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Cable en el que se describen algunas forma de corrupción en Cuba

"El embajador español Alonso dice que todos necesitan la corrupción para sobrevivir. En la mayoría de los países latinoamericanos un escándalo de corrupción es que una persona robe 11 millones de dólares; en Cuba, que 11 millones de cubanos roben un dólar cada uno"

ID: 66747
Date: 2006-06-05 19:32:00
Origin: 06HAVANA11650
Source: US Interests Section Havana
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Destination: VZCZCXRO8439
DE RUEHUB #1650/01 1561932
R 051932Z JUN 06

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 HAVANA 011650





E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/05/2016

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Classified By: COM Michael Parmly; Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

1. (SBU) This edition of "Cartas" features the following

-- Paras 2-4 Medical Malpractice
-- 5-8 Baseball, Music and Racism
-- 9-11 China Syndrome
-- 12-19 Diplomatic Corps Reflections
-- 20-22 Bracing for the NAM


2. (U) NEWS: USINT is always looking for human interest
stories and other news that shatters the myth of Cuban
medical prowess, which has become a key feature of the
regime's foreign policy and its self-congratulatory
propaganda. Two articles appeared this week in our roundup
of news about Cuba that we collect and disseminate daily:

--Dateline 31 May: XXXXXXXXXXXX has publicly
denounced Cuban medical incompetency in handling Jamaican
patients who traveled to Cuba for eye surgery. Of 60 such
patients he surveyed, 3 were left permanently blind and
another 14 returned to Jamaica with permanent cornea damage.

--Dateline 1 June: 14,000 Bolivian doctors are on strike to
protest the 600 Cuban doctors who have been shipped into the
country, with no concern as to displacement or unemployment
among the Bolivian doctors, or qualifications of the Cubans.

3. (U) In a recent appearance on Miami Cable TV station 41's
"A Mano Limpia" interview show, Cuban doctor and former
Director of Family Medicine in the Ministry of Health,
Alcides Lorenzo, slammed the Cuban medical system for being
overly politicized. Lorenzo had just defected to the USA via
Mexico, where he missed his connecting flight from Cancun to
Havana, on the way back from an international conference in
Peru. According to Lorenzo, Cuban doctors spend two-thirds
of their time going to political meetings, as opposed to
treating patients. Lorenzo also said that Cuban medical care
was grossly understaffed and underfunded at home as a result
of the "medical missions" overseas, particularly to
Venezuela. Unfortunately for Lorenzo, or any other Cuban
doctor who considers defecting from a "mission" overseas, his
family is held hostage in Cuba and will not be permitted to
leave the island.

4. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX to Havana (protect) told COM
that Cuban medical incompetence "murdered (her) mother" over
the 2006 New Years holiday. The mother was visiting from New
York City, and required hemodialysis, which the Cuban
government promised XXXXXXXXXXXX would be state-of-the-art
at Havana's "modern" kidney disease center. When the
XXXXXXXXXXXX arrived for treatment, the Cubans injured
her while trying to find an entry port for the dialysate;
searching frantically for alternative veins the doctors
miscalculated and caused internal bleeding and eventually a
coma, from which the patient never recovered.

Baseball, Music and Racism:

5. (C) COM and several USINT colleagues went to the
Industriales-Santiago (World Series equivalent) baseball game
at Latinoamericano stadium in Havana. It was a great,
hard-fought game. (In the end, Industriales won, coming back
from a 4-2 deficit to go ahead 8-4, and eventually finishing
10-7.) What was striking at the game, however, was not on
the field but rather in the stands. First thing: The
Industriales crowd was visibly "criollo," i.e, of Spanish
descent, with very few black faces on their side of the
field. The Santiago supporters, on the other hand, were
heavily black. Their music, played in the stands, was
entirely of an Afro-Cuban beat. There were also ample dashes
of santero flavor among the SdC followers. What really
highlighted the racial split, however, was the chants among
the Industriales fans. If a Santiago pitcher was working on

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an intentional walk, the fans would yell, "Pitch, mommy,
pitch!" That then evolved into "Pitch, guajira, pitch!"
Then came allusions to the pitcher lacking all of his
manhood, again with clear racial overtones.

6. (C) Cubans told COM that the catcalls, chants and
aggressive behavior are not new. They did say that there has
been a marked increase in such racially-overtoned slurs in
recent years. One devoted baseball fan remarked that the
regime encourages such aggressive behavior in order to take
folks' minds off where the real problem lies.

7. (C) The following morning, COM and Mrs. Parmly strolled
over to the Callejon de Hamel, a tourist trap in downtown
Havana set up a few years ago by popular artists. All the
artists there were black, and were very much into
accentuating their race in their art, in their dress and
hairstyles, and in their behavior. The alleyway hosted an
impromptu concert of Afro-Cuban and even pure Afro rhythms,
with both musicians and many black Cubans in the crowd
singing along. The show was put on partly to address foreign
tourists: The alleyway is listed in tourist guides, and
there was a Havanatur bus right outside the street, which
disgorged mainly Canadian tourists. Still, the artists and
musicians were "into their own thing" for the most part.
There was surprisingly little panhandling or otherwise
pitching to the foreigners in the public.

8. (C) Comment: These two snapshots were a window into a
part of Cuban life with a dynamic all its own. They
underline the existence of at least two Cubas, and explain
why so many regime supporters and sympathizers are obsessed
with the notion of unity, precisely because they know how
hard that unity will be to maintain when change becomes more
openly energized.

China Syndrome:

9. (C) A couple of weeks ago, there was a concert at Amadeo
Roldan theater that featured a Chinese conductor as guest of
the National Symphony. It was part of the normal Sunday
afternoon series. The Chinese Embassy made a big deal out of
the Chinese guest conductor, turning out a pretty much full
house of Cubans and others (presumably a large Chinese
contingent), and most importantly, the visiting Chinese Vice
Minister of Culture, who was in town on an official visit.

10. (C) After the concert, several officials got up to speak.
Leading the Cuban cohort was Abel Prieto, Minister of
Culture, who had the usual things to say about the depth and
strength of Cuban-Chinese ties. All the speakers got the
usual polite applause. Then the Chinese Vice Minister got
up. Rather than just respond with counter-inanities, he
launched into a speech on the success of the Chinese economic
model, including noting the degree to which openness to the
world, encouraging private initiative and letting individual
creativity have free rein were key to economic progress. The
audience went cold. Not a clap, not a peep when the Minister
finished speaking.

11. (C) Chinese Appliances: Cubans who visit USINT tell us
frequently that new, supposedly energy-saving appliances made
in China are of very poor quality. The small refrigerators
have earned the nickname of "underarms," because they break
quickly and are seen on the streets carried under the arms of
their unhappy owners to the repair facilities (which of
course are understocked with spare parts). The new
Chinese-made ovens have a blue plastic thermostat button
which users say melts when the ovens are heated up to normal
baking temperatures.

Diplomatic Corps Reflections:

12. (C) Spanish Ambassador Alonso (May 26) described the
fight within the "nomenklatura" for the soul of the future
Cuban regime. Fidel, with his railings against "Forbes"
magazine and his narcissistic rollout of Ignacio Ramonet,s

HAVANA 00011650 003.2 OF 004

book, is "present for now," but not for the future.
According to Alonso, there is a deep split within the
government circles that can be summarized as Consumption vs.
Investment. Alonso portrayed the split with anecdotes.
Everyone knows the infrastructure is collapsing. Look at
the transport network, Alonso said. Cuba got from China 12
shiny new locomotives, which were presented/rolled out with
great fanfare by Fidel and others. That was several months
ago. They have still not entered into service. Reason: The
locomotives are designed to work at peak efficiency at speeds
far in excess of what the rickety Cuban rail network will
allow, unless the regime is willing to risk derailment, which
it is not.

13. (C) So, Alonso continued, the regime comes back to its
choice: Does it put what money it has in repairing the rail
(and bus) network, or in continuing to subsidize tariffs for
the average consumer? For some time, the urban transport
system has needed to decide on a fare hike, but there are
those within the ruling circles who say such an increase
would trigger a strong negative popular response. The new
Chinese Yutong buses have been put into use on inter-urban
lines, accompanied by steep fare hikes. (Comment: These
have already been announced in "Granma" and "Juventud
Rebelde;" the papers talked of hikes of 100 to 250 percent in
most inter-urban fares. End Comment.) However, it is quite
another thing, Alonso noted, to raise intra-urban fares.

14. (C) The regime sounds confident in its public statements.
Fidel especially sounds boisterous and bombastic. Just
below him, Alonso concluded, the officials responsible for
keeping the machinery running are much more uncomfortable,
because they realize how narrow their margin of maneuver is.
Analyzing Fidel,s reaction to Forbes, Alonso came up with
two explanations: Latin America and his anti-corruption
campaign. Alonso argued that Fidel,s primary target was
fellow Latin leaders. Whether of left or right, most Latin
political leaders are leery of Fidel, who returns the
suspicion. By trying to highlight how little money he
personally possesses, Fidel was telling his fellow Latin
politicians to beware of forces below them. (Comment:
Alonso implied, but did not state, that Fidel was threatening
his fellow Latins with popular rebellion if they did not hew
to the ALBA line. End Comment.)

15. (C) Corruption in Cuba is a fairly unique phenomenon,
Alonso said. Fidel does not fear much the street accusing
him of having stashes of cash for personal use. (Comment:
Other diplomatic sources disagree, and report that the
initial reaction of "the street" was precisely to ask where
Castro keeps his funds. Mexican Ambassador Pina described
what he heard in the following way: The average Cuban sees
the Special Period having ended at least five years ago and
the Venezuelan largesse having started flowing several years
ago. Still, however, Cubans note no rise whatsoever in their
living standards. "Where is he putting the money?" those
Cubans ask. End Comment.)

16. (C) Alonso said Cuban corruption is remarkable for its
universality. Corruption is needed by all to survive.
Alonso said that in most Latin countries, a corruption
scandal consists of a person robbing 11 million dollars. In
Cuba, it is 11 million Cubans each stealing one dollar.
There are exceptional cases, such as Political Bureau member
Robinson, who was summarily dismissed and imprisoned recently
for alleged corrupt behavior. Fidel sent an equally powerful
signal in dismissing his Minister of Auditing and Control,
Lina Pedraza Rodriguez. (The press reported that Pedraza
would be moved to other responsibilities). However, the bulk
of the corruption behavior that Fidel talks about is simply
cheating on a small scale in order to get by.

17. (C) Czech Charge Vit Korselt (May 30) said he had just
come back from Prague, where he had arranged for the
replacement of his DCM, who was recently expelled by the
regime. The new assignee will be coming from Caracas, where
he handles political and press issues. Korselt explored the
documents released several weeks ago by XXXXXXXXXXXX. He
said he was surprised by XXXXXXXXXXXX emphasis on outlawing the
Communist Party. At least 50 percent of Cuban society is
controlled by the Party, Korselt reasoned; he wondered how

HAVANA 00011650 004.2 OF 004

the next regime would be able to function with over half the
population put outside the law. (Comment: That is not what
XXXXXXXXXXXX proposed. Rather, XXXXXXXXXXXX formula is to outlaw the
party but not necessarily ban all former party members from
public life.) Korselt said he had engaged XXXXXXXXXXXX several times
on the point, but had been unable to persuade the dissident
of the logic of the Czech way. Korselt allowed that the
Czechs had been the exception, and that all the other East
European countries had followed a path proposed by XXXXXXXXXXXX in
Cuba; i.e., of banning Communist Parties, even if substitute
parties were subsequently accepted.

18. (C) Korselt also commented on corruption in Cuba. He is
convinced there are numerous multi-millionaires on the
island. He has seen too many signs -- fast cars and generous
meals at restaurants, for example -- to think that everyone
is living on 20 dollars a month. He thought this would be an
explosive factor in post-Castro Cuba.

19. (C) The UK DCM said last week that the presence of
lunatic fringe MP George Galloway in Havana put the British
Embassy in an embarassing situation. On the one hand, they
wanted to at least go through the motions of offering
assistance to an MP; on the other hand, they thought it
better not to be seen or photographed next to Galloway, who
had just released a statement saying that it would be just
fine if somebody killed Tony Blair. Galloway made two TV
apearances with Castro, in the series of "Roundtables" that
aimed to discredit "Forbes" magazine's article that ranked
Castro seventh on a list of the world's richest kings, queens
and dictators.


20. (C) As we get closer to September, when Cuba hosts the
Non-Aligned Movement Summit, we will be ever more interested
in factoids that demonstrate Cuban perfidy in NAM member
countries, of which recent Cuban history is replete. For
example, at a recent African embassy's national day
reception, P/E Officer recommended to the Angolan Charge
d'Affaires that he read (Air Force Defector, General) Rafael
Del Pino,s memoirs, which included a lot about Cuba,s
military involvement in Angola. Del Pino,s main point was
that the fighting was largely Cuban military massacring
Africans, and that it was cruel and unjustified. The Angolan
replied with the party line about Cuba helping defend Angola
from South African aggression, that the assistance was to a
sister socialist movement, etc., etc. The Charge d'Affaires,
in keeping with his African socialist principles, then said
he'd be spending his summer vacation at his investment home
in Lisbon.

21. (C) It will be hard for us to witness the NAM first hand,
but our protecting power, the Swiss Embassy, is applying to
the current NAM Chairman, Malaysia, for observer status,
which they enjoyed at the Kuala Lumpur Summit. A Swiss
journalist has also applied for credentials to cover the NAM
and was turned down. His offense: Referring to the GOC as
"the regime" instead of "the government" in his last article
about Cuba.

22. (C) We plan to feature more NAM-related items in our next
installment; stay tuned.
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