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Posted July 05, 2004 by publisher in Castro's Cuba

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By Marc Frank in Havana | Financial Times

Cuba’s ruling Communist party has launched a far-reaching assault on “corruption and illegalities” that could lead to the expulsion of moderate members.

The campaign - yet to be reported by official government media - reflects the party’s ideological retrenchment and underlines the extent to which the government has renounced its timid market-oriented reforms of the early 1990s.

Over the past two or three months members of the party’s political bureau have been visiting local party branches to tell militants that they have one last chance to clean up their acts. The new focus on corruption has been accompanied by measures to strip state businesses of their limited operational autonomy and to scrap executive perks such as expense accounts.

A prominent voice in the anti-corruption effort has been Raul Castro, defence minister and apparently the man next in line to succeed his brother, Fidel Castro, as Cuba’s president, according to party cadres who attended high-level national and provincial party meetings two months ago. The meetings were shown a video prepared as part of Raul Castro’s anti-corruption drive.

“Raul was adamant that the revolution is threatened not just by the United States, but [by] corruption and liberal attitudes that give space for it to grow,” said a mid-level party official who attended a secret gathering at central committee headquarters in May.

The official quoted Raul Castro as saying: “Corruption will always be with us, but we must keep it at our ankles and never allow it to rise to our necks.”

According to a partial transcript of a separate meeting of top Communist party officials in Matanzas province, Jose Ramon Machado Ventura, a political bureau member, warned that Cuba was not only copying “capitalists’ management technique, but [also] its methods and style”.

Mr Machado, thought to be Raul Castro’s right-hand man, criticised “those who have copied capitalist methods so well that they have become capitalists themselves”. The Matanzas meeting was told that “liberalism, lack of control, and tolerance” are affecting the entire country. A report read at the same meeting cited 219 of a total 593 audits last year that showed that “[serious problems] of corruption continue increasing in various sectors, including tourism”.

In the video, Raul Castro reportedly makes clear that tolerance is out and discipline in. The one-hour presentation shows the younger Castro talking to tourism officials about a corruption probe into the sector.

Viewers at selected screenings were not allowed to take notes or make recordings, but five people who have seen the video say that Mr Castro was forthright in urging a crackdown on liberal attitudes.

“He says that tourism is a tree that was born twisted,” one party member said. “He insists that liberalism has led to a lack of respect for the party and government within tourism and other economic sectors, in turn creating space for corruption to blossom.”

In the film, Mr Castro concedes that Ibrahim Ferradaz, the former tourism minister, and two of three deputy ministers were replaced because they were too friendly with junior officials and unable to control corruption.

“We are not militarising tourism, but I would not hesitate to do so if I had to,” Mr Castro reportedly said. He was referring to the appointment of a top executive from the Gaviota group - the tourism company of Cuba’s armed forces - as tourism minister, and of another to head Cubanacn, the largest of five state-run tourism corporations.

According to western diplomats and Cuba analysts, the campaign may also reflect the start of the inevitable post-Fidel Castro battle for control of the party. They argue that Raul Castro is using the campaign to knock out any competitors and avoid a power struggle when the day arrives that Fidel Castro can no longer lead.

“Raul and the military have taken over tourism, the country’s most important sector, and his men control basic industry and many other positions,” one European ambassador said.

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  1. Follow up post #1 added on July 05, 2004 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Seems to me that this may be a snapshot of a bigger picture? Perhaps Raul Castro is making his powers known as he prepares to rule Cuba.

    Might I say that Fidel rules Cuba with an iron tongue and that Raul will rule Cuba with an iron fist?

    Cuba consulting services

  2. Follow up post #2 added on July 07, 2004 by atabey

    Lemantablemente la versiòn al español del sitio cuenta con una gran cantidad de errores ortograficos y gramaticales producto de una mala traducción.

  3. Follow up post #3 added on July 07, 2004 by MJD

    Government led enterprise in a Communist system whether it’ Cuba or the USSR,is a documented failure. Surprised ? When your’e making around $ 15-20 a month and the only place to purchase items are in government run dollar stores that charge exactly the same for products found in US stores something’ gotta give right ? You look for ” alternatives ,,, ” It’ a fact of life there. It doesn’t matter what your political affiliation is. You have to find a means for survival for yourself and your family. Beg , Borrow or Steal just don’t get caught…

  4. Follow up post #4 added on February 26, 2005 by CarColombia with 4 total posts

    Cuba does have to make changes just like my country Colombia and other Latin American have to make changes. Men like Ernesto Che Guevara were great leaders prime example of a great Latin American man who believed in social justice. Latin America is controlled by corrupt governments who in turn have interest with the USA who send money to those corrupt governments. No wonder why in my country many people have lost faith and trust and have turn to lefist ideals. Colombians should make changes towards social equality for all the people so that each one can live with dignity and respect. Usa should keep thier interest to themselves and not meddle in Colombia’ affairs. The drug trade is caused mainly by Usa interest and weak social structure. Americans lose focus on themselves and overly consume with materialism compare to latin Americans and Europeans that the lose sight of family structure so by that drugs become part of the American culture. Colombia is a better country than that our bad reputation is caused by the American weakness of Drug dependency. Que Viva Colombia Que Viva El Che

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