HAVANA – Corruption at the highest levels of government – not the meddling of a small band of dissidents – is the greatest threat to Cuba’s communist system, a leading academic said in a highly unusual opinion posted recently on a state website.
The article by Esteban Morales – a historian who has written extensively on race and relations with the United States – crossed a number of red lines in tightly controlled Cuba, including openly discussing corruption rumours surrounding the dismissal of a top government aviation official who had fought alongside Ernesto “Che” Guevara and the Castros in the 1950s.
Morales said some top Cuban officials are preparing to divide the spoils if Cuba’s political system disintegrated, like the shadowy oligarchs that emerged from the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s.
“In reality, corruption is much more dangerous than so-called internal dissent,” Morales wrote in the piece, which appeared on the website of the state National Artists and Writers Union of Cuba.
“The latter is isolated . . . but corruption is truly counter-revolutionary because it comes from within the government and the state apparatus, which are the ones that really control the country’s resources.”
Members of the artists’ union have been surprisingly critical of the government in the past, but often with little effect. Criticism can also appear in government newspapers, but rarely on such hot-button issues as corruption among senior officials.
Morales is a prominent intellectual who only last Monday appeared on a state television programme defending the government on another topic. The frank assessment on the website went far further than what was normally tolerated