As Cuba Opens Up, Castro Hits Corruption

Free market reforms require crackdown, say Cuba officials
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 20, 2011 2:35 PM CST
Raul Castro's free market reforms in Cuba appear to be targeting foreign businesses and businessmen
In this Aug. 1, 2009 file photo, President Raul Castro attends a session of the National Assembly of Popular Power, Cuba's Legislature, in Havana, Cuba.   (AP Photo/Javier Galeano)

Cuba is in the midst of one of its biggest anti-corruption crackdowns in years, with Raul Castro jailing foreigners and kicking out scores of small companies even as he institutes free market reforms. But many are wondering if the crackdown will cure or kill the patient, reports the AP. "It's like an earthquake," said one non-Cuban business consultant. "It is a time of opportunity, but also great risk because of what is happening: the arrests, the closures."

Many foreign business leaders say they are being targeted. There have been at least six corruption probes targeting foreign companies over the past two years, sending 52 foreigners to jail and expelling more than 150 business owners and operators. But even high-ranking Cubans have been swept up in the current crackdown, including a dozen cigar manufacturer executives, 14 civil aviation executives, and a former food industries minister who was sentenced to 15 years in prison. "If you are going to undertake a profound change in the Cuban economy," says a Cuban economist, "you must take this problem on with great force." (More Cuba stories.)

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