Is it a Crime in Cuba to Report a Corruption Case?

August 31, 2017 |

Will they put the journalist from Matanzas on trial?

By Arnaldo Mirabal  (from his blog)

The Concordia Bridge in Matanzas where corruption cases appear to be washed under.

HAVANA TIMES — It’s easy to get tired, to send everything to hell and get on with your own life. It would be easy, all you’d have to do is adopt the mantra of those three wise monkeys and avoid greetings from my neighbors, the ones who always approach me to tell of an age-old problem that has no solution.

It’s easy to get tired, I know, and being tired is OK. I know a lot of old activists who have been beaten by this extreme tiredness and have preferred to spend their last days cut off from everything. There are others, however, who continue to fight in spite of all the crap that reigns and stinks in many of the island’s corners.

The worst thing is that there are lots of people who like to smear this crap about while they cover their noses saying that nothing smells bad, and if your nostrils do catch a whiff of this fetidness, your face can’t show any signs of disgust. This is what happens with corruption in Matanzas. This is what happened in the “Marta Odalys” case, the former president of the municipal government who was removed from her position.

That phrase of “you don’t have proof and Marta Odalys can sue you for libel.” That is to say, I can be taken to trial for trying to find out about the truth, and as I have already been a victim of this before, no argument would be able to protect me no matter how valid it was. I have been trying to demand, at every meeting I take part in, that the circumstances under which this government official was dismissed be made public. Many honest people close to me know that I am not lying.

I have been demanding clarification about the subject because I am a firm believer that the media need to play a more active role in tackling this evil that is overwhelming and disturbing our economy, and it is demobilizing so many honest revolutionaries.

Just as Julio Garcia Luis wrote in his important work Revolucion, socialism, journalism, no case of corruption has come to light here through the media’s investigative reporting. We Cuban journalists have become a new species of doctor who are responsible for carrying out the autopsy and identifying the causes that led to the deceased’s disease, read here corruption, but we are never able to catch this evil in time.

And like I have just confirmed, a sinister tangled mess is being created around the corrupt, which makes them untouchable once their excesses are discovered, such as in Marta Odalys’ case. Even as I type right now, she isn’t guilty of doing anything, but the journalist who dares to investigate the case is.

Marta Odalys

A few days ago, I found out from several neighbors that the demoted leader was taking up a new position as the head of the Municipal Education Support Services Management company (EPASE). This is what happened when she stopped acting as a leader, her new responsibilities have spread like gunpowder and a lot of people aren’t indifferent to this… although other people prefer to disappear or pretend not to understand the issue (the same people who placed her in her new position and have silenced her crimes? I ask).

On the other hand, it’s pathetic that somebody is accusing me of having malevolent feelings towards this woman. “Arnaldo, you’re caught up on her,” they told me. Such a childish remark could only be the result of political ignorance or engagement with Marta Odalys. Political ignorance because when it comes to corruption, there shouldn’t be half measures or whiny comments, if she was dismissed from her role because of “tactics” they need to be made public, people need to know. The day trials are made public and made an example of, the corrupt will know what they have to abide by: nothing is more powerful than the population’s scorn. And in Cuba, and in the rest of the world, the corrupt and embezzlers are scorned.

What should we understand or make of the silence that surrounds this case? When I heard these two demobilizing phrases which accused me of libel or having negative feelings towards Marta Odalys, I decided to delete my post. However, on top of that, Cartas desde Cuba (Fernando Ravsberg’s blog) had published it. And I don’t need to tell you what being published by Ravsberg means for a journalist. According to what I have read, he is the one to blame for a lot of our misfortunes.

However, my intention when I deleted my post wasn’t to bury the news and step on it. On the contrary, I went back to the same source to investigate Marta Odalys’ possible innocence. “She’s corrupt,” she told me. And she began to list the irregularities committed under her leadership at the municipal assembly.

And then I felt tired, tired of all the hypocrisy, tired of all the fakeness, hiding the problems that travel by word of mouth and whoever should be fighting these, prefer to hide it as if it were dirty laundry. It’s much easier to lead like this, turning your back on reality, covering your ears, not hearing the people’s complaints; while they look at the fuel card they’ve been given.

Sometimes, I think that certain bosses, officials and leaders only care about their car working. Maybe that’s why they look at me shocked when I tell them that Jesus Menendez travels on the train. Jesus Menendez is my model of Communist Fighter. Is it tiresome to travel by train? Well, that’s how the Cuban people travel, and although my way of thinking might seem child-like to some, I think that the leaders of my country should live all of the difficulties the people experience, firsthand.

And to put them on their toes even more, Che Guevara used to share the idea that leaders need to work a month in the fields per year so that their brains don’t become bureaucratized. I’m not asking for much, I’m happy with them just traveling on public transport for a month so that they can soak up the pure and tough reality that Cubans who travel on the bus experience. I’m sure they will also find out about many other corruption cases and about the many other oppressive problems our society has.

At this point in time, I don’t give a damn what people think about me; some will think that this is all about me wanting to be the center of attention, others, about my anxiety of being victimized, and there will even be people who think that I am fighting for a trip… Luckily, there are people who know me well and know what I’m talking about. Now that I have done the math, I’ve realized that my arguments and way of thinking haven’t changed very much over all these years.

I am indeed anxious, people demand proof and different sources about corruption a lot of the time when there are a lot of people who want to hide it, and few, almost none, who are eager to expose it.

I continue to believe in a better Cuba, but if I realize that everything I believe in is an illusion, I will continue to cling onto this illusion, happy and activist to the end.

I am listening to the song Testamento by Silvio while I write this, and I’ve discovered that I owe a lot of my posts on my blog to my Cuba of today, the one I love with all of my heart, but I will never write words about uprooting, or distance, because no matter how paralyzing this tiredness may be, I will stay, it’s a question of my own principles.

And to finish off, I also demand an explanation for what happened to the manager of Matanza’s Trade and Food Service Company, who embezzled millions of pesos and managed to escape the country. And nobody said a word…

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What's your opinion?

  • Carlyle MacDuff

    A good description of a communist society.

  • Gerard Matthews

    Those who commit fraud or embezzle vast amounts of money generally have contacts in high positions of power!

  • steve webster

    In Canada people In power are held to a high standard and often removed from positions in power for diverting resources. In Cuba it is a way of life to steal. The well connected think that it is their right and step on anyone who try to stop them.

    • Carlyle MacDuff

      i was scratching my head steve webster and trying to think of any examples of people in power in Canada being: “held to a high standard and often removed from positions in power for diverting resources”. Apart from a former Liberal Cabinet Minister who protested that: “I am entitled to my entitlements”, I coudn’t think of any. Could you name a couple?
      I agree with you that theft is a way of life in Cuba developed as a consequence of people struggling to survive under the Castro regime.