Sunday, January 23, 2011

WikiLeaks Documents Discuss Generalized Corruption in Cuba - LAHT

Latin American Herald Tribune
Caracas, January 23, 2011

MADRID – Corruption in Cuba has become a generalized phenomenon that reaches into the top leadership of the Communist Party as well as into the ranks of professionals without any political affiliation, cables from the U.S. Interests Section in Havana released by WikiLeaks say.

The newly released cables, which were written in 2006, show that the impoverished regime is "rife" with corrupt practices, the Madrid daily El Pais, which in Spain has the exclusive right to examine the information leaked by the Web site of Julian Assange, reported.

"Corrupt practices also include bribery, misuse of state resources and accounting shenanigans. In its post-Soviet incarnation, Cuba has become a state on the take," the cables say, going on to mention the purchase of jobs for hundreds or thousands of dollars, jobs that later often result in lucrative opportunities for influence peddling.

The messages from the U.S. Interests section emphasize that the police, as well as the "shipping, tourism, construction and food (sectors) are notorious for generalized theft and corruption."

Cuban officials, according to the cables, tolerate this type of "survival" corruption to a certain point, but they can act with overwhelming force and severity when the diversions of cash become significant, and this periodically leads to the firing of government ministers and other top officials.

In other cables published by WikiLeaks, U.S. diplomats also discuss the state of the Cuban Catholic Church, going so far as to say that it has essentially surrendered to the regime and renounced political activism on the island in exchange for attempting to preserve the space within Cuban society for religious worship.

"From Cardinal (Jaime) Ortega all the way down to provincial nuns, the Church mostly avoids challenging the GOC," or government of Cuba, U.S. Interests Section chief Jonathan Farrar said in a cable sent to Washington in 2008.

"Fear of drawing the ire of the GOC limits church outreach programs to narrow niches, such as caring for mentally challenged children and adults," the cable said.

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