Cuba orders Chilean to appear in corruption probe
By PAUL HAVEN
Associated Press Writer
HAVANA -- Cuba has ordered a colorful Chilean businessman with deep
personal ties to Fidel Castro to appear in a corruption probe or face a
possible arrest warrant.
The decree gives Max Marambio until July 29 to appear before
investigators looking into possible bribery, embezzlement, falsifying
documents, fraud and other charges "in which the Chilean citizen stands
It warns that an arrest warrant will be issued if Marambio fails to show
up, a move that can also lead to the forfeiture of Marambio's
significant holdings in the country.
The summons is the first apparent movement in the case since April, when
a top Chilean executive who worked for Marambio was found dead in his
Havana apartment after being questioned in the investigation. The cause
of his death has not been revealed.
Marambio's office in the Chilean capital of Santiago told The Associated
Press on Tuesday that the businessman was out of the country and would
return in 15 days. It refused to say where he was, or whether he had
traveled to Cuba.
Chilean media reported several weeks ago that two lawyers for Marambio
were being sent to Havana to represent him in the case.
The summons naming Marambio appeared Tuesday in the Official Gazette,
the weighty tome where the Cuban government publishes official decrees
Marambio met Castro in 1966 while accompanying his father on a trip to
Cuba as part of a delegation of sympathetic political leaders. He later
became the chief bodyguard of Chilean socialist President Salvador Allende.
After Allende was toppled in a 1973 military coup, Marambio sought
refuge in Cuba, maintaining close ties to Castro and developing
wide-ranging business interests. Rio Zaza, the company he part-owned
together with the Cuban government, made "Tropical Island" brand juices
and other products that were ubiquitous in hard-currency stores catering
to foreigners and tourists. The brand has completely disappeared since
the probe was launched earlier this year.
The probe of Rio Zaza is one of several moves against high-level
corruption. In March, Cuba removed veteran revolutionary Rogelio
Acevedo, who had overseen the country's airlines and airports, amid
speculation that he had been caught up in a corruption probe.
Esteban Morales, a senior pro-government intellectual, published a
stinging essay earlier this year that called corruption a greater threat
to Cuba's communist system than the island's small and fractured opposition.
He warned that senior officials were waiting like vultures to snap up
the country's resources, much like the oligarchs who grabbed control of
business in the Soviet Union following its collapse.