Alvaro Hernandez was fired from a so-called private business in Cuba for posting “Down with the Dictatorship” on social media. Although it’s supposed to be a privately held company, Hernandez was told during his firing that the business was also part of the Cuban government and would not tolerate employees disparaging the regime on social media. That “private business” with obvious ties to the communist dictatorship is also a vendor of the U.S. State Department.
Cuban artist exposes State Dept. ties to ‘MIPYME’ small business that fired him for anti-regime comments
The revelations shed new light on the troubling contracting practices of the U.S. State Department at the U.S. Embassy in Havana
Cuban artist Álvaro Hernández made headlines last year after he was fired from MadWoman, a Havana-based marketing agency that took issue with his decision to write “Down with the Dictatorship,” on the X social media platform.
While Hernández’s comment only garnered two online reactions, his firing has shed new light on his former employer, raising new questions about the company’s purported links to the Cuban regime and whether or not the State Department hired a government-sponsored entity to promote its events at the U.S. Embassy in Havana.
After escaping from the communist dictatorship in Cuba, Hernández and his life partner, Betto Gongora, who also worked at MadWoman, gave interviews to ADN from the U.S. border in Mexico where the two whistleblowers are seeking asylum.
Graphic Designer Betto Gongora posing for a marketing material for MadWoman Agency | Screen Capture Instagram Post: MadWoman
MadWoman operates as an independent ‘MIPYME’ but Hernández’s supervisors implied it had connections to the Cuban regime
MadWoman purports to be a ‘MIPYME,’ an acronym commonly used to identify small businesses in Cuba run by entrepreneurs who operate independently of the socialist state. As such, they are exempt from U.S. sanctions that prohibit Americans from doing business with enterprises or individuals affiliated with the Castro regime.
The company, registered formally as MD Creativa S.R.L, was largely unknown until it fired Hernández, who recently said the agency’s Director of Operations, Laura Trujillo, and its Chief Strategist, Disley Alfonso Santos, told him in a meeting that his post was the reason behind his dismissal.
“When I got to the meeting, they showed me my post on X and asked me: “What is this?” Hernández recalls. “That is what I think,” the 22-year-old says he replied. “I didn’t say much during the whole conversation.”
The 22-year-old admitted feeling surprised that something like this was happening to him in a “private” company.
“It is something you expect on a state-owned company but not on a MIPYME,” he said, further explaining that “many times there were comments made inside the company criticizing the inefficiency of the Cuban government.”
But Hernández said that the puzzle made more sense to him when he heard Disleidy Alfonso implied during his dismissal that although they were registered as a Mipyme they were also part of the Cuban government and couldn’t have employees making such comments.
“They gave me several reasons why they had to ‘indefinitely separate me from my roles at the agency’ since they were a government-owned company and couldn’t have employees making such comments,” he recalls.
According to a MadWoman employee manual reviewed by ADN, the company requires its staff, contractors, and collaborators to “refrain from making posts or sharing content that may go against the policies established in the country [Cuba].”
ADN reached out to MadWoman, but as of the time of publishing this report, has not yet received a response.
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