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Guavas, coconuts and corruption, oh my!

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A June 2012 editorial on Granma's (the Cuban Communist Party's official newspaper) website proclaims in bold letters: "Cuba determined to perfect struggle against corruption." A subsequent article published in November reads: "The phenomenon of corruption requires an organized response." The author then proceeds to quote a speech by Cuba's attorney general DarÃo Delgado Cura on the subject of corruption in the island. The speech opens with the following paragraph:

"Reflecting on the phenomenon of corruption in Cuba is not only an academic exercise, but also an important and urgent responsibility, given the clear consequences it generates in the moral, economic and social order and the possibility of its development in any kind of society. We are doing so at a particularly relevant time, immersed in the updating of Cuba's economic model, with the goal of ensuring the continuity and irreversibility of socialism."

It continues with several paragraphs of telling rhetoric, such as:

"Corruption is a phenomenon with many causes in which individual behavior, motivated by moral, ethical, economic and political factors, is combined with a lack of supervision, permissiveness and the violation of established legal norms."

It ends with:

"THE CORRUPTION WE FACE IN OUR COUNTRY IS ADMINISTRATIVE ... In our country, the corruption we face is administrative and has been identified at certain levels within several sectors, principally within enterprises."

Delgado Cura goes on to detail the Cuban government's current associations with foreign corporations, the different forms of corruption and crimes that riddle the system and the required punishment for them, and other problems endemic to the system. The entire speech can be found here .

Although it was probably not their intent, Granma subsequently published two letters written by Cuban citizens illustrating and summarizing the endemic corruption and mismanagement prevalent in the regime, as described by the attorney general in his speech.

The first letter was titled "Guayabas a la deriva" (Guavas on the loose) and reads:

"For the past 4 years, I've had a contract with the preserves and vegetables industry in the City of Sancti Spiritus. I provide them with guavas for making baby food. I do my job gladly, as I am conscious of how important it is for the country to substitute imports (a ton of guava pulp costs about $2,000 USD in the foreign market, not including shipping and operating costs).

However, the events I experienced with my production contradict the indications of the supreme direction of the Revolution which call for maximizing the production of fruits in order to save resources and minimize the import of those products that can be produced on our own soil.

Our contract this year (2012) called for the delivery of 80 tons of guava to Acopio - before October 8th. We fulfilled our quota before that date and, given the great production potential of our co-op, Acopio renewed our contract for an additional 20 tons of fruit.

We encountered our first problem on Thursday, October 11th when we arrived at the Acopio collection center in the town of Meneses with 235 cases of guavas and we were told they would not be accepted because the industry had fulfilled its quota for the year.

After many inquiries to Acopio and the Farmers Delegation in the Yaguajay municipality, we were unable to resolve the problem. Thus, we were forced to throw away 235 cases of guavas. The product never arrived at its destination and we wasted our investment of time, labor and resources.

After the above incident took place, we were contacted by the Acopio office in the Yaguajay municipality with instructions to continue harvesting the guavas as -- we were told - they had resolved their problems with the industry requirements.

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