Dissidents in Cuba
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Report: 10 accused of corruption

Posted on Wednesday, 11.17.10
Report: 10 accused of corruption
Cuban dissidents reported a corruption scandal in the nickel industry.
BY JUAN O. TAMAYO
jtamayo@ElNuevoHerald.com

A corruption scandal in a Cuban nickel processing plant — one of the
island's key sources of income — has led to the detentions of at least
10 of its executives, according to two dissidents in Cuba.

The case involves the disappearance of vehicles and spare motors that
had been stockpiled for an expansion of the Pedro Soto Alba plant in the
city of Moa, the dissidents reported.

Some of the executives, they added, were also receiving extraordinarily
high salaries — $1,500 to $2,000 a month in a country where the
official average monthly wage stands at about $20.

There was no way to independently verify the reports by dissident
journalist Luis Felipe Rojas and Omar Wilson Estévez, a member of the
National Civic Resistance Movement Pedro Luis Boitel. Both live in Moa.

The Soto Alba plant is a joint venture by state-owned Cubaniquel and
Canada-based Sherritt International. El Nuevo Herald calls to Sherritt
headquarters in Toronto were not returned as of Tuesday evening.

But the dissidents' reports follow the recent dismissal of Basic
Industry Minister Yadira Garcia, who supervised the nickel sector, and
Havana residents said rumors of the scandal have been around for days.

A government announcement in September said García was replaced for a
“shortage of leadership, reflected specially in the weak control over
resources destined for the capital investment and production process.''

Cuba has been rocked by several scandals this year, including one
involving the state airline, Cubana de Aviación, and alleged
off-the-books flights whose profits were pocketed by officials.

The Berlin-based Transparency International, which monitors corruption
around the world, ranked Cuba in 69th place in its annual report this
year, eight places worse than in 2009.

Rojas and Wilson said they obtained their information from current and
former workers in the Soto Alba plant as well relatives and neighbors of
the executives detained. They did not identify their sources, fearing
reprisals.

http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/11/17/1929576/report-10-accused-of-corruption.html

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