Bucanero-Cristal Exploits Ties to Self-Employed and Palco and Habaguanex
Executives / Juan Juan Almeida
Posted on November 25, 2015
Juan Juan Almeida, 24 November 2015 — Just as the proceedings surpassed
the scandalous total of 42 people indicted, the General Vice-Prosecutor
of the Republic of Cuba, Carlos Raúl Concepción Rangel, imposed a gag
order on the case and hid it underneath the trite mantle of “secret
character,” because — according to sources in the Prosecutor’s office —
he’s expecting the number of those involved to increase.
The investigation filtered down, and some of the people implicated
hardened themselves and beat it out of the country. Others are hiding
out; there is a border alert for them, and an order of search and capture.
Before such an emergency, and even without finishing the trial, they’re
taking the accused out of the investigation center at 100 and Aldabó —
the women to the western prison, El Guatao (known as Manto Negro), the
men to Valle Grande or the Combinado del Este. The VIP accomplices,
owing to their natural status as first-class citizens, were sent home
and asked to be “low profile” until their names could be pulled from the
file or, at least, their complicity silenced in a case that could paint
them as crooks.
Certainly the population’s complaints will increase due to the absence
of the country’s beer in Cuban markets. There hasn’t been any of the
national beer available in any restaurant or State establishment, nor in
the TRD shops, the so-called Rápidos, or Ditú*.
The Minister of Foreign Trade faces lawsuits from international
distributors for frequent non-compliance with contractual commitments.
The litigants claim that there was no delivery of Cristal and Bucanero;
but the headquarters, Cervecería Bucanero S.A., says it fulfilled its
production plans and satisfied requests without reporting anything
stolen or lost.
Everyone’s asking the same question: “Where did that beer mysteriously
go, once it left the factory, was paid for and didn’t show up in the
Indications point in only one direction: the private restaurants,
private bars and other establishments of the self-employment initiative.
The investigation started at the end of last August, when a couple of
inspectors, as lethal and accurate as good snipers, targeted a truck
from Cervecería Bucanero S.A., which each week unloaded merchandise in a
private restaurant located on the Pinar del Río-Havana highway.
Inconsistent but true because — although the Government says it’s
boosting private initiative and the press repeats the lie and many who
are misled believe it — there is a regulation that prohibits the
self-employed from buying what they sell privately directly from the
companies (whether national or foreign), that is, wholesale; they can
only buy goods in ordinary consumer stores or shops.
Ministry of the Interior (MININT forces), as part of the process of
compiling data and evidence to document the investigation’s case, and
make citizens uncomfortable, are examining the house of one of the
managers of the Bucanero warehouse, and — according to the investigative
file: “In one room (Fambá’s**), inside a safe, the police confiscated
82,000 CUC and three lists: one with the names of sellers to whom they
must pay a commission, another of Palco and Habaguanex officials, and
the other with directions for distributing merchandise.”
They’re adding prisoners to the list; the investigation is expanding;
and the anger of those organizing the case is growing, even when those
implicated find themselves facing an “accomplished fact” with no
defense. It’s difficult to imagine, because they managed to use methods
of buying and selling that are not even conventional enough to qualify
as criminal acts.
The private business owners delivered money to the officers of State
companies, Palco and Habaguanex; and the officers issued, to Cervecería
Bucanero S.A., a bill of payment (not falsified) with the amount of the
merchandise, together with an official order.
Bucanero had to deliver, and it did deliver. So sellers and buyers were
violating the regulations, yes, but not the law. And in place of being
judged for an act of corruption, they should be awarded for their
*TRD is the Spanish initials for “Hard Currency Collection Store” —
which the regime uses to ‘collect’ people’s remittances from abroad by
selling them overpriced products not available in Cuban pesos; El Rápido
is a fast-food chain; Ditú is a chain of coffee shops.
**In the African-Caribbean religion, Abakua, the Fambá is a room where
rituals are performed.
Translated by Regina Anavy