Murmurs / Rebeca Monzo

For some months now, they have spread like gun powder throughout the city: rumors about embezzlement, theft, deviation of resources, practices of nepotism, etcetera.

Old Havana has generated the most commentaries these days. The director of Puerto Carenas, the great construction enterprise dealing with the restoration of all the real estate in the historic center and some other buildings and monuments outside this area, is presently being investigated, according to commentary, for crimes against the economy of the State.

In other news, the La Muralla brewery, the recently appointed administrator is being detained under investigation after having had a field planted with marijuana confiscated, in the providence of Pinar del Rio. This caused the spread of the investigation to encompass the business he was administrating up to this time, situated at Muralla and San Ignacio, where other crimes on his behalf were discovered in which some of his workers were implicated, the latter of whom are also subject to investigation. Some are being detained and others are in waiting under house arrest (what we Cubans like to call “the pajama plan” — though only when it is the ’cushy’ version that is applied to high officials).

The Planetarium at the Plaza Vieja (Old Plaza) has also been investigated, due to police reports that these facilities were being offered for functions outside operating hours and administrative control, and whose dividends were ending up directly in the pockets of those implicated. There also exist strong rumors of nepotism practices on behalf of the directorship of Habaguanex. This not taking into account existing rumors as to the sale of job positions within these entities, which oscillate between $1,000 CUC and $1,500 CUC, depending on the type of job.

These rumors give much food for thought. Might it truly be as is being rumored? If so, how is it possible this has not reached the ears of the primary directors of said enterprises, when it is already public knowledge?

But sadly, this is not the only place where such criminal activity occurs. Recently on national television they showed images demonstrating the goods that were illicitly acquired by the administrator of the jam factory in the province of Matanzas; he was dismissed upon proof of illicit enrichment and deviation of resources. The president of the Havana Yoruba Society (Sociedad Yoruba de la Habana) also fell into disgrace, as we say here, for utilizing the influences inherent to his post, in order to secure trips and visas at a price of $3,000 CUC, for those privileged who were able to pay.

Apparently crime and corruption are spreading like a pandemic. It is truly very sad, even more so when, for more than 50 years, we have been hearing talk of the New Man, of revolutionary honor, of our militant Gentlemen, here on my planet, in order to occupy the post of director or administrator of an entity, you at least have to be a militant of the party and, in some cases, a member of State security.

These are the effects, those which regularly come under fire, but what of the causes? What truly are they?

A totalitarian State that monopolizes the administration of all large businesses, that pays miserable salaries, that maintains a dual currency: one with which you are paid for your work and retirement and another, that you need to acquire however you can, and with which one acquires at very high prices, all the articles of primary necessity; do you sincerely believe it can take the luxury of having, in those high positions of directorship, honest and incorruptible men? Who taught them to steal?

Everything here exposed are confidentialities and rumors that have reached me, and that have filtered drop by drop. I don’t have all of the information, that here is almost impossible, but I recall an old saying: “Cuando el río suena, es porque piedras trae.” (Literally: “When the river sounds, it’s because it’s carrying rocks.” Loosely translated: “If you hear rumors, there must be some truth to them.”)

Translated by: Maria Montoto

May 29 2012