13 Corruption Cases Erupt in Sancti Spíritus: Campismo, People's Power, and Tourism Under Scrutiny

Tuesday, May 14, 2024 by Samantha Mendoza

13 Corruption Cases Erupt in Sancti Spíritus: Campismo, People's Power, and Tourism Under Scrutiny
Empresa Campis Sancti Spíritus / Facebook - Imagen de © Reunión de dirigentes de la Empresa Provincial de Campismo

The General Comptroller of the Republic, the Prosecutor's Office, and the Ministry of the Interior have uncovered 13 cases of corruption in Sancti Spíritus over the past year. This figure aligns with the annual average of scandals in the area (15), according to Jesús Gerardo Martín Casanova, the provincial chief comptroller.

However, the official press reported a total of seven cases in 2022: four in gastronomy, two in Education, and one in Community Services, with an economic impact of 700,000 Cuban pesos, of which only about 55% was recovered. Most of the crimes were concentrated in the main municipality of Sancti Spíritus (6), involving Community Services, the grocery store El Polaquito, the Ideal La Casiguaya market, Casa Félix warehouse, 23 de Diciembre Secondary School, and Ernesto Guevara Polytechnic. In 2021, another 10 cases were detected.

If these are the real numbers, we wouldn't be looking at an average figure (13 cases) for the province but rather double the cases from one year to the next. In 2023, there was a "major" embezzlement in the Provincial Campismo Company. Anti-corruption operations were also conducted in local People's Power offices, the Ministry of Tourism, and the commerce and gastronomy sector, which has seen the most interventions over the years. None of these incidents involved top-level leaders, according to the Comptroller, who nonetheless holds management responsible for "failing to act and supervise."

This situation, the oversight body adds, arises because "the auditing system in Sancti Spíritus is broken." Martín Casanova admits they are working with less than half the auditors they need. Additionally, a portion of the available staff lacks proper training.

Corruption has taken root in Cuba, and the General Comptroller's Office acknowledges this. "This is not just a problem in Sancti Spíritus but a nationwide issue because the trend is for corruption cases to occur in various sectors," said Martín Casanova, attributing these "criminal acts" to "the lack of control by officials and the absence of oversight from higher authorities."

He also blames "current inflation and economic shortages," which "drive unscrupulous individuals to profit from public resources, not only benefiting themselves but also others," added the comptroller in an interview published in the local newspaper Escambray.

The facts are so evident that Martín Casanova claims that if there's corruption, it is always detected. To curb it, the comptroller believes that companies need to be audited every six months. "State enterprises should undergo an audit every 180 days, but the shortage of auditors prevents this rotation. Some incidents have been detected through entities' internal control systems, but these are few," he emphasized.

Once corruption is detected, companies must demonstrate how they will eliminate the causes that led to the embezzlement "and the conditions that made it possible." Additionally, administrators must attend state control commissions to follow up on criminal cases; they must propose solutions and present a revised prevention plan.

The Campismo Embezzlement

In April of this year, a 26-year-old accountant from Trinidad was sentenced by the Provincial Court of Sancti Spíritus to 18 years in prison for stealing a large sum of money from the Popular Campismo Company in that area. The embezzlement amounted to 7.9 million Cuban pesos and was detected through continuous money movements between the entity's accounts.

Oscar Ramón Rodríguez Socarrás, Director of Inspection and Internal Control of the Popular Campismo Business Group, indicated during the trial that the accused edited the company's account statements using a PDF to Word converter after making transactions to his accounts, thus deleting transfers to his magnetic card.

Additionally, five Campismo workers were administratively fined, including the general director, deputy director, accounting and finance director, human resources head, and a specialist in the latter area, for failing to safeguard the entity's assets, which allowed the convicted individual to embezzle the company.

Understanding Corruption in Sancti Spíritus

Given the recent uncovering of various corruption cases in Sancti Spíritus, it is essential to address some frequently asked questions to better understand the issue.

What sectors were most affected by corruption in Sancti Spíritus?

The most affected sectors were gastronomy, education, community services, and the tourism industry.

What measures are being taken to combat corruption?

The General Comptroller's Office suggests conducting audits every six months and improving internal control systems within entities.

Why is the auditing system in Sancti Spíritus failing?

The auditing system is failing due to a shortage of qualified auditors and insufficient training among the available staff.

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