Cuban officials shown video warning on corruption

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By ANDREA RODRIGUEZ, Associated Press

HAVANA (AP) — Cuban authorities are summoning bureaucrats and Communist Party members to watch a video about corruption investigations, a person who has seen the video said Thursday, as President Raul Castro's government sends a stern warning that it's serious about cracking down on graft.

The recording shows suspects giving detailed confessions and other evidence from two cases involving bribery, embezzlement and the diversion of funds, said the person, who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Castro recently called corruption a worse threat to the revolution than anything the United States could dream up.

He has launched a battle against it on the island, leading to a wave of investigations and arrests, mostly Cuban officials at state-run companies and ministries but also some foreigners.

Canadian, French, Czech, Chilean and English citizens have all been jailed or sentenced, and a number of South American and European companies booted from the island.

Speaking this weekend at a Communist Party conference, Castro said information on the probes was being circulated island-wide and hinted that more prosecutions are in store for the future.

"In due time, after rulings from the competent tribunals, everyone will learn of these doings in depth," he said.

The source said the first case covered in the video touched on a fictitious transaction in which a company paid for onions that existed only on paper. It involved a small group of people, none of them high-ranking officials.

The person said the other was a case of white-collar crime that involved alleged overbilling and bribery of officials, and targeted dozens of people from business executives and vice ministers to rank-and-file employees and government bureaucrats.

It apparently was linked to an investigation of the Tokmakjian Group, a Canadian-run car dealership that was raided in September and its president placed under house arrest.

Castro first mentioned the video in December in a speech to parliament.

It was not released publicly, and everyone summoned to view it was told to leave their personal belongings at the door and admitted with nothing more than their ID cards, according to the source.

Cuba has a history of shaming those who fall from grace as an object lesson.

When Vice President Carlos Lage and Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque, both thought to be potential successors for the Castro brothers, were abruptly fired in 2009, secret footage of the two drinking whisky and joking about the country's aging leaders was shown to thousands of Communist Party members nationwide.

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