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Stop, Thief!

Raúl Castro wants to leave a legacy of "fighting corruption" as a smokescreen concealing the Castros' thievery.

La Habana

A month after the self-scheduled deadline to hand the presidency over to one of his yes-men, the general/dictator has launched yet another campaign against corruption, purging some intermediate-level figures and others not authorized to benefit from the regime's pilferage.

Apparently, the general wants to step down leaving an illusory legacy of anti-corruption to generate a smokescreen masking the Castro's mischief, which goes beyond amassing great fortunes, and includes seeking personal glorification at the expense of an entire society. Also looming is another offensive against low-level private entrepreneurs, and a warning to the intermediate bureaucracy to curb its venality, along with plans to blame them for the shortage of food products and the poor production management results.

Back in Fidel's day there were several "anti-corruption" campaigns eliminating high-ranking figures, carried out to teach the bureaucracy a lesson while projecting a public image of the leader as austere, even as he concealed his embezzlement through the traditional secrecy surrounding his life, and depictions of his "good "actions taken for the welfare of the people, the development of the country, and its international enterprises against "imperialism."

But what is the source of so much corruption?

Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely, as Lord Acton pointed out. And it can be added that permanent power corrupts absolutely and permanently. One of the main roots of the corruption existing today is that absolute and permanent power that prevent the functioning of a healthy society based on fair and transparent laws.

Corruption is inversely proportional to democracy. The more economic and political power is real and well distributed, the fewer the opportunities there are for corruption.

A genuine fight against corruption?

There never existed a real fight against corruption in Castro's Cuba, but rather isolated campaigns targeting specific people or groups troublesome to those in power. These efforts avoided revealing the real, systemic causes of widespread corruption, intrinsic to Castroism's neo-Stalinist political/economic model, characterized by the centralization of political authority and economic means and, especially, by the exploitation of workers under conditions of semi-slavery, and the total centralization of wealth, which has turned Cuba into a private company belonging to the Castros, where positions and perks are distributed among regime partisans.

Everything corresponds more or less to a pharaoh-like system of "generalized slavery" as in ancient Mesopotamia, which Karl Marx called the Asian form of production, a social organization formula halfway between slavery and feudalism, and that Jose Martí clearly described in his essay La futura esclavitud (The Coming Slavery), in his analysis of the work of the same name by Herbert Spencer.

Each, from his perspective, explained that under this system the existence of a caste of bureaucrats would function as an appointed bourgeoisie, in charge of exploiting the state-owned means of production with salaried workers, similar to capitalism.

Central power, under this model, however, is the only proprietor, and the bureaucrats in charge of overseeing production do not possess the property in question. Hence, they lack the sense of responsibility and ownership that an owner does, as he needs to protect his fortune and investment by means of production and work. This is why, as a general rule, the capitalist pays for the work force he hires, from which he expects a result, and which he needs to compensate in order to re-employ it.

What interest could motivate workers exploited as quasi-slaves, without labor rights or union freedoms, far removed from property, management and distribution?

Workers, by appropriating from the State, apply a law of natural justice: I take what I need because the bureaucracy does not pay me a fair wage. That law existed in Roman law, and it was called fair compensation. The intermediate-level bureaucrats who see the level of opulence enjoyed by the upper bureaucracy apply the same rule, depending on how close they are to the top.

The Castros, their main allies and spokespersons, would never acknowledge that the problem is a systemic one, inherent to a brand of totalitarianism that copied salaried stateism, sold as socialism, as this would mean recognizing their villainy.

The companies controlled by the military, which encompass most areas of the Cuban economy, especially that which works with foreign currencies, operate on the same system, with some additional incentives and perks, depending on their levels, but with the disadvantage for workers that these companies work under an "I’m in charge here” system, as its staff is subject to military law, and belongs to the "civilian workers of the FAR" (Revolutionary Armed Forces) union.

The serious problem of corruption in the economic system of the FAR are not revealed or published. The Comptroller General of the Republic does not have access to its accounts, crimes are punished under military law, and buried in military secrecy.

Running the numbers

Like the story of the robber who flees from the scene of the crime shouting "Stop, thief!", the current campaign against corruption has as its main objective to divert attention from the Castros' colossal corruption, which first illegally appropriated all the country's major pieces of land, seizing them from Cubans and foreigners alike, and then, for almost 60 years, has survived by exploiting all Cuban workers, whether in the country or abroad, as semi-slaves.

If we figure that, for at least 50 years, the State has withheld $100 per month from an average of four million workers, this yields the sum of 240 billion dollars stolen from State employees, in addition to the surplus value derived from their exploitation.

It has also indirectly exploited their relatives abroad, through remittances, taxes on products sent to Cuba, consular procedures, and their travels and accompanying fees, which, together with medicines, according to different calculations, may add up to some 10 billion dollars in recent years.

All this, plus the subsidies from the USSR, and then from Venezuela, have been the main sources of resources squandered by the bureaucracy, of which it used a small part to maintain the country's flagging health and public education systems, propaganda instruments of a dictatorship that has amputated all the Cuban people's civil, political and economic rights.

This new anti-corruption offensive is yet another example of Castroism's general rot, in its final stage.

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