CORRUPTION

27 03 2011

 

The daily newspaper Granma reported on Thursday 24th March that former Minister of Food Industries Alejandro Roca Iglesias had been tried and recommended to receive 15 years’ imprisonment for the crime of complicity in and acts prejudicial to economic activity or contracting.

The same hearing heard – in the absence of the defendant, who is in Chile – a case against Max Marambio Rodriguez, for the crime of complicity in the falsification of banking and commercial documents. He was recommended to receive 20 years’ imprisonment.

This was a major case. Marimbio was a former armed revolutionary in Chile, who became head bodyguard for Chilean socialist President Salvador Allende. He fled Chile for Cuba when General Pinochet led a military coup against the elected government and slaughtered thousands of his opponents. He was reportedly a close friend of Fidel Castro. He ended up as head of a joint enterprise company with the Cuban Government, manufacturing fruit juices. Most tourists will be familiar with the pale blue cartons of drink, which disappeared from Cuban shelves for several months last year when the scandal broke.

Other than a small article of three paragraphs on page 2 of Granma, I am not aware of the case or its details receiving much publicity here. The same is true of another scandal, involving the head of the Cuban national airline. The Cuban Government is understandably nervous of revealing its murky secrets to the eyes of its enemies. However, US papers such as the Miami Herald have already reported on the cases. Cuba’s enemies are well aware of them. The people who are kept in the dark are the Cuban population.

My friend describes the Cuban Government as being like an over-protective parent of a young adult, who will not recognise that their child has grown up and needs to be treated with a certain amount of trust. This seems to me like a good simile. When will the Cuban leadership treat its people like the grown-ups that they are? They already receive much information and disinformation from various sources, including travellers from Miami bringing memory sticks full of articles from the US media. The best approach to my mind would be to be as open and frank as possible. The Cuban people have put up with much over recent decades, due to the illegal US economic blockade and inefficiency, bureaucracy and corruption in the Cuban economy. The least that they can expect in return is to be treated like adults.

NB The house pictured above has nothing to do with these cases. It is just a nice house in the Vista Alegre district of Santiago. It is an example of the kind of houses that some Cuban families – including those who have acquired wealth through illegitimate means – live in. I am not suggesting that this is the case with this house.

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