Informacion economica sobre Cuba

Posted on Wednesday, 06.13.12

Cuba replaces 2 Cabinet ministers


Associated Press

HAVANA — Cuba on Wednesday announced the removal of two Cabinet

ministers amid unconfirmed reports of corruption investigations and

arrests in the sectors they oversaw.

An official notice published in the Communist Party newspaper Granma

said Communications Minister Medardo Diaz Toledo will rejoin the armed

forces and be replaced by Vice Minister Maimir Mesa Ramos.

Tomas Benitez Hernandez is also out as head of the Ministry of Basic

Industries, which controls mining and energy. He will be assigned

unspecified "other tasks," and deputy Alfredo Lopez Valdes is being

promoted to fill Benitez's post.

The report gave no explanation for the change, but the fact that both

men are apparently being reassigned and not simply dumped indicates that

they themselves are not involved in any probes. But the removals come

amid reports of turmoil in both ministries.

"It's a sort of clean-out of the houses, the long-practiced technique of

disguising failures … by changing faces," said Paul Webster Hare,

British ambassador to Cuba from 2001 to 2004 and now a lecturer in

international relations at Boston University. "Both those areas clearly

have been subject to a fog of unfulfilled expectations."

Since last year there have been persistent rumors and some foreign media

reports about alleged embezzlement at state phone company Etecsa

involving an underwater fiber-optic cable strung from Venezuela.

More than a year after the $70 million fiber link landed in February

2011, there is no sign that the cable has come online and officials have

stopped talking about the project.

Businesspeople also say privately that some have been detained at the

Moa nickel mine, which is overseen by the Ministry of Basic Industries.

Even as President Raul Castro's government has waged a very public

crusade against corruption, Cuban officials have declined to comment on

any of the recent graft investigations, which have caught up

businesspeople and mining employees and shuttered several

foreign-operated companies at least temporarily.

Recently the streets of Havana have been abuzz with speculation about

the fate of Miguel Alvarez, the right-hand man of Parliament President

Ricardo Alarcon.

The Miami Herald reported last week that the right-hand man of

Parliament President Ricardo Alarcon, Miguel Alvarez, had been arrested

along with his wife in a probe of alleged corruption. The report, which

cited an anonymous source in Cuba, has been impossible to confirm, and

Cuban officials declined to comment.

While there's no sign that Alarcon is a target, Hare said having such a

close associate ensnared would still deal a blow to his reputation.

"It would be very difficult for (Alarcon) to dissociate himself from

that unless he could prove he was the one who tipped them off over it,"

Hare said. "I think it's bound to taint him."

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