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Posted May 06, 2011 by publisher in Business In Cuba

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Rob Sequin | Havana Journal

Corruption. Unfortunately it’s a way of life in Cuba due to the failure of Communism and a centrally controlled economy.

A visit to the Black Market is an every day event for most Cubans so they can “resolve” the challenges of living in Cuba. When you see the word “resolve” used in this way, it means to borrow (and never return) something, usually from the government.

Three generations of Cubans have lived this way. Couple this with the “go along to get along” mentality in order to stay out of trouble in Cuba and there is little reason to wonder why there is corruption in Cuba.

Everyone is careful not to “resolve” too many problems or too be too successful or too openly critical of the government or to be too corrupt but, cross the invisible, moving line and you are arrested. You are removed from your state job and even your family may suffer in one way or another by losing their job, a promotion or some other perk from the cradle-to-grave Cuban social security/free healthcare/free education system.

I just read Cuba: Catching Kleptocrats by Nick Miroff from Global Post.

He writes “As part of his economic reform push, Castro wants to give more independence to Cuba’s state companies and local governments, freeing them from the need to obtain Havana’s permission for every little decision and expenditure. But a series of corruption scandals among Cuban executives in recent months has been a reminder as to how the island’s state-run economy got so centralized in the first place. As soon as the government eases up its controls, company managers steeped in graft tend to get even greedier.”

Manuel Garcia - Habanos

Manuel García, Habanos’s commercial vice-president has been in jail since August 2010. He and ten of his staff also face corruption trials for allegedly accepting bribes in exchange for selling Cuban cigars at a discount to black market distributors.

Rogelio Acevedo - Cubana

Nick goes on to write “Rogelio Acevedo, the country’s former top aviation official, was arrested last year for allegedly running a side business that chartered jets of the national airline, Cubana de Aviacion, for outrageous personal profit. There are also new reports this week that executives in the country’s lucrative nickel-processing industry are in custody and facing corruption charges.”

Alejandro Roca - Food Ministry

As reported in Granma (the “you read what we want you to read newspaper), Roca has been sentenced to fifteen years in prison after being found guilty of several crimes “continuously accepting bribes and acts harmful to economic activity”.

Max Marambio - Chilean businessman

Friend of Fidel Castro, Chilean businessman Max Marambio was sentenced to twenty years in prison for the crimes of accepting bribes, fraud, and falsification of bank or trade documents with regards to his Rio Zaza company. The crimes committed were particularly grave and required a vigorous legal response, in correspondence with the extensive damage to the national economy. This trial was connected to the Roca trial. Both men were convicted in absentia. There was no mention as to why Roca was not present.

Pedro Alvarez - Alimport and Cuba Chamber of Commerce

Pedro Alvarez, former President of the purchasing agency Alimport who then moved (or was moved) to the Cuban Chamber of Commerce is under investigation for alleged corruption. It has been reported that he was detained several times by the Technical Investigations Department in Havana.


In April 2010, Esteban Morales, said some top Cuban officials are preparing to divide the spoils if Cuba’s political system disintegrates. He continued “In reality, corruption is much more dangerous than so-called internal dissent,” Morales wrote in the piece, which appeared on the Web site of the state National Artists and Writers Union of Cuba. “The latter is isolated ... but corruption is truly counterrevolutionary because it comes from within the government and the state apparatus, which are the ones that really control the country’s resources.”

In November 2010 we heard from a source who believes that many of these charges may be “inflated” and targeted against people loyal to Fidel Castro. In other words, there is speculation that Raul Castro is removing anyone loyal to Fidel. As many know, Carlos Lage and Felipe Perez Roque were removed from office for being seduced by the “honey of power”.

So, today, maybe Raul is done cleaning house or maybe the new economic opening is seducing more government officials to be corrupt or maybe the Cuban government is looking harder for corrupt officials. The Global Post article is wrapped up this way “Cuba’s Comptroller General Office’s is currently engaged in an audit of 750 state companies, sending 3,000 investigators to look into “all sectors, all organizations and territories” and evaluate “discipline, legality and economic control,” Comptroller General Gladys Bejerano announced on state television last month. So more managers may fall in the coming weeks.”

Life in Cuba is the definition for “Damned if you do and damned if you don’t”.

  1. Follow up post #1 added on May 07, 2011 by miguel with 41 total posts

    I do not think the publisher is quite fair to the interesting artice in The Global Post, leaving out the (somewhat sad) international perspective towards the end of the article:

    “On balance, Cuba tends to rank relatively low on corruption indices in comparison to other countries in the region, rated 69 out of 178 nations evaluated last year by Transparency International. Among Latin American states, only Chile, Uruguay and Costa Rica ranked better.

    Still, kickbacks and “commissions” are standard practice among Cuban executives who make bulk purchases abroad on behalf of the government. They then stash the money in foreign bank accounts or with relatives abroad.

    Cuba’s Comptroller General Office’s is currently etc. ...”

  2. Follow up post #2 added on May 09, 2011 by RRicardo with 2 total posts

    Shame that such a great country has so much corruption…

  3. Follow up post #3 added on May 23, 2011 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    “Guayabera” crimes in Cuba article by Marc Frank talks more about corruption in Cuba.

    Cuba consulting services

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