The theft of 133 tons of chicken for subsidized sale of the interior of a Cuban state company has generated great citizen stupor, a strong judicial response and the call of the Government and the Communist Party to use a “strong hand” against crime.
The balance, according to the official version, is overwhelming: an illicit benefit estimated at 1.35 million dollars8,500 15-kilogram boxes of chicken stolen, 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 – It occurs in the midst of a serious economic crisis on the islandwhere frequent blackouts and rampant inflation are compounded by shortages of basic products, including fuel, medicine 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 did not specify, but which revealed a complex “modus operandi” with many involved.
According to this reconstruction of the events, the perpetrators accessed the Havana facilities of the state company Copmar, dependent on the Ministry of Food Industries, at dawn, and With a truck they took away hundreds of boxes of frozen chicken.
The criminals had the support of company personnel, who gave them access, and then they had developed a system to clone metal seals of the cold room doors so that the theft would not be 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 province.”
The authorities indicated that each box It 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 accused -11 in provisional prison- there are “shift leaders, technologists, custodians (guardians)” and also people not linked to Copmar, according to state media.
Among the crimes contemplated by the prosecutor's office are “embezzlement, robbery, bribery, failure to comply with the duty to preserve the assets of economic entities and reception”, which is why acts of common crime, but also corruption, are being investigated.
A woman shows her supply book in Havana. Photo EFE
Marta María Gonzalez del Sol, prosecutor of the criminal proceedings department of Havana, assured state television that “a severe decision will be sought because the case warrants it”. He highlighted “the harmfulness”, the seriousness of “the damages”, “the historical moment” – in reference to the serious crisis – and “the affected product”, a staple of the Cuban diet.
There have already been political consequences: the official media reported the dismissal of the general director of Copmar and the “management” of the state business entity in which it is integrated, the Base Economic Unit (UEB) Havana.
Ten days ago, the Cuban Minister of Food Industries, Manuel Santiago Sobrino, was dismissed without revealing the reasons behind his departure, beyond speculation due to the collapse of agricultural production and its repercussions on the volume of subsidized products.
The newspaper Granmaofficial organ of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC, the only legal one), dedicated this Monday an editorial with a call on the cover to the fight against “crime” and “corruption” in which the reasons for its argument were not referred to, but facts similar to those of this robbery were reported.
“The leadership of the Revolution has reiterated the call to close ranks now act with a hard hand, with firmness, without warm cloths or blandengueryand in accordance with the Law, as has always been done against these criminal manifestations,” the text stressed.