Cuba Politics

Cuban government announces surprise inspections to fight corruption

Posted April 17, 2010 by publisher in Cuba Politics.


The Cuban government will deploy an army of auditors across the island nation Monday to track down corruption pervading the Communist society, from lowly street milk vendors to officials in powerful government agencies.

For a month, thousands of finance inspectors will descend on some 750 businesses for surprise checkups.

“Everyone is on edge about it, because you never know when an inspector will come knocking on your door,” an official with a state company, who declined to be named, told AFP.

“The problem is, if they search well, they will find (irregularities).”

The death this week of Chilean contractor Roberto Baudrand, accused of undertaking shady business practices with state officials, and whose body was found in Havana under suspicious circumstances, has further raised anxieties about the mass audit.

On Friday, President Raul Castro swore in a new attorney general, Dario Delgado, who faces what his office says has been an increase in corruption cases over the past year and a half.

Rooted in decades of state control over the economy, corruption has become a pressing concern for the government because of its potential impact on the island’s stability during a period of political transition.

“Corruption is more dangerous than what is called internal dissidence,” said political analyst Esteban Morales.

He said the problem has been gaining ground at all levels of local and national government, emerging as a veritable “anti-revolution” that could un-do years of communist rule.

In the last two years, notably after revolutionary leader Fidel Castro handed over power to his younger brother Raul, graft has been on the rise “with increased participation of (government) leaders and officials,” according to attorney Caridad Sabo.

“There are people working for the government and state who are building a financial cushion for the day when the revolution collapses, and others are readying to transfer state assets into private hands, like what happened in the former Soviet Union,” added Morales.

He was referring to the vast privatizations of state assets in the wake of the collapse of the USSR in early 1990s, which created mammoth fortunes for a handful of Russians, who became known as the “oligarchs.”

Since assuming the presidency from the ailing Fidel, Raul Castro has launched a crusade against theft from state companies that supplies a vast and lucrative black market.

Millions of gallons of fuel and other commodities such as milk, chicken, rice, sugar or coffee are sold on the black market, where Cubans can get goods that cannot be found in the legal economy or buy them at cheaper prices.

“Without a strong social stigma and systematic moves against the various forms of corruption, many (people) will continue to profit at the expense of the majority,” Castro said earlier this month, denouncing graft as contrary to “the essence of socialism.”

Member Comments

On April 17, 2010, publisher wrote:

“For a month, thousands of finance inspectors will descend on some 750 businesses for surprise checkups.”

Interesting. Surprise inspections announced beforehand that will last for one month? Sounds like a line from The Onion.

Also, who knew there were that many businesses in Cuba?

On April 17, 2010, publisher wrote:

Here’s another article talking about the corruption in Cuba by Morales, an economist and researcher at the University of Havana’s Center for the Study of the Hemisphere and the United States.

Since when does the Cuban government announce its dirty laundry?

If this news is leaking out, what is really going on in Cuba? It must be a real mess like every man for himself and one by one senior officials get caught and replaced starting back with Lage and Perez Roque.

Just how many good Revolutionaires are left to fill in senior level positions? Oh yeah, Jose Ramon Machado who is two years older than Raul.

Not many people in the pipeline Raul. How you gonna fix this? Cracking down on corruption? Cuba cannot function without the black market and back room deals because you won’t let it.

Good luck. Maybe it’s time for a one way flight out of Cuba for Raul?

On April 17, 2010, publisher wrote:

Yoani writes about another scandal in the Cuban business world and talks about the corruption and how it is “endemic to the system”.

She says that the “army of accountants that will be unveiled in the coming days will not be able to stop the bleeding. They would need as many more to control the inspectors, to monitor the monitors, to supervise the supervisors.”

I agree. If there is corruption at the highest levels, who is watching the watchers?

On April 17, 2010, publisher wrote:

Forgot to mention this…

“There are people working for the government and state who are building a financial cushion for the day when the revolution collapses, and others are readying to transfer state assets into private hands, like what happened in the former Soviet Union,” added Morales.”

Note that this is not coming from some outside analyst in Washington DC or Miami. This comment comes from a senior official from the University of Havana.

What and WHAT???

collapse of the revolution? transfer of state assets into private hands?

Does he know something we don’t know?


On April 17, 2010, jmw1 wrote:

Good news is, the end of a half century of ‘Castro-catasrophe’ is edging closer by the minute.
The leaked information,  predicions of private allocation of state industry by Morales, and knee-jerk reaction of audits and inspections(proving what?) are all signs that the Berlin wall is about to fall again. Oh, and Chavez trying to convince the world that Fidel is in tip top condition?...

On April 19, 2010, manfredz wrote:

Lets see if another parallel to the fall of the Berlin Wall and Iron curtain occurs:
In the East it was surprising (to no one?) how many government factory and business managers suddenly had the capital to buy “their”  state company and
how many former bigwigs and middle wigs in the Stasi (state secret police) set up their own security companies…..

On April 19, 2010, jmw1 wrote:

No ‘capital’ involved: there are rewards for those who comply and assist, bullets for those who resist.

On April 19, 2010, HavanAndrew wrote:

Today the catholic church in Cuba announced that the Ladies in White should be left alone and that Cubans have lost their patience with the pace of change. The corruption issue is deep, not a surprise to us following the HavanaJournal. Its a frickin’ mess.

Obama needs to make some symbolic moves over the next week that are within his powers and don’t need house and senate approval. One move would be to announce that Washington will no longer send money to any politically motivated efforts in Cuba. Lift the travel ban affective 2012 or 2013, enough time to deny Cuba more tourist dollars but a substantial olive branch.

Most of all, its time for the world to back off and let the Cuban government collapse by itself. A long lasting change will occur when the external forces stay away. Have faith in our friends in Cuba, they are bright and educated. Remember they have been dictated to for decades, the last thing they need is for us telling them what to do.

On April 19, 2010, jmw1 wrote:

Perhaps you could persuade Chavez to stop the free oil? persuade the Chinese to stop the free ships, busses, goods and free loans? Persuade the Canadians to quit vacations in Cuba?

On April 20, 2010, HavanAndrew wrote:

About the other countries, especially Canada. Canada could be and should be the broker of a peaceful transition and my recommendation would be to get Senator Peter Stollery as the broker of change. His connections and respect throughout Latin America is superb, 100% fluent in Spanish as well as Spanish based law.

I am suggesting that the U.S. back off now because when things change, one of the problems later on will be about perception. The United States won’t want this to come back and bite it in the behind. The change will have to come from deep within the gut of nearly every Cuban on the island. They will have a difficult time to decide as they are dealing with an overwhelming amount of indoctrination and propaganda in their lives.

The change will not be a watershed moment like the wall coming down. Also, one of the difficulties will be a malaise that many Cubans have. They have been so fed up for so many years that they don’t hear or see anything any more. Quite frankly, I don’t blame them.

Also remember this. Embrace some of the positive, encourage more positive moves and then it will be easier to eliminate the bad. When one only focuses on the bad it just becomes a good old fashioned pissing match, a 50 year pissing match.