“El periódico ha de estar siempre como los correos antiguos, con el caballo enjaezado, la fusta en la mano y la espuela en el tacón.  Debe desobedecer los apetitos del bien personal y atender imparcialmente al bien público”.
José Martí
 

For Cuba to Fight Corruption, Transparency is the First Step

La transparencia, primer paso contra la corrupción. Foto: Raquel Pérez Díaz

Photo: Raquel Pérez Díaz

“You cannot run a country today without transparency; without having a strategy for long-term development, with clear legal rules for all economic players,” said the minister of the economy, Marino Murillo.

Almost in unison the government announced that state businesses to be turned over to private hands must now be tendered, which implies that the offer is public, that all citizens have the right to participate and ultimately the best of the proposals is accepted.

“Applicants must deliver their offers in sealed envelopes and include their personal information, the possible activity to be performed, and certification or endorsement of experience in the business; in addition to their financial plan and project design among other things.”

Making these procedures transparent would leave less space for the corrupt to enter into the business of awarding locales to whoever gives them the highest payoff. It’s not that this is a full-proof remedy but creating some difficulties for criminals is a good start.

Experts believe that transparency is the first step in the fight against corruption. Then you have to take other steps because opacity and secrecy are the best breeding ground for the development of this global virus.

Contralora Gladys Bejerano. Foto: Raquel Pérez Díaz

The comptroller, Gladys Bejerano, complains about the recycling of corrupt management, due to the lack of transparency. Photo: Raquel Pérez Díaz

Cuba’s comptroller’s office has spent years fighting corruption but as soon as it cleans up one place the virus mutates and reappears in another. The lack of transparency in the hiring of management allows the dismissed corrupt to appear months later heading another company.

The comptroller herself, Gladys Bejerano, has complained about the recycling of corrupt officials. To avoid this it would be very useful to require a public profile for management personnel that reflect their performance in each previous position and the reasons why they were removed.

I remember that some time ago, bloggers of the La Joven Cuba website proposed that leaders and officials should make a declaration of assets on taking on a position and another when they leave, to check how honorably they worked.

Meanwhile, the path of transparency for Cuba is much more complex because of the fierce persecution their economy and finances are subjected to by the world’s greatest power. For over half a century anything said can be used against you.

Many companies trading with Cuba received threats from Washington, some investors were barred from entering the US and banks were fined billions of dollars. Secrecy was essential for Cuba and for foreign partners.

The economic war is not over but softened and it shows with the arrival on the island of hundreds of companies from all over the world seeking to do business, many of which did not dare before December 17, 2014, when the US-Cuba rapprochement began.

The secrecy and opacity were defensive weapons of the Cuban government in its struggle for survival but also the rug under which the corrupt and inefficient hide their dirt. That’s why the economic battle is lost in advance if transparency is not a requirement of management.

Most directors, managers and officials are members of the Communist Party, the “organized vanguard of the Cuban nation,” according to the constitution. Accountability over their public actions and personal assets would be the best source of prestige.

Being a member of the “vanguard” has advantages and disadvantages. They are the ones who set the course and pace of progress but are also required to be an example, taking the first step and then advancing in whatever direction is taken.

Con más transparencia tal vez hubieran menos directivos presos. Foto: Raquel Pérez Díaz

With more transparency perhaps there would be fewer managers in prison. Photo: Raquel Pérez Díaz

Translation: Havana Times

About Fernando Ravsberg

Nacido en Uruguay, corresponsal de Público en Cuba y profesor del post grado de “Información internacional y países del Sur” de la Universidad Complutense de Madrid. Fue periodista de BBC Mundo, Telemundo de EEUU, Radio Nacional de Suecia y TV Azteca de México. Autor de 3 libros, El Rompecabezas Cubano, Reportajes de Guerra y Retratos.

 
 

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