Cuban anti-corruption drive nets cronies

HAVANA, Sept. 23 (UPI) -- A Cuban campaign against corruption in the government's higher echelons is in full swing but with results not entirely as anticipated by President Raul Castro's administration.

Government corruption, rated by analysts as a hallmark of single-party regimes with minimal public accountability, has bedeviled Cuba through the better part of authoritarian rule by the Castro brothers.


Only recently has the issue been discussed in the state-controlled media in response to Castro's economic reforms.

A cautious approach toward a market economy of sorts has led to its own dynamic of cronyism and favoritism but the government's grudging concession to an ideological shift has meant some airing of long-held public grievances over irregular practices by state sector entities, including the civil service.

RELATED New Florida-Cuba flight corridor opens

The latest media coverage in Cuba directed most criticism at the civil service, sparing Communist Party officials, indicating limitations in the freedom granted editors and journalists paid mainly by the state.

The media singled out "corrupter" and "scoundrels" in the service that put at risk Cuba's successful march toward socialism -- reinforcement of the government line that Cuba will stay on course as a socialist economy even as it repackages it with borrowings from a market economy.


The transition is likened by analysts to China's early experimentation, under post-Mao leader Deng Xiao-ping, with a communist economic model refashioned as "socialist capitalism."

RELATED Richardson returns from Cuba empty-handed

Julio Cesar Diaz Garrandes, reported to be the boyfriend of Raul Castro's youngest daughter Nilda and a former Miami resident, was among those arrested on suspicion of corruption, Juventud Rebelde youth newspaper said.

Diaz Garrandes was being held in an interrogation center for three months, El Nuevo Herald newspaper said.

Juventud Rebelde lashed out at government officials who enriched themselves "with resources that belong to the Cuban people and are so dear for a poor country oppressed by the implacable imperial lash." This was a reference to the continuing U.S. sanctions on the island country, in force since 1960 and extended this month to Sept. 14, 2012.

RELATED Don't talk oil with Cuba, lawmaker warns

The embargo came into force after Cuba nationalized the properties of U.S. citizens and corporations. Under Castro's thinly disguised reforms, the embargo is unlikely to restrain an expected surge in bilateral trade, which is booming despite the party rhetoric in the media.

The linkage to "implacable imperial lash" cited by Juventud Rebelde is the government's way of giving the anti-corruption movement a full-throated revolutionary character, analysts said.

Reports of the arrests of people close to the Castro elite are rare and a potential embarrassment, especially since the government has been secretly conducting trials and imprisonments of the allegedly corrupt since Castro launched the campaign in 2008.


Juventud Rebelde attacked "opulent speculators" -- a reference to strategically placed individuals in government and party ranks who are seen to be benefiting from the economic shift, in the style of post-communism Russia and former Eastern Bloc nations of Europe.

Financial scandals have hit Cuba's aviation, cigar and telecommunications industries and the nickel mining sector. A number of junior ministers are among those removed from government posts, arrested and known to be under interrogation or facing trial.

Latest Headlines


Follow Us