Cuban Doctor’s Open Letter to Raúl Castro

EspañolBy Jeovany Jiménez Vega

Raúl Castro Ruz
President of the State Councils and Ministries of the Republic of Cuba
First Secretary of the Cuban Communist Party

Mr. President:

Sadly, Customs Resolutions 206 and 207 of 2014 have gone into effect, and the Cuban government will now further limit the importation of non-commercial merchandise.

These measures are certainly among the most unfair and unreasonable actions of your time in office.

Under the pretext of confronting the black-market — whose origin is wrongly blamed on these benign imports — these regulations will only foment the ideal conditions for greater corruption within the Cuban customs office.

You pretend to alleviate the symptoms without addressing the root and genesis of the disease. These measures will never stop black markets from developing for one simple reason: they are not directed at the primary cause of the problem.

Perhaps instead you should look toward the meager variety and poor quality of products supplied domestically, and the untenable prices that are imposed without justification. Your government has shown a complete lack of political will to address the widespread chaos of the domestic economy, which generates and perpetuates constant shortages and the massive diversion of products to the black market.

The high rate of corruption that prevails in the police force and in the ranks of state inspectors should be confronted. Together, with the Tax Administration Office (ONAT), these are the only entities with the power to monitor the legality of street commerce and the activity of private workers — something that is obviously out of the Republic’s General Customs jurisdiction.

The Cuban government and the ruling party will undoubtedly pay a high political price for the imposition of these unfortunate measures, because the people feel they are unjust and arbitrary. In addition to restricting our imports, the measures force us to pay again in our airports up to 200 percent for something that we already paid for abroad, charging us CUC$20 (US$20) per kilogram for packages our families sacrificed to send us. These measures are unquestionably immoral, do not have comparison anywhere in the world, and can only be perceived as blatant theft and a true act of legalized extortion.

As a logical consequence, the corruption that reigns in the customs offices is so widespread and shameless, that even the blandest intellectual realizes that such theft would be impossible without the implication and/or complicity of multiple officials in the General Customs Office and Ministry of the Interior.

It is not difficult to find someone ready to be bribed. From the stewardess on the plane to the very last customs official, many will gladly “help” evade controls, for the right price. Once on the inspection tables, whoever pays his share of extortion will be granted passage without disturbance. It is a safe bet that no less than three-quarters of these officials are members of the Communist party and the Communist Youth.

With its substantial web of informants, the Investigation Department of the Ministry of Interior should, theoretically, not allow a single square centimeter to escape their line of sight, nor a corrupt person to brag about their impunity. However, the reality is there is not a trace of honesty within these institutions. Not a single day passes without new bribes and arbitrary plunder.

For some time now, unbelievable stories of fraud, varied forms of abuse, and tyrannical officials who trample over defenseless travelers have surfaced. These sinister interests will continue to inspire unrestrained extortion, thievery, and indignity.

You cannot ignore this issue, and its predictable, yet dangerous implications: if a corrupt official accepts a bribe for $200, would he not be tempted by an offer of $2,000 or more? Not only does this create a safe entry point for illicit drugs, but also a speedy exit for the Cuban nation’s most prestigious artifacts: from colonial museum pieces, to last century’s invaluable avant-garde paintings — which already number in the hundreds in private collections in Miami.

The moral rot that protects these channels, threatens all of society, and steals our patriotic treasure, is directly rooted in the ill-fated policies like the customs legislation recently approved by the Cuban government.

I propose to my government, instead of implementing policies of such questionable morality, formulate new ones that enhance the prosperity of my homeland — whose hopelessness and poverty is born from the black market. Repeal these treacherous customs measures that are profoundly damaging to human dignity and the rights of every Cuban. Initiate strategies to effectively confront corruption, rather than continue to use the same deceitful and underhanded tactics.

The Cuban nation and future generations will judge you based on the damage you have caused.

President: when the saga of detrimental actions that this government has taken against its own people is recounted, the policy that is currently being given new life will be inscribed in golden letters; I just hope this time no one dares to blame the Yankee embargo.

While the Cuban government acts as if it is extinguishing the flame of a match, it is actually stoking a raging fire that incites the most vile demons of man.

You, with unlimited power, are in charge of this government, but you do nothing to prevent this disaster. You will be described as a culpable party when the first line of the story of our moral massacre is written, because the massacre will occur with your full consent.

The Cuban nation and future generations judge you based on the damage you have caused.

Thank you for your attention,

Jeovany Jiménez Vega
Cuban physician

Cuba needs every Cuban to sign the petition against the government’s restrictions on imports.

Originally Published in Ciudadano Cero.

Translated by Alex Clark-Youngblood.

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