With his La Plaga articles[regarding corruption in Cuba: Part 1 here; part 2 here], the BBC journalist Fernando Ravsberg has passed his finger over a festering sore that afflicts our country: corruption, a phenomenon in which political pedigree supports the entitlement to important positions, and where technical knowledge is set aside in search of personal dividends. Ravsberg supposed that the politicians underestimate the bureaucracy; I would dare to say they do not underestimate it, they simply can’t act against it; in fact many of the politicians find themselves (as they have found previously, keeping in mind the Communist Party Secretary in the City of Havana just five years ago) within the same dynamic that echoes the slogan of a chain of hard currency stores: Mine first.
This is spoken of in whispers and speculations, because despite the transparency of information asked for in speeches from the podium, information in our country is parceled out and no one dares to publish hot content without previous consultation and authorization.
Ravsberg points to the multimillion appropriations of a small group, which is always worthless; but there is another small and more constant drip, and this what the workers in any State enterprise can carry away. Some take reams of paper, staples, or typewriter ribbon; another gasoline, another a sack of cement, another workboots, another food. And so by misappropriation they meet what their salary does not cover.
For the government there is also a very high political cost because the population identifies them with the Revolution, quite logical given their positions, their militant communism, and their discourse, generally ultraleftist. Of course people have to identify the Government with such events, as the positions and militancy are definitely not by acclamation. With regards to the discourse, it is that of all the functionaries who hold a public office and who must, at every opportunity, make a profession of faith, because their positions depend on ideological firmness, and on this everything depends (in a literal sense).
Of course the white collar thieves steal. They steal from me. They steal from us. But no one hears about it, and if they hear bad things, the bad that they hear never identifies the theft in themes as distant as renting out an airplane, of the submarine fiber optic cable with its own problems. We will walk the best path when the day comes when citizens can question the use of their taxes and the budget decisions of the government. In our country everything is due to the Work of the Revolution, this almost divine entelechy that has bitten the tail, because also, for a long time and with ever greater frequency they have pointed to the people as responsible for our ills, one of them, this one of corruption, concerns us.
I find in Ravsberg work a biased thesis. If I don’t misunderstand, better the devil you know? From this blog, and almost from the start of it, I have expressed my rejection and alarm faced with a possible future like that of Russia. Even though our youth has grown up barely anchored to ethical principles, I refuse to believe the choice is between catatonic immobility and the mafia. After such emphasis in political slogans on the moral of survival, there could also be a positive reaction to universal values like work and honesty. I can’t condemn the future because it doesn’t exist, but I can make the present and the past serve for its rational design.
A glance at history shows that corruption flourishes in closed and dictatorial regimes, where probity is set aside in favor of unconditionality. In this fight against corruption, it cannot be the wolf who watches over the sheep.
September 22 2011