Thursday, November 28, 2013

Cuba Corruption Cases Circulate Offline

Cuba Corruption Cases Circulate Offline
November 28, 2013
by José Jasán Nieves Cárdenas (Progreso Weekly)

HAVANA TIMES — The contents of USB memory sticks and DVDs now
circulating informally in Cuba reveal three realities as hard as rocks:
three cases of corruption (now dismantled) that demonstrate how
dangerous that practice is if not attacked in time and with vigor.

The unofficial videos show police operations at the Guantánamo Meat
Packing Company, the Carlos III shopping center in Havana and the
Community Services Company of Old Havana.

In the most illustrative of the three cases, the accused employees stole
more than 33 million 845 thousand pesos from the sanitation budget of a
patrimonial territory. They did so by simply making out bank withdrawal
forms that were signed by the company's director, who never reviewed the

"Every 15 days, I would [withdraw] $480,000-and-some pesos," says a
young defendant, who admits to the camera how long he and his
co-defendants engaged in the theft.

One hidden camera in the eastern province of Guantánamo showed how, as
other workers looked on impassively, employees in a meat packing company
slipped packages of newly processed meat to associates outside.

Another video revealed the shady maneuvers by employees at a
hard-currency store (one of the establishments known as TRDs) in the
Carlos III shopping mall in Havana.

In great detail, one of the arrested sales clerks describes a procedure
that is very common in almost all commercial establishments in Cuba:

"The theft is done through a document that lists the products and
merchandise that are defective. The document is taken to the manager's
office, where it is reviewed and approved. This merchandise was never
inspected by any committee."

The manager completes the story. "The employees listed the 'defective'
merchandise that they needed. They told me they'd be willing to buy it
for a pittance. The merchandise wasn't really defective."

The manager also says that the employees used sales pads instead of
computerized transactions, "so they could 'fine' [overcharge] the
clients." At the end of the day, when they recorded the products by
their actual sales codes, they would split the difference among themselves.

The lack of control over public resources, on one hand, and the
employees' greed for material needs, on the other, are two of the
conditions that these videos reveal as the causes of broken ethics.

"The key to the corruption is that I come to you, and do you favors
because you're a very needy person. I begin by bringing you a snack,
then I take you to lunch, and before you realize it you're totally
committed to me," says the main organizer of the Community Services theft.

The three examples caught on video confirm the various degrees of
seriousness and extent of corruption in Cuba. They also account for the
silence of the official media, because, as happens with increasing
frequency, the videos were conceived for "select audiences," were
leaked, and for the past several weeks have been available to the
ordinary citizen.

Many people lament that, because the disclosure of these activities
demonstrates the words of President Raúl Castro, who on several
occasions has said that a loosening of exigency leads to violations and

"That negligence, failure to do one's duty, and the ignorance of cadres
and administrative leaders [...] is also a cloak that covers all the
malfeasance and theft of not just hundreds of pesos, or thousands, or
millions, but of hundreds of millions," Castro said during a plenary
meeting of the Party's central committee.

It is hard to find an authority who will explain why these videos are
not shown to the public at large as examples of good police work and as
an acknowledgment of very deep societal problems.

Because of a history of concealing events that are detrimental to the
official image (so as not to give "weapons to the enemy") we can see in
this lack of communication by the authorities a desire to maintain the
"image of Cuba" free of those phenomena. But closing our eyes will not
make the problem go away.

Source: "Cuba Corruption Cases Circulate Offline - Havana" -

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