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Cable sobre las medidas para combatir la corrupción en Cuba

El Gobierno cubano recluta a 20.000 trabajadores sociales para llevar a cabo su campaña contra las prácticas corruptas

ID: 61555
Date: 2006-04-24 15:33:00
Origin: 06HAVANA8769
Source: US Interests Section Havana
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Dunno: 05HAVANA23177 06HAVANA8017
Destination: VZCZCXRO2781
DE RUEHUB #8769/01 1141533
P 241533Z APR 06

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 HAVANA 008769



E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/24/2016

B. 05 HAVANA 23177

Classified By: MICHAEL E. PARMLY FOR REASONS 1.4 b/d

1. (C) Summary: One of Castro's top concerns this year is
the battle against corruption. In a campaign that began
five months ago, hundreds of state workers have been fired
or transferred. Thousands of "social workers" (unemployed
youth) were enlisted to man the gas pumps and oversee the
books at hotels. The military took over the Port of
Havana. GOC agents continue to carry out "hit and run"
raids on markets, bakeries and restaurants. The
administration of state farms has reportedly been
tightened and consolidated. The anti-corruption campaign
is geared to stem graft at all levels, but the wielding of
social workers in the effort appears to have a corollary
social goal: The inculcation of Cuba's alienated,
underemployed youth with revolutionary ideals. End

Anti-Corruption: One of Castro's Top Three Pastimes
--------------------------------------------- ------

2. (C) Castro has busied himself with three major
campaigns this year: The "Energy Revolution" to end
blackouts (ref A); the propaganda response to U.S. policy
and so-called "terrorism"; and the battle against
corruption. Of the three, the anti-corruption campaign
has had the most tangible effects on the Cuban public.

3. (C) Castro enlisted 20,000 "social workers" from Havana
and the provinces to implement his anti-corruption
campaign, initiated five months ago following major
speeches in October and November addressing the topic.
The campaign first took the form of a rumored "13
measures" followed by a murky operation called "The Rich
Folks of Today" (ref B). While the general public has not
been informed of Castro's exact targets, the GOC has
cracked down on the gas stations, ports, markets,
bakeries, hotels, and state farms. Details of the
operations filter through the rumor mill - some are
confirmed, others are hearsay.

Gas Stations

4. (C) In October, hundreds of youthful "social workers"
were bussed to the capital and sent to take over the
city's gas stations at 4:00 a.m. (the regular gas station
employees were sent home on full salary). The social
workers have been there ever since, manning the pumps and
handling gas receipts. Social workers were expected to
man the pumps for 45 days, but five months and several
rotations later they are still there.

5. (C) The fate of the regular gas station employees is
unknown, though they are among hundreds of state employees
dismissed or transferred during the anti-corruption
campaign. One former attendant is now a cashier at an
adjoining "Rapido" fast food operation, but her father is
a colonel and she has presumably benefited from his
leverage. Other former attendants have probably been
moved into less attractive jobs or manual labor (like
cutting grass along the roadways).

6. (C) The social workers say the four-month operation is
finally coming to an end and they will be sent home May 1
"to await the next mission." The GOC is rumored to be
hiring a new crop of permanent employees, but are
doubtless vetting them closely. Meanwhile, locals and
foreigners have commented that revenues at the pumps
doubled immediately upon the dismissal of the regular
employees and replacement by social workers.


7. (C) Another major but more obscure operation has been
the military takeover of the ports between October and
November of 2005. A general was placed in charge of the
Port of Havana to end the theft of imported goods. This
operation was also supposed to be in effect for 45 days
but has apparently been extended. An American visitor in
Cuba told P/E officer that his friend, a container
inspector, used to do so well he could afford to invite
his foreign friends to dinner in hard currency restaurants

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(a rare reversal of the usual dynamic). The inspector
reportedly complained, however, that the port takeover had
deprived him of his usual means of support (thieving) for
the past five months, imposing serious financial hardship
as a result. According to the American, the port
inspector was looking forward to a possible transfer to a
port in Venezuela, where oversight might be more lax.

Markets, Bakeries

8. (C) In addition to these more deliberate efforts, the
GOC has increased "hit-and-run" raids on state operations.
Farmer's markets have been a prime target, with GOC
operatives rounding up vendors to check their licenses and
verify that only farmers were selling produce (as opposed
to paid middlemen). Reuters journalist Marc Frank told
P/E Officer the GOC also conducted a recent raid on 40
hard currency "Sylvain" bakeries. Employees were rounded
up and sent outside while GOC inspectors looked for stolen
goods. According to Frank (who enjoys good contacts
inside the GOC), every single bakery harbored stashes of
sugar or flour for sale on the black market.

Hotels, Private Restaurants, State Farms

9. (C) Dutch consultant Genevieve van der Vlugt told P/E
Officer that social workers had replaced general managers
at every hotel in Old Havana run by Habaguanex (Eusebio
Leal's chain of luxury tourist accommodations). This had
thrown a wrench in the daily workings of the hotels, since
"now everyone has to behave like saints and hide their
cell phones." (Not only are Cubans prohibited from buying
cell phones, but hotel employees living righteously off
their state salary should not be able to afford one.)

10. (C) Another foreigner commented to P/E Officer that
social workers had been taking over the accounting of "all
major industries" (not just hotels), but this rumor has
not been confirmed. Similarly, the GOC is said to be
tightening up the administration of its large state farms,
or Basic Units of Cooperative Production (UBPCs), but
again, the restructuring has not been confirmed.

11. (C) Finally, Havana paladars (private restaurants)
were subject to raids by inspectors in November. Some
observers predicted a general shutdown of paladars, but
they are so far still in operation (if beleaguered by the
steep hike in electricity bills) (refs A, B).

The Brawn Behind the Operation

12. (C) Castro's social workers are not trained
professionals, but rather youth who are not otherwise
occupied with school or jobs (i.e., dropouts). P/E
Officer's Cuban neighbor complained the social workers
earned 300 pesos a month (12 USD), exceeding her husband's
military pension. (Note: the sum is a pittance, but still
considered a decent salary for Cubans without access to
hard currency. End note.)

13. (C) The social workers' youth and inexperience is
painfully obvious to all who interact with them, and
Castro has since buttressed his original 20,000 recruits
with an additional 10,000 social workers from Carlitos
Lage's Federation of University Students (FEU). These
"University Brigades of Social Workers" (Brigadas
Universitarias de Trabajadores Sociales) have gained
prominence of late and can be seen around town, at GOC
functions and in the media sporting their red "BUTS" t-
shirts. USINT has not been able to clarify the division
of roles between the two classes of social workers, nor
are we able to confirm the total number of social workers
involved in the campaign.

14. (C) Juxtaposing youth with age, Raul Castro recently
introduced "Duos" into the anti-corruption mix (two-person
teams of several thousand retired military and regime
faithful tasked with sniffing out illegal practices).
According to secondhand descriptions of a newly-circulated
video featuring Raul Castro, one pair of "Duos" uncovered
2,000 tons of missing product from a wholesale food
operation; a theft that went undetected despite 14 visits
by regular GOC inspectors. In the video, Raul Castro
reportedly questions his GOC audience (apparently without

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irony), "How can you explain this?"


15. (C) The anti-corruption campaign is geared to end
pilferage from top to bottom, but the incorporation of
Cuban youth also implies social aims. Not only will the
campaign help mop up unemployment, it will supposedly
encourage Cuban youth to invest in revolutionary ideals.
The incorporation of university students could also be
intended to smooth out class divisions by forcing the
elite to mix with the popular classes.

16. (C) Castro has given fewer public speeches of late,
and has not touched on the issue of corruption for several
months. But the ubiquitous social workers and release of
the Raul video indicates anti-corruption is still very
much in fashion with the Castro leadership. Corruption
has become the modern bane of the Revolution, and unlike
his simultaneous campaign against "U.S. terrorism," in
corruption Castro faces a real enemy.

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