Posted on Tuesday, 05.14.13
Cuba government minister reports on corruption in international deals
By Juan O. Tamayo
Cuban government officials must fight “a grand battle” against
corruption in areas such as business deals with foreigners and the
distribution of gasoline, according to an official news media report Monday.
Rodrigo Malmierca, Minister of Foreign Commerce and Investment, gave a
cabinet meeting Friday a report on the “irregularities detected in the
functioning of businesses with foreign capital and international
contracts,” the state-run Web page CubaDebate reported.
“He declared that among the principal causes … that make these acts
possible, the foremost are the lack of rigor, control and exigency all
along the deals, as well as the conduct and attitudes of the officials
implicated,” CubaDebate added.
The Web report did not detail the cases, but the Cuban government has
been rocked in recent years by a long string of corruption scandals
involving top figures, from a former armed forces general to a couple of
deputy ministers and even the boyfriend of a daughter of Cuban leader
Two Canadians and a British citizen have been detained for investigation
on complaints that they paid bribes to Cuban officials who gave them
advance knowledge of government contracts and favored their bids.
Malmierca told the Council of Ministers cabinet meeting that audits
carried out by the General Comptroller’s Office “merit study to make
sure that lessons are learned and the same errors are avoided in the
future,” according to the web page’s report.
Minister of the Economy Adel Yzquierdo also reported to the cabinet that
corruption and theft are rampant in the fuel sector, especially gasoline
stolen from government stocks and sold on the black market.
“The high demand and profits in this illegal business creates a
permanent siege of employees in this sector by unscrupulous people who
later sell the fuel for up to 60 percent less than the official price,”
Havana has been rife with widespread but unconfirmed reports in recent
days about the arrests of several top officials at CUPET, the state
monopoly on gas stations and one of the main sources of black market
Yzquierdo noted that new technology is required to measure, store and
distribute the fuel, as well as to calibrate the measuring equipment — a
key way in which gasoline is stolen.
CubaDebate reported that the cabinet agreed that on the economic front,
“the grand battle today is against our own deficiencies and limitations
in all the sectors.”
Minister of Industries Salvador Pardo Cruz reported, for example, that
between 2001 and 2010 the government spent about $680 million importing
products that before then had been made on the island, according to the
Web page’s report.
Malmierca also reported that Cuba’s service sector has become the
biggest source of hard currency for the island. CubaDebate gave no
further details, but Malmierca apparently referred to tourism and the
tens of thousands of Cuban medical personnel working for foreign