Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Routing Out Corruption in Cuba Will Require Transparency, Now Missing

Yoani Sanchez - Award-winning Cuban blogger

Routing Out Corruption in Cuba Will Require Transparency, Now Missing in
Posted: 02/28/2012 3:18 pm

Several months ago a friend gave me this magnificent manual entitled
"Toolbox for citizen control of corruption." Accompanied by a CD with
numerous practical examples, I have read it in search of answers to a
scourge that hits us harder every day. Right now we are surrounded by
calls to eliminate the diversion of resources and theft in State
enterprises. Thus, I have immersed myself in the pages of this book to
learn what we, as individuals, can do in the face of such occurrences.
Not surprisingly, I discover a word repeated over and over throughout
every chapter: transparency. An effective anti-corruption campaign must
be tied to exposure and denunciations in the national media. For every
misappropriation a news report must offer the details, each embezzlement
must face the most intense public criticism.

The calls made by the General-President at the recent conference of the
Cuban Communist Party to eliminate secrecy, however, do not seem
directed to throw all the necessary light on acts of this nature. There
is an obvious selection of what can be said and what cannot be said, a
clear line between what is publicly permitted and what is not. For
example, still today, they have given us no details in the national
press about the corruption in the Institute of Civil Aeronautics, which
led to the dismissal of its president, Rogelio Acevedo. Nor a single
word yet about the latest scandal in the banking system which has led to
the investigation of several of its employees, although it still hasn't
"touched" anyone in senior management. And what about the fiber optic
cable between Cuba and Venezuela, which hasn't brought us Internet but
rather rumors about functionaries ousted for having stolen a part of its
budget. And these are not just whispers: it's enough to travel through
the recently repaired Linea Street tunnel to see that a good share of
the materials destined for its restoration didn't end up being used in
it. Why doesn't television talk about ALL of that?

It falls back into the same mistake: verticality. The fight against
corruption is not only the task of a State or of the Comptroller General
of the Republic. We citizens must all become involved, with the
certainty that anyone can be called out for putting their hands in the
national till. If the impression that there are "untouchables" continues
to rule, thieves no one can judge because of their political history or
their ideological fealty, then we cannot move forward. The day when we
see one of these untouchables criticized on TV for diverting goods,
adulterating prices, or lying about production figures, then we will
begin to believe we are on the way to eliminating such a widespread
problem. Meanwhile, I look at the manual I now have in my hands and it
seems like nothing more than a list of improbable actions, a reservoir
of illusions impractical here.

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