Ministry of Interiorleadership and Organization
The Ministry of Interior was created in June 1961 and charged with maintaining Cuba's internal security, with responsibilities ranging from counterintelligence to firefighting. Between that time and 1989, the Ministry of Interior was often pitted against the MINFAR in the bureaucratic competition for primacy in ensuring national security. In contrast to the MINFAR, which since its organization has remained under the sole authority of Raul Castro, the Ministry of Interior has been variously headed by Ramiro Valdes Menendez, a Rebel Army veteran and the founder of the ministry, and by Sergio del Valle Jimenez, also a longtime revolutionary supporter. Perhaps owing to his background as a physician, del Valle launched rehabilitation programs and efforts to curtail torture. In the years immediately preceding the trial involving Division General Arnaldo Ochoa, the ministry's head was its former first vice minister, Division General Jose Abrantes Fernandez, who was a close associate of Valdes, a trusted aide to Fidel Castro, and who had also played a key role in the organization of Cuba's intelligence community, beginning in the early 1960s.
Following the events of mid-1989 that were associated with the Ochoa affair, Abrantes was sentenced to jail. The post of minister of interior was then assigned to the second-ranking officer in the FAR, Army Corps General Abelardo Colome Ibarra, a close associate of Raul Castro. During the ensuing months, the top layers of leadership of the ministry's various directorates were purged and their officials replaced by men who had a background as loyal officers in the FAR. By the late 1990s, a few reports suggested that some of the once-purged Ministry of Interior officials, mainly those who had had backgrounds in intelligence, were being invited back on a selective basis. Nevertheless, some analysts maintained that even a decade later the ministry had still not recovered from the shake-up that followed the Ochoa affair. As of 1999, Colome Ibarra continued to head the ministry and served as its representative on the Council of Ministers.
At the time of the shake-up, the Ministry of Interior was organized with six vice ministries, each of which was in turn responsible for various directorates and departments. Despite some name changes, this basic structure is thought to have remained intact since 1989. The most important of the vice ministries is that of the first vice minister. The first vice minister has authority over a number of key directorates and departments, including the General Directorate of Personal Security (Direccion General de Seguridad Personal-DGSP), which is responsible for safeguarding the life of the Cuban leader; the General Directorate of Special Troops (Direccion General de Tropas Especiales-DGTE); the General Directorate of Border Guards (Direccion General de Guardafronteras - DGG); the Technical Directorate; and the directorates of immigration, control, codes (sometimes referred to as the Eighth Directorate), and weapons. The Central Laboratory of Criminology is also under the first vice minister's jurisdiction.
The remaining five vice ministries have more specific responsibilities. They include the Vice Ministry of Counterintelligence, which is responsible for the Directorate of Counterintelligence (Direccion de Contra Inteligencia); the Vice Ministry of Intelligence, which oversees the Directorate of Intelligence (Direccion de Inteligencia-DI); and the Vice Ministry of Political Affairs, which reportedly is jointly subordinate to the head of the PCC Central Committee's national security commission, as well as to the minister of interior. The Vice Ministry of Internal Order has authority over the following directorates: National Revolutionary Police, Penitentiary Establishments, Prevention and Extinction of Fires, and Identity Cards. Lastly, the Vice Ministry of the Economy is responsible for overseeing the ministry's administrative functions, including planning, budgeting, and exercising inventory control over motor vehicles and warehouses.
Other ministry subdivisions that are organizationally independent of the vice ministries include the directorates of Cadres, Personnel, and Instruction; Information; and International Relations. The ministry's Secretariat, a body established in the 1980s and which maintains the central archives, is thought to still be responsible for overseeing the aforementioned directorates. In addition to the personnel who may be stationed abroad, the ministry also maintains delegations in each provincial capital that work closely with the local PCC in helping to carry out the charges of the sundry directorates and departments.
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