10/11/13 - Gulf Times - Businessman jailed without charge in Cuba
An elderly Panamanian businessman has been jailed in Cuba for more than a
year in what is variously described as a case of corruption or attempts by
Havana to renege on its debts or switch more of its trade to businessmen
from politically sympathetic countries.
Nessin Abadi, in his early 70s and owner of the large Audiofoto chain of
electronics stores, was arrested around August of last year but has not
been tried or even charged, according to friends and business contacts in
Relatives have kept the case out of the news media because of fears that
the Cuban government will retaliate against him, the sources said. The
family declined a request for an interview or information on the case.
But the public records of Panamas foreign ministry show Deputy Foreign
Minister Vladimir Franco spent $1,551.42 on a trip to Havana on October
7-8, 2012, to talk to Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez about the
Nessin Abadi case.
The ministry did not respond to calls for comment for the story.
Abadi, part of a large family of Syrian Jews who migrated to Panama in the
early 1900s, had been selling Asian-made electronic, household and other
goods and equipment to the Cuban government for many years out of Panamas
duty-free Colon Free Zone (CFZ).
He has been detained in several homes in Havana run by the interior
ministry and one jail, and interrogated almost daily by ministry
investigators but has not been charged, according to his friends and
Cuban officials told relatives during the few contacts they have been
allowed that he is suspected of corruption, added the sources, who said
they were outraged by Abadis jailing but asked to remain anonymous
because of the familys wishes.
The government of Raul Castro jailed at least a dozen foreign businessmen
in Havana in 2011 and 2012 in what he painted as a crackdown on corruption
so prevalent on the island that it was endangering the future of the
CFZ businessmen said that Abadi has a reputation for total honesty and
that they suspected Cuba arrested him to avoid paying its debt to him -
and to send a message to its other debtors in Panama to await any late
payments patiently and keep their mouths shut.
Cubas total debt to CFZ business owners is not known because there is no
central clearing system, but it is considered to be significant because
it is increasingly becoming more and more difficult to collect from
Cuba, said one Panamanian businessman.
For Cuba to accuse foreign businessmen of corruption is like calling the
kettle black, he added.
What happened is that there is no law in Cuba. These international
investors served their useful purpose and now they are being burned by the
A similar argument was made last month by Stephen Purvis, a British
businessman arrested in Havana in 2011, jailed for 15 months, tried this
June and sentenced essentially to time served. He is now back in England.
Although reporters in Havana were told that Purvis was under investigation
for corruption, he wrote in a letter to the British magazine The Economist
last month that he was verbally accused of revealing state secrets and
other violations, but never corruption.
Instead, he wrote, he was convicted of various supposed breaches of
financial regulations, charges that could easily be filed against any of
the several other foreign businessmen he met in jails in Havana.
Few of those cases have been reported in the press and there are many
more in the system than is widely known, Purvis wrote. As they are all
still either waiting for charges, trial or sentencing they will certainly
not be talking to the press.
Original Source / Fuente Original:
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