Cuba Communist Party officials want academic expelled for criticizing corruption

By Will Weissert, AP
Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Cuba Communists want member expelled for essay

HAVANA — Local leaders of Cuba’s Communist Party want to expel a prominent academic for an article decrying widespread corruption, but lower-ranking members have rejected the order pending an appeal, according to an associate of the writer.

Esteban Morales, a historian who has long written on race and relations with the United States, was ordered removed by a party committee in Havana’s Playa district, said Pedro Campos, a former Cuban diplomat who once worked as a researcher under Morales at the University of Havana’s Center for the Study of the United States.

But grass-roots party members in Playa said they considered the committee’s action too harsh and rejected it, and Morales said he would appeal the sanctions, according to Campos.

Neither the party nor Morales have commented on the case, and it was unclear if Morales has been formally removed from the party yet.

It was also not clear if the municipal committee was responding to complaints from higher levels or acting on its own. Municipal committees report to provincial committees, which are overseen by the powerful Central Committee that meets only behind closed-doors.

Campos first posted word of action against Morales in an essay on, a left-leaning political website. In a subsequent phone interview with The Associated Press, Campos confirmed the facts published online, but refused further comment.

He also described the effort to dismiss Morales from the Communist Party on the English-language Havana Times website. He said he had known Morales since 1991 and described him as a committed communist.

At issue is an article Morales wrote in April that described corruption at the highest echelons of Cuba’s government — not the meddling of a few opposition activists — as the greatest threat to the country’s communist system.

Nearly as unusual as his public complaint was the fact that his essay was posted on the state-run website of the National Artists and Writers Union of Cuba. The article was removed a day after foreign media in Havana reported on it.

Morales’ essay crossed a number of red lines in tightly controlled Cuba, including openly discussing corruption rumors surrounding the recent dismissal of a top aviation official who had fought alongside Ernesto “Che” Guevara and Fidel and Raul Castro in the 1950s.

“There must be some truth to these reports, because this is a small country where everyone knows each other,” Morales wrote.

He also said some Cuban officials are preparing to divide the spoils if Cuba’s political system disintegrates, like the shadowy oligarchs who emerged from the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s.

“In reality, corruption is much more dangerous than so-called internal dissent,” he wrote. “The latter is isolated … but corruption is truly counterrevolutionary because it comes from within the government and the state apparatus.”

Morales didn’t criticize the Castro brothers, but said cronyism is rampant.

“It has become evident that there are people in government and state positions who are preparing a financial assault for when the revolution falls,” he wrote. “Others likely have everything ready to produce the transfer of state property into private hands, like what happened in the former Soviet Union.”

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