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Sancti Spiritus, Cuba Clamps Down on Illegal Businesses

Sancti Spiritus, Cuba Clamps Down on Illegal Businesses
September 12, 2013
By Cafe Fuerte

HAVANA TIMES — Authorities in Cuba’s province of Sancti Spiritus have
announced that a region-wide police offensive has resulted in the
prosecution of nearly three hundred citizens who had participated in
illicit business activities.

This past Saturday, the province’s weekly periodical Escambray reported
that the crackdown, conducted in the months of July and August,
uncovered a series of unlawful activities leading to fines, official
warnings and the trial of 289 individuals.

According to the newspaper, the police offensive was undertaken “for the
purposes of intensifying the fight against social indiscipline and
illegal activities” announced by President Raul Castro during his
address to the National Assembly of the People’s Power (Cuban
Parliament) on July 7 this year.

The individuals detained were tried for crimes that range from hoarding,
receiving, illicit profit-making activities, misappropriation and
speculation.

A Well-Equipped Rum Factory

The police offensive dismantled 31 illegal home-warehouses, nine
production facilities and two workshops located in the municipalities of
Sancti Spiritus (17), Trinidad (8), Taguasco (7), Cabaiguan (6),
Yaguajay (5), and Jatibonico and La Sierpe (with four such facilities each).

One of the most talked-about cases was a clandestine rum manufacturing
plant discovered in Sancti Spiritus, where authorities confiscated two
200-liter alcohol tanks, 295 small bottles bearing the seal and label of
Cuba’s Ron Bartolome brand, three pounds of industrial coal and
different pieces of equipment used to manufacture the drink.

In Taguasco, authorities discovered a clandestine soft-drink plant and
seized a home-made drink machine and oxygen, carbon dioxide and
acetylene containers.

In the city of Sancti Spiritus, police raided a house where new,
Haier-brand refrigerators were being sold. Five of these units were
confiscated. Authorities are still trying to determine the source of
these units, which were being sold at 1,000 Cuban pesos each.

In another house in Sancti Spiritus, a broad range of products in high
demand were reportedly being hoarded. These products included brushes,
batteries, soap, stove pieces, energy-saving bulbs, cooking oil, sugar,
rum, pencils, steel-wool scourers, powder milk and soldering sticks.

Home Deliveries of Ham

An illegal manufacturer of ham products was also dismantled by
authorities in the provincial capital, where 150 pounds of pork, 134
industrial-strength bags and 43 finished tubes of the product were
confiscated.

In an illegal Cuban rum factory, set up in the storage room of a house
in the town of Fomento, authorities found a barrel of beer (fitted with
a dispenser), an empty, 55-gallon tank with an electric heater inside,
plastic containers filled with a fermented mix and over 100 pounds of sugar.

Another case, described with an unusual level of detail by the local
press, was the seizure of a clandestine bakery located in Trinidad.

“During the search, the police confiscated a weighing scale, a kneading
device, 269 loafs/rolls of bread, 85 baking trays and 27 sealed boxes
containing yeast, weighing 14 kilograms in total. Authorities also
confiscated 30 bottles of lard, a little over 8 kilograms of a product
used to improve bread dough, an open sack of sugar and 24 sealed wheat
flour sacks, the periodical reports.

A Suspicious Vehicle

In Cabaiguan, civil disobedience charges were brought against the driver
of a Moskvitch vehicle who did not pull over when requested to do so by
the police and, during a maneuver, crashed into the back of a patrol car.

Upon inspection, the vehicle was found to contain 10 sacks of raw sugar.
The source of the product has yet to be determined.

The government offensive also brought to light several cases of hoarding
and illegal appropriation of rice. In Guasimal, police agents came upon
a mill used to hull rice grains and confiscated 74 quintals of the
product from the owner.

Other illegal practices uncovered during the police operations included:

- A case of misappropriation at a rice processing plant located in
Tamarindo, La Sierpe. There, several animal-drawn and one home-made
mechanical device loaded with 16 sacks of unprocessed rice were
discovered in the presence of the operators, who were caught in the act
by authorities while packaging the product funneled through an opening
under a conveyor belt. The shift supervisor and two custodians were held
liable for these activities.

- The illegal collection of sand at the Seibabo-Agabama basin and the
sale of this material at a warehouse in Trinidad, where 47 cubic meters
of the product were found.

- Environmental damage caused by two unlicensed carpentry workshops in
Taguasco, unlawful fishing activities by a group of locals and the
capture and trade of local fauna by a resident of Cabaiguan, from whom
109 birds were confiscated.

- At an illegal warehouse set up in a home near the Rio Zaza dairy
product plant in Sancti Spiritus, a great number of products
manufactured at this facility or used to produce food products were
confiscated by authorities. During the raid, police confiscated around
100 boxes of powder milk, two sacks of skim butter, a sealed, 20-liter
plastic bucket of lard, 17 kilograms of chocolate powder, 34 kilograms
of powdered milk, 20 liters of gasoline and 100 liters of diesel fuel.

According to the article, these police operations “relied heavily on the
cooperation of citizens” who contacted authorities by phone or other means.

In recent weeks, Cuba’s official press has been reporting cases of
corruption and massive thefts taking place in State facilities as part
of a nationwide offensive against the illegal practices and social
misdemeanors denounced by President Raul Castro in his address to the
Parliament.

Source: “Crackdown in Sancti Spiritus, Cuba on Illegal Businesses” –
http://www.havanatimes.org/?p=98742

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