HAVANA TIMES — The Cuban Interior Ministry (MININT) has under surveillance attempts by Cubans living abroad and foreign citizens who are introducing illicit funds in the country to invest in the private sector, in goods and property.
During a speech Tuesday at the National Defense Commission of the National Assembly of People’s Power (parliament), Colonel Idael Fumero Valdes, head of the Department of Information and Analysis of the Investigative Technical Police at the Interior Ministry, addressed the issue of illicit cash inflows as part of the illegalities facing the country from abroad. Fumero was part of the delegation of senior officers of the Interior Ministry who visited a US Naval Air Station in Key West, Florida, on April 21.
“Among the main illegalities which the country faces is the persistent interest of emigrants and foreigners to introduce illicit funds to invest in the private sector and in real estate, which is known as money laundering,” said Fumero in a report by Cubadebate.
The Interior Ministry official made an assessment of the implementation of measures aimed at increasing prevention and confronting demonstrations of social indiscipline, illegalities and crime in the country.
Investments in the peephole
Cuban immigrants, mostly from Miami, have invested in private businesses and homes acquired by residents of the island. Transactions in some cases have involved people who have acquired the money in the US by fraud and scams involving heath care, auto insurance and credit cards.
Likewise, Fumero said that throughout the national territory the MININT continues in a combined effort to stop attempts to introduce and produce drugs, which experienced an increase of crops in Matanzas, Mayabeque and Ciego de Avila provinces during 2015.
According to data from the Anti-Drug office of the Interior Ministry, last year it seized 905 kilograms of drugs, 72% of all narcotics confiscated in Cuba. 59 drug trafficking operations in the country were also frustrated, with 63 detainees, 30 of them foreigners of 10 nationalities.
A total 578 cases of domestic drug trafficking were reported, with 686 detainees and 81.92 kilograms seized.
Human smuggling networks
Fumero also mentioned that stimulated by the Cuban Adjustment Act, networks of traffickers operate for people wanting leave the country. He noted that these networks are directed and financed from abroad, and have rearranged their modus operandi with new routes in South America.
He further warned about the existence of a black market or underground which has become “a space for marketing a wide range of goods and services, products that often come from crime and theft”.
Fumero also drew attention to the proliferation of various forms of prohibited games such as car racing, illegal dog fights and cockfights.
During the meeting at the National Defense Commission, Comptroller Gladys Bejerano said the indiscipline and manifestations of corruption persist in the country, with significant damage to the Cuban economy and society.
“The crimes that occur in [State] businesses show that the actions taken to reduce them have yet to have the desired effect, because some management continues in an environment of chaos and impunity,” said Bejerano.
Big time embezzlement
Bejerano revealed that during 2015 more than 132 million pesos (6.6 million USD) were documented mainly in the theft of goods for illicit sale. The embezzlements occurred mostly in the Ministry of Agriculture (MINAG), Ministry of Internal Trade (MINCIN) and the Council of the Provincial Administration of Havana.
The most common stolen items are information technology, fuel, construction materials, parts and tires. Bejerano said the largest amount of theft was detected in Havana.
“The main cause of these manifestations is the lack of controls, a breeding ground for encouraging people to commit corruption,” insisted Bejerano, also one of six vice presidents of the Council of State.
Bejerano expressed concern over the “excessive delay” in reporting the facts of detected administrative corruption. Of those analyzed in 2015, 58 percent were reported on after six months, while 13 percent after a year elapsed.