Informacion economica sobre Cuba

Posted on Thursday, 06.07.12

IKEA says it's still investigating claims it used Cuban prison labor

IKEA continues to investigate claims that it used Cuban prisoners to

build furniture.

By Juan O. Tamayo

Furniture giant IKEA told Cuban-Americans in the U.S. Congress on

Wednesday that it does not have any current business with Cuba and is

still investigating reports it contracted for prison labor on the island

in 1987.

"We will share the results of the investigation as soon as it is

finalized. We also confirmed for the members of Congress that IKEA

currently does not do business with Cuba," the Swedish company said in a


A German newspaper reported last month that IKEA used a trading company

in the communist-ruled East Germany to contract for Cuban prisoners to

build 45,000 tables and 4,000 sofa groupings. It's unclear whether the

contract was fulfilled.

"We had a good conversation with the lawmakers," IKEA US President Mike

Ward was quoted as saying. "We reiterated that we take this issue very

seriously and we understand and appreciate how important this is to the

members of congress and their constituents."

Ward and two other company executives met Wednesday in Washington with

Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, David Rivera and Mario Diaz-Balart, all South

Florida Republicans, as well as Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Robert

Menendez, D-NJ.

IKEA's statement noted that the company conducts more than 1,000 audits

per year to confirm compliance by its suppliers with its "explicit"

policy against the use of forced labor. It added that the Cuba

investigation, which it first announced last month, was being done in

conjunction with the accounting firm Ernst & Young.

Ros-Lehtinen, in a statement issued after the meeting said she

appreciated the IKEA executives' "stated commitment to transparency and

a full investigation" but added that she "will continue to press IKEA on

the status of its investigation."

The Cuban-Americans in Congress also will continue to encourage the

International Labor Organization (ILO), a branch of the United Nations,

to open a formal investigation into this matter as well, she added.

"The allegations that IKEA worked with the Castro regime in the 1980s to

use forced labor in Cuba are extremely serious," added Ros-Lehtinen, who

chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The company executives

"assured us that current mechanisms are in place to prevent such an

atrocity from being repeated."

Diaz-Balart added that the IKEA representatives also promised to

investigate whether "Cuban political prisoners" had any hand in the

manufacture of IKEA products." Cuban officials have said that prison

labor is voluntary.

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