Green Collar Crimes / Yoani Sánchez

He was working for a new kind of corporation, one of those occupying a luxurious mansion in the Miramar neighborhood and importing goods from abroad. To find such a job it was enough to appeal to the influence of his father, a lieutenant colonel, the pull of the family tree. He belongs to a new generation of ideology-free entrepreneurs, but to keep his job he shouts a slogan every now and then, faking loyalty to some leader. This crafty “New Man” seeks out the cheapest, lowest quality goods on the international market and passes them off as the choices of his bosses who assigned him to be a buyer. From the difference, thousands and thousands of dollars go into his pocket every year. Like him, a whole litter of money-grubbing cubs defraud Cuban enterprises, arming themselves financially for the changes to come.

The latest episode of moral corruption in the business sector is related to the highly publicized fiber optic cable connecting us to Venezuela. Announced since 2008, it only reached our shores in February of this year, under the anxious eyes of 11 million citizens who dream of connecting, en masse, to the Internet. After several postponements, July was set as the date for it to start working. Between rumors on the street, dispatches from foreign agencies, and the testimony of workers for the only telephone company allowed in the country, we have learned that the cable is a disaster. A bad choice in the material from which it is made, the lack of the correct covering to prevent it from being chewed by the sharks that abound in Caribbean waters, and even the theft of funds meant for its activation, seem to have disabled its implementation until further notice.

But beyond the almost comical details of the non-working cable, our attention is called to the high level in the political hierarchy of those involved in this new corruption scandal. They are not second-tier officials, but strait-laced Party servants previously entrusted with lofty responsibilities. How did these faithful employees of ministries, joint-venture firms, and foreign companies become “green-collar” criminals? Red-card-carrying thieves? Perhaps it was their opportunistic-fueled noses that made them believe the future was ever closer and if they met the changes with an economic foundation they could become tomorrow’s entrepreneurs. For each one that has been discovered, there are dozens who continue “fishing” in the shadows, shouting slogans, swearing allegiance to a leader, and who, when they are alone, calculate the number of digits already in their personal fortunes, the size of the pile they have been able to extract from a State that trusted them.

An expanded version of this text was published in the Peruvian newspaper, El Comercio.

21 September 2011