In anti-corruption purge, dozens of officials are detained

Long-time Interior Minister Abelardo Colomé Ibarra is said to be under house arrest
Colomé Ibarra
Colomé Ibarra

By Domingo Amuchastegui

In what seems to be a large anti-corruption sweep, more than 200 government officials of all levels have been arrested and are at a detention center in suburban Havana, according to several sources.

Others have already been sentenced and sent to prison.

The purge apparently includes at least two current or former cabinet ministers, who are under arrest for multiple acts of corruption.

No details have been officially announced yet. In a meeting with provincial assembly leaders on July 8, President Miguel Díaz-Canel and First Vice President Salvador Valdés Mesa talked about “some cases of corruption detected by fiscal and police operatives that show grave violations and indiscipline,” Communist Party daily Granma reported in a cryptic article. The cases have a “negative impact on the budget, and display working styles that are distanced from the base, from the areas where finances are managed, showing precisely where the dificulties are, and also the positive experiences”.

Different from an anti-corruption sweep in 2012-13, which implicated a half-dozen high-profile foreign business executives — resulting in long detentions, show trials, prison sentences and property confiscation — no foreigners seem to have been targeted this time.

The crackdown at the beginning of the Díaz-Canel administration comes three years after the resignation of Abelardo Colomé Ibarra, 80, who had been in charge of Cuba’s security apparatus as interior minister since 1989. In October 2015, authorities announced the resignation of the veteran of the revolution and confidante of Raúl Castro, commonly known as “Furry”, from all his jobs — including as vice president and member of the Politburo — citing health reasons. Raúl Castro accepted his resignation, and the Council of State gave Colomé an award. However, there have been no events honoring his long service to the country, and there has been no official word about Furry since then.

Closed: The ChaChaCha restaurant in Old Havana, owned by a son of Colomé Ibarra.
Closed: The ChaChaChá restaurant in Old Havana, owned by a son of Colomé Ibarra.

Now, one source close to the government said the former head of Cuba’s security apparatus is under house arrest, and accused of abuse of privileges and influence peddling, giving away dozens of homes as “gifts”, and funding private businesses run by his sons Josué and José Raúl. The latter is in charge of two restaurants in Vedado and Old Havana; both the Starbien and ChaChaChá have been closed by authorities. Josué moved to Miami by way of Mexico in 2014, allegedly with a considerable sum of money.


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