Corruption and the Morality of Survival / Dimas Castellano

Corruption — the action of corrupting — is the result of many causes, that range from personal conduct to the political-economic system of each country. It is an ancient social phenomenon to that occurs to a greater or lesser extent in all societies and has been present throughout the history of Cuba.

In the colony, the gift of the Governor Don Luis de las Casas to the Creole classes was the diversion of funds for the construction of La Cabaña, the gambling den and cockpit that the leader Francisco Dionisio Vives had in the Army Castke for their entertainment. In the first half of the twentieth century the conduct of the political-economic-military elite, emerging from the wars of independence, who made use of public positions for individual purposes, a picture Carlos Loveira reflected in his novel General and Doctors; later between 1940 and 1958 politicians and officials turned corruption into one of the worst evils, to the point where Eduardo Chibas attacked this scourge during the election campaign for the presidential elections to be held in 1952. In the second half of the twentieth century, corruption, which had been confined to the political and administrative sphere, became a widespread social phenomenon.

Thus, corruption is not new, nor did it arise with the Revolution of 1959, what it new is its presence at all levels and spheres of society and the emergence of a dominant negative morality and threatens to become the culture.

The reason for this transformation is in the slide towards totalitarianism that is weakening civic responsibility; the implementation of an economic system unable to establish an appropriate relationship between wages and cost of living, generated frustration and despair. What was the dilemma of the Cuban family in such conditions, with regards to survival?

If, in addition, this behavior was socially accepted and each family of one form or another was forced to use it, then it had to predominate. Faced with the phenomenon, the government’s response was limited to repression, vigilance, and inspection, that is, actions on the effects without attacking the causes, as reflected in the official press during the first decade of this century.

The newspaper Juventud Rebelde, May 22, 2001, in Corruption Fighter. A people’s inspector in charge of trade violations explained that when he detects a crime, the violators would say, “We have to live, we have to struggle,” and tell him, when he tried to stand up for the rights of citizens, “they defend their own victimization”; and on the 1st and 15th of October, in The Great Old Deception, he reported that of 222,656 inspections conducted between January and August 2005, by comprehensive inspectors, they found price violations and alterations in products in 52% of the commercial centers examined, and in 68% of the agricultural markets.

The newspaper Granma, November 28, 2003, in Pricing Violations and the Never-Ending Battle, says that in the first eight months of this year, 36% of establishments inspected were found to have irregularities in markets, fairs, squares and in agricultural markets the index was above 47%, and in food service establishments it was 50%.

In the February 20, 2004, Granma, in Dealing Effectively with Irregularities and Economic Crimes, the Minister of Audit and Control, Lina Pedraza, said, “The causes and conditions that cause crimes and other violations are well know,” among which she mentioned a set ranging from “insufficient confirmation of the origin and final destination of the products,” to “insufficient supervision of the auditing system.”

In the edition of December 24, 2005, it was reported that the regular meeting of the Popular Power National Assembly, Pedro Ross, then Secretary General of the CTC [Cuban Workers Union], “Commented and said that there are employees who are responding, but others do not and continue to justify the thefts and other misconduct.”

On February 16, 2007, in Cannibals in the Towers, it addressed the theft of the pylons that support the transmission of high voltage electricity and acknowledged that “technical, administrative and legal methods implemented to date have not slowed the banditry,” while on October 26, 2010, in the Price of Indolence, it was reported that in the municipality of Corralillo, in Villa Clara, over 300 homes were built with stolen materials and resources, for which they dismantled 25 kilometers of railway lines and used 59 of the aforementioned pylons from the high tension towers.

From official information, alternative media and rumors that circulate, a list can be compiled of companies and state agencies and senior officials involved in corruption cases between 2010 and 1011. Among them, the Sugar Industry, Basic Industry, Food Industry, Tourism, Aeronautics and Air transport, Internal Trade, Tobacco Industry, Biotechnology and Pharmaceuticals, Sports, and Information Technology and Telecommunications. Many of these cases involved officials and members of the Communist Party.

In an interview of the political scientist Esteben Morales conducted by journalist Patricia Grogg, he characterized “corruption as an extraordinary danger” for its “corrosive power”, which makes it a matter of “national security.” That is, despite as army of inspectors and inspectors of the inspectors, of the hundreds of workers and officials convicted of bribery, diversion, theft and robbery, and the laws and resolutions, corruption continued on its march.

In an interview published in Juventud Rebelde on the 19th and 26th of February, 2012, Gladys Bejerano, Comptroller of the Republic, stated: I”n our experience, the causes of corruption range from the fact that there was no control of contracts, because those who should have done it did not, and those who had to review it did not review it, and if they did review it they did not do so in any depth.

It is known that the contracts and their reviews are an important mechanism for efficiency, but that aspect does not exhaust the causes of corruption. If this evil in the time before 1959 remained essentially in the political-administrative,realm, one must ask what factors caused its generalization. From my point of view, what is new is in the disappearance of thousands of homeowners who watched over their property and the replacement of this ownership by the Boss [Fidel Castro] with the concept of ownership by all the people, which combined with inadequate wages, led to theft, bribery and other negative manifestations.

Elsewhere in the interview the Comptroller said: If, for the Revolution, it is a matter of life or death to fight corruption, to protect state resources and also to work for greater efficiency, if that is so, and who made the Revolution? The people, because it is the people who have to struggle for it and the people who have to defend it.

The fact is that if the people made the Revolution it was not to be deprived of their property or to be paid a wage that is unable to meet basic needs, which explains that the same people had to adopt the morality of the survivor to survive, or escape to other places on the planet.

If to change everything all that is needed is to try, then there is no other way than to take the path of rights and freedoms for Cubans, like any other people, and to earn a salary that corresponds to the cost of living, to be able to participate in the economy of their country, not just as workers but also as owners and investors, so that in reality many Cubans, along with the State, will watch over their own property and not “the property of the whole people.” Without this, corruption will continue along an unstoppable path.

Published April 2, 2012 in Diario de Cuba.

April 13 2012