If you consider capitalism a crime, then any commercial transaction is corrupt. This is the situation in Cuba. If you sell your house in Havana and make a profit, you have committed a crime and are punishable by law. Now, this particular crime is not easy to commit in Cuba, for all real property is registered and each property transfer requires a government permit. If you try to circumvent this by quoting an official price in the transfer petition whilst clandestinely charging a higher price, you have committed an act of corruption according to Cuban standards.
Now, before you scream: ‘Repression! Dictatorship!’, think first. In our system many people do the same thing when transferring real property. They quote an official price and on the side they clandestinely receive a higher price. They do this to avoid transfer tax. This is considered corrupt in our country as well. And tax dodging is also punishable by law. The difference with Cuba is that our government turns a blind eye or would not punish harshly, whereas in Cuba control is much tighter and sentences much harsher. Before you know it, you spend 10 years in jail.
Then there is the secret police at every street corner. There is great fear among the Cuban people, for you never know who is an undercover agent. So the Cubans don’t easily sell their house at a clandestine price higher than the quoted one. The only way an un-free society can be maintained is by severe repression, secret police and even thought police. All this is part of Cuban society. If you ask the wrong questions, people avoid you like a leper. If you want to be a dissident in Cuba, you choose a life of loneliness, even though most Cubans agree with you.
However, severe scarcity in Cuba drives people into many forms of ‘Cuban corruption’ anyhow. How is this possible? Well, people are resourceful. For instance, it is forbidden to hire a car with chauffeur, unless it is a properly licensed taxi. Therefore, any non-taxi car-owner accepting money for transportation of persons, commits a crime. But he is allowed to transport a friend. So, if you hire a private car, the first thing the driver will tell you is: ‘My name is Pedro. I live there and there. We are old friends. If anybody asks questions, remember my name. Now, because you are my friend, I’ll take you where you want to go. I never charged you 5 CUC. As an old time friend you volunteered to give me something’.
This kind of ‘Cuban corruption’ takes place everywhere and all the time. And the government does not tire of telling the people that corruption is the main obstacle to realizing the Revolution. Beggars are not allowed to beg, for in Cuba there is no poverty for socialism provides for everybody. Consequently begging is ‘corrupt’. So people say nothing, but quietly watch you put food into your mouth. And when you ask: ‘Mi amigo, you want a sandwich?’, he’ll answer : ‘Ai Señor!’. And he’ll eat with relish. Our friend Fidel screwed up badly!
Amnesty for ‘corrupt Cubans’
So, how would you effect change? The Cuban opposition knows that after transition all political prisoners should receive full amnesty. The problem is to find a convincing and precise criterion to determine who are ‘political prisoners’. Of course, some cases are clear. Anybody locked up for a ‘thought crime’, or for having spoken out against the regime, should be set free immediately. But how about people doing time for ‘Cuban corruption’?
The Cuban opposition is very aware of this problem. In our Daily Connect of 1 February 2008 we referred to it from a different angle without offering a clear solution. We still have no answer, but by stating the problem the solution will come. More time is needed, however. Anybody who can shed light on this, please contact us as soon as possible.
The selected video sheds some light on the Cuban situation. It contains some ‘counter-propaganda’ of its own. Nevertheless, it does expose the endemic injustice - of a different and sometimes peculiar kind -inherent in Cuban society. The capitalists always forget there is endemic injustice in their society too. In the Dominican Republic people beg openly. In great numbers. If only the R.D. had Cuba’s health care and educational system!
The truth is both capitalism and socialism produce blatantly undesirable results. There is, however, a Third Way of Justice and Realism which combines the successful elements of both systems, whilst rejecting the unsuccessful ones. It is called ‘economic democracy’. It is the Peace Paradigm. It s one of this blog’s aims to explain this wonderful third way.