Two Private Restaurants Closed in Havana

June 13, 2017 |

By Fernando Ravsberg

The El Litoral restaurant in Havana has been closed reportedly over money laundering accusations.

HAVANA TIMES – Cuban authorities have launched a campaign to prevent the economic opening on the island from being ripe for money laundering from abroad. The owner of two successful restaurants on the Havana seafront has been the first to be arrested.

The Police specialists made an exhaustive search of the two restaurants (Lungo Mare and El Litoral) as well as the owner’s house where they went as far as raising the floors.

The speculation is huge between the neighbors and the rest of the owners of restaurants and cafes.
One of his “paladares” had already been fined for receiving stolen goods but the source said he is now accused of money laundering tied to drug trafficking. With such a judicial case, the possibility of the businesses reopening is slim.

The Lungo Mare restaurant is the other business which has been closed.

In the Cuban economic opening to private forms of property, some foreigners have seen the possibility of investing through a Cuban with money obtained through illicit activities or simply of undeclared gains to the treasury of their countries.

Controls have tightened over the past few years, even when it involves money arriving through bank wires. Its now a common practice that before the transfer of large sums to the country the banking authorities investigate the origin and the final destination of those funds.

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  • Carlyle MacDuff

    I like the euphemism used by Fernando Ravsberg to describe MININT! “the banking authorities”. I suppose that the owner is now relaxing at the Villa Mariska and will duly confess.

  • Ryan Ross

    Just one ugly head of capitalism rearing its head.

    • Eden Wong

      “… Just one ugly head of capitalism rearing its head…”

      Lots and lots and lots of corruption going on in non-capitalist Cuba too. Look at the dozens and dozens and dozens of people who just lost their jobs in Old Havana because of skimming profits, and the 40+ Cadeca managers and tellers who were recently fired because of scams.

      These two businesses being shutdown are nothing compared to what has already been happening for decades.

      • Kennedy Earle Clarke

        Brother Eden Wong, In 1989 when Cuba discovered that one of its top military brass was involved in the illicit drug trade, Cuba executed him. Instead of congratulating Cuba, the crooked USA condemned the execution stating that Fidel feared the criminal who was more popular than him. When Cuba catches drug smugglers from the USA in its waters, it repatriates them to the USA. China, like Cuba has introduced some vestiges of free enterprise into its economic development, bearing in mind that it is a corrupt system.

        To combat the corruption in the system, China has introduced severe penalties to anyone found corrupted and pursues them world wide, returning them to Beijing where they are punished severely. What Cuba is doing is to ensure that the corruption which is practiced in the USA on a daily basis and which is the normal way of life there, does not raise its ugly head in the country. People like you who are devoid of principle and respect would be blinded by the morality of the Cuban Government.

        Brother Wong, if you do not possess a decent suit of clothing, how can you be expected to dress decently and look respectably, eh? Please to tell me brother Wong?

  • Sky

    Given the huge investments being made in some guest houses and restaurants with real top end refurbishments despite no deductibles for small businesses in Cuba and ridiculous import duties, these investments are most definitely likely to be dodgy. The only question is Whether they are dodgy foreigners or dodgy (party/military) Cubans…

  • joe ryan

    More like the ugly head of Communism cracking down on a hard work entrepreneur.

  • Eden Wong

    Not surprised at all. At was only a matter of time. I expect lots of other enterprises to bite the dust shortly as well.

    • Carlyle MacDuff

      Excellent assessment!

  • pinetree

    I would rather hear your reasons why you think Clarke’s post is incoherent, irrational and disjointed. The 40 cadec managers were caught and fired. It is a lot more risky to engage in illegal businesses in Cuba than in Capitalist countries.

    • Carlyle MacDuff

      if you are a regular reader of Havana Times ‘pinetree’ you will know that the comment made by Eden Wong about Kennedy Earle Clarke being incoherent, irrational and disjointed, applies to almost all his contributions. All the Eden Wong did was to comment correctly. Just try to re-read what Kennedy Earle Clarke wrote.

    • Eden Wong

      “… It is a lot more risky to engage in illegal businesses in Cuba than in Capitalist countries…”

      100% false. Cuba is corrupt on EVERY level, period. I deal with it with every single business transaction I make here. Sometimes it’s very minor and no more than a few bucks and a beer, other times it’s major cash.

      To think that Cuba is somehow magically less corrupt than many other places is absolutely ludicrous. Try doing any kind of business here and you’ll immediately see how every single aspect of the country requires graft.

  • CErmle

    You missed everything he was saying. Read it again.

    • Eden Wong

      “… You missed everything he was saying. Read it again…”

      I didn’t miss anything. His insinuation that Cuba isn’t absolutely riddled with corruption top to bottom is laughable.

  • rodrigvm

    They also were allowing prostitution…..I saw it last august…

  • Luis Llorens

    CNN Was The First Western News Network Granted a Havana Bureau. Odd, No?
    Humberto Fontova Humberto Fontova|Posted: Jul 01, 2017 12:20 AM Share (343) Tweet
    CNN Was The First Western News Network Granted a Havana Bureau. Odd, No?

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    “Wow. CNN had to retract big story on ‘Russia,’ with three employees forced to resign. What about all the other phony stories they do?” (tweet from President Trump, June 27.)

    Start with practically everything from CNN’s Havana Bureau for the past twenty years, Mr President. But don’t take it from me! Take it from the mass-murdering terror-sponsors who graciously bestowed CNN their platform to spread communist propaganda:

    “Propaganda is vital—propaganda is the heart of our struggle.” (Fidel Castro.)

    “Much more valuable than rural recruits for our Cuban guerrilla force were American media recruits to export our propaganda.” (Ernesto “Che” Guevara.)

    “Fidel Castro is one hell of a guy!” Ted Turner gushed to a capacity crowd at Harvard Law School during a speech in 1997. “You people would like him! Most people in Cuba like him.”

    Within weeks CNN was granted its coveted Havana Bureau, the first ever granted by Castro to a foreign network.

    Also take it from a genuine (but hopelessly naive) Spanish reporter who took his job title seriously and (very foolishly) attempted to practice his profession in the Castro-Family-Fiefdom:

    “The Castro regime assigns 20 security agents to follow and monitor every foreign journalist. You play the regime’s game and practice self–censorship or you’re gone.” (Vicente Botin, reporter for Madrid’s El Pais who was promptly booted from Cuba for refusing to play the same sniveling, cowardly game as CNN’s cuckholded –perhaps even black-mailed–“reporters” play every time they file a “story” from Cuba.)

    CARTOONS | GARY VARVEL
    VIEW CARTOON
    Also take it from a retired U.S counter-intelligence officer responsible for helping nab over 80 enemy agents, including the enemy agent responsible for the deepest and most damaging penetration of the U.S. Defense Dept. in recent history. Her name is Ana Belen Montes and –you’ll be astounded to hear that —she worked for the regime that graciously granted CNN its pioneering “news” bureau.

    “The vetting procedure starts the minute the (Cuban) regime receives a visa application,” says the man long-regarded as America’s top Cuba spycatcher. “When those smiling Cuban “guides” greet you at the airport they know plenty about you, and from several angles.” (Chris Simmons, the Defense Intelligence Agency’s top Cuban spycatcher, now retired.)

    In brief, you’re not getting and keeping a Cuban journalist visa (much less a Havana Bureau) unless you shamelessly (and genuinely) collude with Cuba’s KGB-founded and mentored ministry of propaganda. This isn’t rocket science, amigos.

    According to a recent story where CNN’s Havana-based reporter Patrick Oppmann (SURPRISE!) bemoans President Trump’s proposed Cuba policy, Uncle Sam has no better, more honorable or more trustworthy friend in the war on drugs than the Castro family, those noble purifiers of Cuban society–because according to CNN’s Oppmann:

    “Cuban officials told CNN that, despite political differences with the United States, they have provided key intelligence to help capture smugglers,” among many other heart-warming modes of selfless cooperation.

    Let’s have a look at some of the fruits of this co-operation, shall we. (please carefully note the dates.)

    HAVANA (AP) — The Obama administration and Cuba’s Interior Ministry have agreed to share information on international criminal activity such as terrorism, human trafficking and money laundering. (Jan. 17, 2017.)

    “Panamanian authorities have intercepted over 401 kilos of cocaine in a shipment from Cuba en route to Belgium. The cocaine was found in a (Cuban) container camouflaged by (Cuban) molasses tanks.” (April, 14, 2017.)

    You’ll be astounded to hear that CNN somehow “overlooked” the story regarding their Cuban benefactors getting nailed red-handed in a major drug-bust and thus making a pathetic joke of much of what CNN’s reports from Cuba…Oh! and also no mention by CNN of the following fascinating facts closely related to this theme:

    “The case we have against Raul Castro right now (for drug-trafficking) is much stronger than the one we had against Manuel Noriega in 1988.” (U.S. prosecutors in Florida to the Miami Herald, July 1996.)

    “Federal prosecutors in Miami were prepared to indict Raul Castro as the head of a major cocaine smuggling conspiracy in 1993, but the Clinton Administration Justice Department overruled them, current and former Justice Department officials tell ABC News…”It was a major investigation involving numerous witnesses that was killed at the highest levels in Washington,” said a former Justice Department official with direct knowledge of the case.

    Another theme on which CNN relentlessly “reports” are all the recent “free-market reforms!” in Cuba thanks to Obama’s policy and Raul Castro’s “pragmatism.”

    In fact, despite this constant CNN clamor, the percentage of Cubans privately employed in 2017 (under “free-market reformer” Raul Castro) is slightly LOWER than the percentage who were privately employed in 1965 when Maoist/Stalinist fanatic Che Guevara served as Cuba’s “minister of the economy.”

    You see, amigos: Unlike those who—in order to earn and keep their “journalist” visas– dutifully transcribe from Castro’s propaganda ministry, your humble servant (whose books are outlawed in Cuba and who is denounced by Castro’s media as a “SCOUNDREL! And a TRAITOR!”)— actually bothered to do some research and run the numbers.

    Recently CNN struck an ominous note regarding Trump’s proposed Cuba policy. CNN has strong suspicions that this policy is a simple ploy by hotel mogul Donald Trump to sandbag other hotel companies–so that Trump’s company can later fill Cuba with Trump hotels.

    “…the decision to prohibit business with GAESA (Cuba’s military-controlled business empire) ….is an example of Trump’s ability to impact his business’ competitors while in the White House. Trump’s prohibition, in effect, puts other hotel companies on equal footing with his personal company — not allowed to pursue future business in Cuba.”

    In brief, according to CNN, Trump’s Cuba policy constitutes a blatant “conflict of interest.”

    And speaking of conflict of interests: how many of y’all knew that CNN’s Cuba reporter Patrick Oppmann—who constantly rails against Trump’s Cuba policy of restricting tourism to Cuba—has an American wife who owns a shop in Havana that caters primarily to tourists?

    Needless to add, permission to open a shop in Havana isn’t doled out randomly by the Stalinist regime—especially to a foreigner! In fact several Cubans who had opened up small restaurants in Havana were recently arrested and had their restaurants confiscated by Stalinist authorities. Seems they weren’t sufficiently greasing the right regime palms.

    Apparently no such “irregularities” hamper the operation of the shop owned by the CNN reporter’s American wife.

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