TECHNOLOGY PENETRATION IN VENEZUELA
Research Assistant, Institute for Cuban & Cuban-American Studies,
University of Miami.
Notorious communist Commander Ramiro Valdes, former head of Cuban State
Security, arrived in Venezuela in 2010 as Cuba’s Minister of
Communication and Information. He claimed his visit was to help solve
Venezuela’s energy crisis. Yet Valdes’ background shows no prior
experience in electrical engineering.  His trip to Venezuela shone
light into a shady world of refined totalitarian repression and
control through information technology software.
Ramiro Valdes’ trip alarmed many who were familiar with his ruthless
past and questioned the real purpose of his trip. As the Minister of
Communication and Information, Valdes continued to promote repression
by justifying the Cuban government’s Internet restrictions stating
that the Internet is “a tool of global extermination” that must be
controlled.  Concern with his visit was also heightened by reports
that, since 2005, Cuban company Albet S.A. (Albet Ingeneria y
Sistemas) was engaged in information technology businesses in
Venezuela. Valdes had signed contracts delegating Albet the
responsibility to manage Venezuela’s Administrative Service of
Identification, Migration and Alien Affairs (SAIME). 
Albet S.A. is a Cuban software company closely linked to the
University of Havana’s Information Science (UCI), a project of the
Cuban regime. The company develops software for official government
use, among other services, that are exported to Latin America with
Venezuela as the main importer.  In an interview given to
Venezuela’s daily newspaper El Nacional, former Venezuelan government
consultant Anthony Daquin assured that “Albet is a camouflage of
Cuba’s G2.”  The statement confirmed what some already concluded,
considering that all national companies on the island are owned by the
communist regime and managed mainly by the military. In its website,
Albet embraces its “commitment to the Revolution.” 
The year after Valdes’ trip, El Nacional published a special edition
detailing that the Venezuelan government had granted Albet S.A. the
contract to provide and administer the software to manage SAIME’s
functions. SAIME’s functions include creating and issuing electronic
identification documents (ID cards and passports) and maintaining a
civilian registry. The software also manages databases for:
• Public and private registries,
• Centers to analyze information,
• Educational software,
• Project “Alba Guardia” database which keeps track of oil rigs
managed by PDVSA, Venezuela’s national oil company,
• The President’s communication office,
• Any information pertaining to the country’s prison, security,
emergency and hospital systems. 
It is particularly alarming that a non-Venezuelan company manages the
country’s civilian registry and has the ability to issue personal
identification documents. It does not only violate Venezuelan
sovereignty but it exposes the personal information of every
Venezuelan citizen to Cuban authorities.
Anthony Daquin also explained how certain clauses in the contract
“provide all data for registered Venezuelans which allow combining
information from the National Electoral Council, the Senait, and SAIME.”
 It is probable that the irregularities present in the 2013
Venezuelan Presidential elections are linked to the Cuban regime’s
manipulation of the civilian registry. Presidential candidate,
Henrique Capriles, denounced thousands of irregularities, among them
the growth of 943% more votes for Maduro compared to 2012 results for
Chavez in those same electoral centers, and the presence of more than
600,000 deceased people in the electoral registry.  It was
additionally reported that in an electoral center in Montalban, a
neighborhood of Caracas, a man had 40 Venezuelan identification cards
in his possession. Also, residents in the area noted that some of the
people voting had never been previously seen and had Cuban accents.
Albet’s control of Venezuela’s SAIME can also be a source of concern
for the United States. In 2008, the U.S. Department of the Treasury
designated two Venezuelans, Ghazi Nasr al Din and Fawzi Kan’an, as
Hizballah supporters. Both men, together with two of Kan’an travel
agencies, were facilitating travel for Hizballah supporters.  It
can be assumed that because Albet controls the software for SAIME,
Cuba is also an accomplice in issuing Venezuelan identification and
possibly passports to terrorists.
 Ramiro Valdes entry in the official Cuban government online
encyclopedia EcuRed shows no electrical engineering background or
experience. He has extensive military training and led for many years
the island’s State Security apparatus.
Ramiro Valdés, EcuRed 2013. http://www.ecured.cu/index.php/Ramiro_Valdés
 Cuba, Informe Anual 2008- Américas, Reporteros sin Fronteras
 “Dicen que Venezuela es la URSS de Cuba durante la Guerra Fria” El
Nacional. May 25, 2010.
 “UCI: una década de sueños realizados” Cubahora (2012)
 “Cedula electrónica a la cubana” Siete Dias Special Sunday
Edition, El Nacional. July 17, 2011.
 Albet website, 2013. http://www.albet.cu/valores
 “Cedula electrónica a la cubana,” 2011.
 “Principales irregularidades denunciadas por Capriles en las
elecciones del 14A” Globovision April 16, 2013.
 “Las dudas del 14A” El Universal, April 21, 2013.
 Treasury Targets Hizballah in Venezuela, US Department of the
Treasury, June 18, 2008.