Reflections of the Cuba Expert

Since the knowledge of Cuba issues possessed by most of us here at Babalú is based on unreliable and fallible firsthand experience, it is important that we present to our readers the views of “the experts.” For that reason I have decided to make “Reflections of the Cuba Expert” an ongoing series. This expert–who is not Cuban and therefore has not been sullied by the actual experience of life under a dictatorial regime–provides us with a perspective that we dumb Cubans are incapable of grasping.

Last week, an international chemical company, Innospec, Inc., plead guilty to a 12-count criminal information filed by US prosecutors and agreed to pay a $40.2 million fine after investigations by the US Justice Department, the SEC, OFAC, and Britain’s Serious Fraud Office. The investigations found that the company had paid bribes to Iraqi and Indonesian government officials, and that an Innospec subsidiary had paid bribes to Saddam Hussein and his cronies during the UN Oil for Food program. On the US side of the investigation, it was also found that Innospec had violated the U.S. embargo against Cuba by selling chemicals to the Cuban government.

The Reuters article linked above seems to indicate that there is a deep pattern of corruption, bribery, and criminal activity going on at Innospec as evidenced by the following excerpt:

The Securities and Exchange Commission said Innospec had routinely paid millions of dollars in bribes to maintain its sales of tetraethyl lead, an anti-knock compound used in leaded gasoline, to state-owned refineries and oil companies in Iraq and Indonesia.

“This investigation exposed more than $9.2 million in illegal bribes paid or promised to officials in Iraq and Indonesia,” Robert Khuzami, director of the SEC’s enforcement division, said in a statement.

As part of the settlement, Innospec pleaded guilty to a 12-count criminal information filed by U.S. prosecutors in federal court in Washington D.C. The information charged it with wire fraud for paying kickbacks to the former Iraqi government under the United Nations Oil for Food Program and paying bribes to officials in the Iraqi oil ministry.

Innospec also admitted that it sold chemicals to Cuban power plants, in violation of the U.S. embargo against Cuba.

It would seem pretty obvious–especially to us simple-minded Cubans–that Innospec is a corrupt organization that is only interested in making as much money as possible and will do anything and break any law to achieve that goal. But, as the Cuba Expert Extraordinaire, Phil Peters, shows us on his blog, we have it all wrong. Innospec, you see, is a noble company that just wants to help out the Cuban people. By persecuting such benevolent and virtuous companies, the US government is telling Cubans that it just does not care.

This [Innospec’s prosecution] is reminiscent of a prosecution a few years ago of an American who violated the embargo by arranging export of water purification chemicals through Canada.

The message to American companies is that the Obama Administration means business when it comes to embargo enforcement.

The message to the Cuban people is that because of our differences with their government, the United States will make it more cumbersome and expensive for that government to get what it needs, even from sources outside the United States, to generate power and purify water.

I guess if we were real “Cuba experts,” like Phil Peters, we would have been able to see through the corruption and bribery and realize that Innospec is just a magnanimous and beneficent corporation trying to help the Cuban people out. So what if they made millions of dollars by breaking the law, they were only trying to help the Cuban people generate power.

As Phil Peters, the Cuba Expert above all other Cuba Experts, knows, just because you position yourself to make some money off the misery of the Cuban people does not mean you do not care about Cubans and their plight. It only means that those who disagree with your views, which, incidentally, makes Phil Peters lots and lots of money, are simply just not “experts” in all things Cuban.

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