Chicken, corruption and crisis in Cuba

Chicken, corruption and crisis in Cuba

HAVANA, February 13. The theft of 133 tons of chicken for subsidized sale from inside a Cuban state company has generated a great citizen stupor,a strong judicial response and the call of the regime and the Communist Party to use a “strong hand” against crime.

The balance, according to the official version, is overwhelming: an illegal benefit estimated at 1.35 million dollars, 8,500 stolen 15-kilogram boxes of chicken, dismissals, dismissals, eight home searches, and at least 30 detainees, who could face up to 20 years in prison.

The theft of chicken – the main source of protein in Cuba – occurs amid a serious economic crisis on the island, where frequent blackouts and rampant inflation are compounded by shortages of basic products, including fuel, medicines and food.

The plot, according to state television, was uncovered after the last of about five thefts – about 26 tons of chicken in 1,660 boxes – on a date that the state news agency did not specify, but which revealed a complex “modus operandi” and many involved.

According to this reconstruction of the events, the perpetrators entered the Havana facilities of the state company Copmar, dependent on the Ministry of Food Industries, at dawn and took away hundreds of boxes of frozen chicken with a truck.

The criminals had the support of company personnel, who gave them access, and then they had developed a system to clone the metal seals on the cold room doors so that the theft was not obvious.

However, Cuban television recognized control failures at different levels because the total stolen is equivalent, according to official estimates, to the amount of chicken that the state sells at subsidized prices for a month in a “medium-sized province.”

The authorities indicated that each box was resold for 3,800 Cuban pesos (158 dollars at the official exchange rate, but only 12.5 dollars at the informal exchange rate), when the average salary is 4,200 pesos. On the black market, this product can reach much higher prices.

Theft and corruption

Among the 30 defendants – 11 in provisional prison – there are “shift leaders, technologists, custodians (guardians)” and also people not linked to Copmar, according to state media.