
Los hermanos Jorge Luis y Yoel Perdomo Di-Lella (Ilustración: CubaNet)

**HAVANA, Cuba** – During the most recent governmental visit to Cienfuegos, Manuel Marrero Cruz, the prime minister of the Cuban regime, did not hesitate to blame the “millionaire” owners of MIPYMES for aggravating corruption on the Island. For his part, Miguel Díaz-Canel, in a conversation with Cuban bank officials during his YouTube program “Desde la Presidencia,” leveled several accusations against the “new actors” of the economy in a tone of reproach and demonization. This tone is reminiscent of that used by Aleida Guevara in May of this year when she attacked MIPYMES for “posing security risks” and being “sources of inequalities on the Island.”

However, all these “accusations” — which add to those from other figures and high-ranking officials of the dictatorship who see the private sector as the source of the ills plaguing the Cuban economy — are not accompanied by concrete actions, measures, laws, and decrees to tackle the alleged evil. This gives the impression that they are merely trying to influence public opinion and, in passing, quell the growing popular discontent by insisting on the false idea that “regime” and “private sector” are two very different, sometimes antagonistic, things.

In reality, every day, both on social media and in independent press outlets, a mountain of evidence accumulates pointing to main figures of the dictatorship as the hands that, directly or through frontmen, pull the strings of the most successful and even the oldest “private” companies. Some of these are closely related to state enterprises or were created from those enterprises under the guise of “individual ventures.”

A few of these have been revealed, confirming that there are no coincidences: the EFE bar-restaurant, managed by Sandro Castro; the luxury home rental business of Vilma Rodríguez, granddaughter of Raúl Castro; the business empire of Antonio Núñez Jiménez’s heirs; the family-business empire of Guillermo García Frías, camouflaged behind the state company Flora y Fauna; the Gaia Mercado of Lisa Titolo Castro, daughter of Mariela Castro and Paolo Titolo (representative of the Amorim group, linked to the shady businesses of Isabel dos Santos, daughter of José Eduardo dos Santos), and the “private ventures” of other lesser-known figures in the dictatorship, like the notorious Media Luna, the MIPYMES in Ciego de Ávila associated with the corruption scandal that allegedly led to the dismissal of Alejandro Gil, the Minister of the Economy between July 2018 and March 2024.

But Alejandro Gil, though the only regime official “punished” to date, is not the only minister or high-ranking official of the dictatorship directly connected or through a relative or friend to a “private business.”

Recently, CubaNet published the case of Arturo Aliaga Céspedes, current head of the Legal Department of the National Directorate of ANAP, who is not only linked to several importing and distributing MIPYMES but also to a disinformation campaign that seeks to blame the dollar for high prices and inflation while they, beneath the surface, act as buyers-sellers in the informal currency market in favor of their importing businesses.

However, between an official of low visibility like Arturo Aliaga Céspedes and members of the Castro family (always under scrutiny), there are other leading figures of high prominence, though not as old, more from the new generation, who, despite holding high positions both in the Government and the Central Committee of the Communist Party, have managed to go almost unnoticed precisely because of the short time they have been in their roles.

Such is the case of electrical engineer Jorge Luis Perdomo Di-Lella, current Deputy Prime Minister of Cuba, a role assigned to him on April 20, 2021, perhaps as a reward for his performance as Minister of Information Science and Communications (a position he held since July 2018, after distinguishing himself as dean and director of Research at the University of Information Sciences, UCI).  As legacy of his ministerial management, he left the implementation of Decree-Law 370, with which the regime tries to legitimize censorship and repression on the internet.

Private Businesses as Rewards for the Di-Lella Family

In addition to the position of Deputy Prime Minister, another reward Jorge Luis Perdomo Di-Lella has received at a time when military-businessmen are dividing the spoils, is obtaining a considerable share through his brother Yoel Perdomo Di-Lella. Yoel Perdomo Di-Lella is one of the most important private entrepreneurs on the Island. He is involved in at least three companies, one of which is registered in Panama and the Cuban Chamber of Commerce as “foreign capital,” and the other two as MIPYMES and “self-employed” businesses, focusing on the production, sale, and distribution of food, beverages, hardware items, and household appliances.

Yoel Perdomo Di-Lella has built an empire from being a simple maitre at the Comodoro Hotel in the 90s, with a short work stint at Marina Hemingway, which led him to work under Abraham Maciques at the Havana Convention Palace. This opportunity opened the doors to success in the shadows of power, especially after becoming Alfredo Maciques Rodríguez’s best friend. Together, they took over the management of several of Abraham’s many shady businesses. Abraham Maciques Rodríguez is known as one of Fidel Castro’s main financial frontmen.

Such was the trust placed by Abraham Maciques and his son Alfredo in young Yoel Perdomo Di-Lella that, by 2012, he had been appointed administrator of El Palenque restaurant, an important subsidiary of the Council of Ministers. This establishment generated millions of dollars along with the Convention Palace, the ExpoCuba Exhibition Center, the Palco Hotel, and the emerging company Palco S.A., which was beginning to absorb dozens of businesses that previously belonged to Cubanacán and Cubalse. These included forwarding services, imports, and parcel services, to which all companies that ship to Cuba from abroad, including those based in the United States, are necessarily connected due to the infrastructure managed by Palco S.A.

During his time at El Palenque, Yoel Perdomo Di-Lella demonstrated his ability to make money. Above all, he demonstrated his loyalty and discretion regarding Abraham Maciques’ businesses. According to testimonies from people who worked with him at that time, interviewed by CubaNet under condition of anonymity, Yoel not only managed El Palenque but also supervised all major events held at the Convention Palace.

“They consulted him on everything. He was a money-making machine. Many things for which Fidel [Castro] praised Abraham were actually Yoel’s ideas. That’s why whenever you see Alfredo [Maciques]’s name in any business, Yoel’s hand is there. They always took him everywhere,” said one of the interviewed sources.

In August 2014, the Cuban commercial weekly Opciones interviewed Yoel Perdomo in his role as administrator of El Palenque restaurant, considered at that time “the largest private restaurant in Havana,” with the highest revenues in Cuba which exceeded 14,000 CUC (dollars) per day and about 6 million CUC annually.

But Yoel Perdomo’s big moment as a private entrepreneur would come a few years later with the naming of his brother Jorge Luis as Deputy Prime Minister in April 2021. Just a few months later, in August of that year, Yoel was appointed director of Camax Chile S.A., an alleged “foreign branch” that Carolina Rau Freraut, a Chilean resident in Cuba and friend of Alfredo Maciques, had registered in Panama as her own in February 2009. In reality, it is an off-shore company dependent on Grupo Palco S.A. (In fact, the contact phone number for Carolina Rau Freraut [7204 4735], according to ETECSA records, is located at the Convention Palace).

2021: The Big Leap for the Di-Lella Family

Camax Chile S.A. was registered in the Panamanian tax records under the number 1525971165251682, and in its latest available report — dated July 12, 2021 — it notes the change of Alfredo Maciques as “attorney,” after serving as the company’s “commercial specialist” while his father ran the business.

However, in 2021, just four months after Jorge Luis Perdomo’s appointment, Yoel was promoted within Camax Chile S.A. to replace his friend Alfredo Maciques. Establishing residence in Spain as part of his work for Palco S.A., Alfredo’s role was to open a couple of companies to import food for tourism into Cuba but, more importantly, auto and motorcycle parts, particularly light electric-traction equipment. This includes many of the electric motorcycles and bicycles that Palco S.A. currently sells in its various establishments.

On April 20, 2021, Jorge Luis Perdomo Di-Lella assumed his role as Cuba’s Deputy Prime Minister. Concurrently, Alfredo Maciques began his role in his new company in Spain. On April 23 of that year, he created Why Not Yoseloenvio SL (registration B05406863), a sort of remake of another company he established in 2019 named Why Not Enterprise Corporation SL (registration B88519160), where he appears as the “joint administrator” of a business that actually operates out of Palco S.A.

In August 2021, Yoel Perdomo opened his first “private” restaurant (El Bodegón del Asado), which now has two locations in Havana, one in Playa and the other in Old Havana, according to the list of “restaurants managed by TCP” published in PDF format by Tribuna de La Habana newspaper.

A couple of years later, Yoel Perdomo would also obtain authorization through Resolution 392 of 2023 from the Ministry of Foreign Trade, to register an office in Havana for the allegedly Panamanian company Camax Chile S.A. (the Panamanian counterpart of Palco S.A.), as recorded in the Official Gazette No. 124 Ordinary of 2023. This legal act would merely formalize a business that already existed as part of Palco S.A. itself.  According to regime press reports, Camax Chile already functioned as the main supplier of high-quality beverages and food for the most important tourism-related events on the Island.

For example, on September 19, 2019, Excelencias Gourmet magazine, in an article reviewing the Varadero Gourmet 2019 event, presented Yoel Perdomo as the “deputy representative” of the Camax Chile Group. At that time, the Deputy Prime Minister’s brother was in charge of the “presentation and tasting of wines, made from grapes that are not currently available in the national market, [sourced] from some of the wineries represented by the Camax Chile group.” 

In October of that same year, according to the regime press, his name was mentioned at the Havana Festival and the Wine Festival held at the Hotel Nacional. However, by 2021, his title had changed from “deputy representative” to “director for Cuba” of Camax Chile S.A., although Chilean Carolina Rau Freraut remained listed as the director in the Panamanian records, serving only as a front.

Carolina Rau Freraut is also identified as the owner of the restaurant Donde Juan, located on 78th Street, between 5th and 5th A, in Playa, and the company Neruda International Corporation (from Panama). Her role as a front for the Cuban regime dates back to the 1980s through her husband, Darío Melindi, whose name is associated with Arsia International S.A., a company registered in 1987 by Rodolfo Dávalos — the Castro family lawyer — in the Panamanian commercial registry. Both Darío Melindi and Rodolfo Dávalos held management positions in the same company and were involved in Grupo Solways, the Cuban representation of Meliá for the Cuba-bound Latin American market.

Tuambia SURL, Yoel Perdomo’s Online-Shopping Business

Yoel Perdomo Di-Lella, a graduate in Tourism and Business Management Consulting who started as a maitre at the Comodoro Hotel, is now also the owner of the small online-shopping company Tuambia SURL. This company is registered under his name with the number 4160, dated July 8, 2022, in the list of MIPYMES published and updated by the Ministry of the Economy and Planning.

Tuambia SURL is promoted by Yoel Perdomo himself on his Facebook profile as a shipping and food purchasing company for Cuba, an online store for “food, hygiene products, hardware, and appliances” that offers “messenger service to all municipalities in all provinces.” However, the business purpose under which it was registered states that it is a business for the “production of meat products and their derivatives.”

Additionally, Tuambia SURL includes the home delivery fast-food service Jámazon (a name that attempts to parody Amazon). They all use the logistics of Palco S.A. for the distribution, import, and storage of goods.

Note: CubaNet attempted to contact Yoel Perdomo, but as of the publication of this report, he had not responded.

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Equipo de Investigación CubaNet


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