White-collar thieves among the legal profession / Miguel Iturría Savón

The taxes and hard currency in the system of international legal consulting and special notaries — for foreigners — enabled in every Cuban province by the Ministry of Justice, does not appear in the Yearbook of the National Statistics Office, but must be one of the most profitable sources for the state bureaucracy, whose avidity for raising dollars, euros and other strong currencies does not correspond to the paperwork delays, lack of water, air conditioning and the solemnity of the officials who deal with those who come to these places.

Perhaps the only kindness of these offices is the information brochure given to visitors at the headquarters of the International Legal Department located at number 314 16th Street between 3rd and 5th, Miramar, Havana, which lists the services they provide, the cost of the documents legalized and the addresses of branches in the rest of the country, including Nueva Gerona on the Isle of Youth.

The branch of the Legal Havana International is located on 22 Street, number 108 between 3rd and 1st, Miramar; while the Office of Notary Services is on 5th Avenue no. 405, between 4 and 6, Miramar, where the ceremonies are performed for nuptials between Cubans and foreign citizens.

There is also the International Consulting on 24th between 19 and 21, Vedado, empowered to legalize notarized documents or to register with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, essential for those who seek to formalize other citizenships and foreign travel.

According to the leaflet, the International Legal Counsel is “a law firm that stands for integrity, professional competence and experience gained over more than twenty five years of work.” It provides “legal services to individuals and companies, domestic and foreign, based in Cuba and abroad.” The advice and assistance includes “civil law matters, family, property, administrative, labor, criminal, economic, commercial, financial, tax, maritime trade, foreign investment and intellectual property.”

As in Cuba, corporations, joint ventures, representative offices and travel agents are businesses exclusive to the state, citizens of the island who come to these offices perceived them as a place to be divested of their money in order to process the collation and legalization of documents, the formalization of marriage to a foreigner, immigration documents such as temporary travel permits, permits to reside outside the country, or to leave the country permanently, valued at $ 200 each, which adds to the prior cost of the passport at $55, or its renewal at$30.

Those who marry foreigners must pay the attorney fee of $525 USD, plus 100 for probate, 75 for handling and 10 for seals in local currency. By giving the first firm the foreign contract it will show the notary the legalization of its documents at the Cuban consulate in your country, which cost 500 euros or dollars, depending on the location. If you want to celebrate the marriage you must empty your wallet of hard currency and offer it up.

The international consultants work with Immigration and Nationality and with other institutions to get the certified documents for travel to Cuba (150.00 USD), the certification of criminal records, birth, marriage and death, Acts of last will and proof of degrees and titles, notes and thematic plan, which costs between 100 and 350 dollars each.

For people from other latitudes the costs listed are due to the logic of the tax revenues of any nation, but for Cubans they are abusive, because the offices are a monopoly and they price legal services on the island in hard currency, though they pay our salaries in national pesos, which are valued at 25 for one dollar.

September 22 2011