Cuba
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    Profile

    Cuba

    Capital

    Havana

    Gross domestic product (GDP)

    USD 100,023.00 million

    Income group

    Upper middle income

    Population

    11,333,483

    Area

    109,880 km²

    Geography type

    Island

    3.44

    Criminality score

    165th of 193 countries

    29th of 35 countries in Americas

    8th of 13 countries in Caribbean

    Criminal market

    4.00

    Human trafficking

    6.00

    Human smuggling

    6.00

    Arms trafficking

    1.50

    Flora crimes

    4.00

    Fauna crimes

    3.00

    Non-renewable resource crimes

    4.00

    Heroin trade

    2.50

    Cocaine trade

    4.00

    Cannabis trade

    5.00

    Synthetic drug trade

    4.00

    Criminal actors

    2.88

    Mafia-style groups

    4.00

    Criminal networks

    2.50

    State-embedded actors

    4.00

    Foreign actors

    1.00

    5.38

    Resilience score

    63rd of 193 countries

    13th of 35 countries in Americas

    5th of 13 countries in Caribbean

    Political leadership and governance

    6.50

    Government transparency and accountability

    2.50

    International cooperation

    6.50

    National policies and laws

    6.00

    Judicial system and detention

    3.00

    Law enforcement

    7.00

    Territorial integrity

    8.00

    Anti-money laundering

    5.50

    Economic regulatory capacity

    5.50

    Victim and witness support

    4.00

    Prevention

    7.00

    Non-state actors

    3.00

    5.38 2.88 4.00 5.38 2.88 4.00

    5.38

    Resilience score

    63rd of 193 countries

    13th of 35 countries in Americas

    5th of 13 countries in Caribbean

    Political leadership and governance

    6.50

    Government transparency and accountability

    2.50

    International cooperation

    6.50

    National policies and laws

    6.00

    Judicial system and detention

    3.00

    Law enforcement

    7.00

    Territorial integrity

    8.00

    Anti-money laundering

    5.50

    Economic regulatory capacity

    5.50

    Victim and witness support

    4.00

    Prevention

    7.00

    Non-state actors

    3.00

    Analysis

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    People

    Cuba is a source country for victims of sexual exploitation trafficked into the US and, to some extent, a transit country for African and Asian migrants en route to the US. Additionally, sex tourism is common in the country and Cuba, along with Jamaica, Barbados and the Dominican Republic, is a popular Caribbean destination for sex tourism. While prostitution is legal and widespread, there are reports of workers experiencing trafficking-like situations. Furthermore, Cuba’s international medical mission programme, Más Médicos, is often accused of constituting a form of human trafficking as deployed medical practitioners experience coercion and confiscation of both pay and identity documents.

    Like human trafficking, human smuggling is an important criminal market in Cuba, as it is a source country for people trying to reach the US using two main routes – the Straits of Florida or overland through Central America. Local organizations aid the crossing via the Straits of Florida, supplying irregular migrants with homemade rafts. Irregular migrants can also fly from Cuba to a Latin American country before crossing into the US, in which case the land journey is facilitated by international smuggling rings.

    Trade

    While the illicit arms market in Cuba is small, there is evidence of internal demand fuelled by street gangs. Moreover, the Cuban state has helped stimulate global and regional illicit arms trade through its efforts in support of Bolivarian colectivos in Venezuela. Cuban arms shipments destined for North Korea have also been detained in Panama.

    Environment

    Cuba is not a major hub for environmental criminal markets, but environmental crimes are known to occur. Non-renewable resource crime is perhaps the largest domestically generated criminal market in the country. The island suffers a significant deficit in oil supply and has a tight fuel-rationing regime. This has given rise to a local black market in diverted gasoline and fuel. State workers or thieves often divert fuel from facilities or tanker trucks, while law enforcement officers allegedly collaborate with robbers by allowing them entrance into state facilities in exchange for bribes. Members of the Cuban military have been implicated in fuel theft and the selling of diverted gasoline on the black market as well. There is also evidence of artisanal mining and illegal trade in gold and mercury, but little is known about the nature of these criminal markets. Illegal captive wildlife activities are common throughout Cuba and constitute the basis for the country’s criminal fauna market. Exotic birds such as parrots and birds of prey, Gundlach’s hawk and Cuban black hawks, are sold by illegal breeders as pets in the local markets, while crocodiles and hawksbill sea turtles are sold as bushmeat. The market appears to be driven mainly by independent actors rather than criminal networks. However, there is an organized trafficking network responsible in part for the illegal trafficking of Cuban painted snails. Some of the demand that drives the fauna market in Cuba is domestic, but there are reports that wildlife is trafficked to the US and Europe too. The criminal market for flora, meanwhile, seems relatively small and mostly relates to illegal logging. Reports have confirmed that state-licensed carpenters use most of Cuba’s illegally harvested wood.

    Drugs

    Cuba is predominantly a destination market for cannabis and cocaine as well as, to a limited extent, a transit country for cannabis. The criminal markets for heroin and synthetic drugs are negligible in size. Cannabis is the most consumed and trafficked drug in Cuba, with demand coming primarily from visiting tourists and to a lesser extent from Cuban nationals. Cuba is also a transit country for cannabis trafficked through the Caribbean, though it is not central to the regional trade in any way. Cannabis is predominantly supplied from abroad, but domestic production exists. Actors involved in the cannabis trade include local farmers, international cartels and state embedded actors who deal in seized cannabis. Cocaine is the second most-consumed drug in Cuba. As with cannabis, tourists generate most of the demand, as the drug is generally too expensive for Cubans. Cocaine enters Cuba through maritime routes and is often transported by speedboats. Most shipments are organized and financed by Cubans living abroad. However, corrupt elements of Cuba’s law enforcement are believed to allow the trade and may even facilitate it.

    The criminal market for heroin in Cuba is small and, again, demand is generated by tourists. Reports indicate that heroin is more expensive in Cuba than in most other countries, which puts it out of the price range for locals. The synthetic drug trade in Cuba is minimal, but there is a critical lack of knowledge of the nature and extent of consumption of this type of drug. There is, however, some evidence of consumption of stolen medicines, which, in many cases, are psychotropic drugs such as methylphenidate.

    Criminal Actors

    The most powerful actors in Cuba’s organized crime landscape appear to be state-embedded actors. Inefficiencies and supply shortages have created the foundation for several black markets in the country, which in turn have led to endemic illegality underpinning large parts of the economy. Military, intelligence, and law-enforcement personnel are heavily involved in these markets and control substantial parts of them. Additionally, state-embedded actors participate in currency manipulation, operate or control businesses, participate in grey-market activities, and use their enterprises for illicit enrichment or money laundering. While many more organized mafia-style groups may be quick to disintegrate, there is evidence that some gangs operate on a somewhat sustained basis. These are particularly involved in sexual exploitation and prostitution, especially of men. The most famous is Sangre por Dolor, a group that operates mainly in parts of Havana where male prostitution is visible, and in Santiago de Cuba.

    More loosely organized youth gangs are usually concentrated in the main cities like Havana and Santiago de Cuba, although they are also present in the eastern province of Granma and the south-eastern province of Guantánamo. Cuba is not an attractive market for foreign criminal groups due to its poor economic situation and the strict economic control exercised by the state. There have been cases in which Cuban citizens living abroad have taken part in drug trafficking with the complicity of locals, but the low number of cases shows that interaction is minimal.

    Leadership and governance

    Cuba is an authoritarian one-party state with severely restricted space for independent political organization. And the government's stance on organized crime has not been clear. On the one hand, crime is severely punished in Cuba, but black-market activity compensating for the state’s inefficient provision of public goods is tolerated. Despite Cuba fares better than many countries in Latin America and the Caribbean in terms of perceived levels of corruption, both petty and grand corruption are major issues. Governance in Cuba does not meet basic standards of transparency and accountability, and the institutional framework to combat corruption does not operate independently of executive influence. Consequently, officials can engage in corruption with high levels of impunity.

    Cuba is party to most international treaties and conventions pertaining to organized crime. The country has also signed extradition treaties with eleven countries. Cuba does not appear to be obstructive to international cooperation against organized crime and has successfully cooperated with the US against drug trafficking in the Caribbean. Nevertheless, the government has been strongly criticized for its foreign policy, which has contributed to arms proliferation in Latin America and for being obstructive in letting independent NGOs evaluate its human rights situation. Cuba has a number of laws aimed at tackling the various criminal markets in the country, which are largely fit for purpose. Implementation, however, is not always guaranteed, and the judicial system suffers a number of systemic issues that weaken the rule of law.

    Criminal justice and security

    The Cuban legal system does not guarantee due process and adherence to human rights principles. While the right to a fair trial is codified in the Constitution, it is often undermined by the judiciary's lack of independence. The political opposition is often unfairly prosecuted, and citizens are not protected against arbitrary arrests. Cuban prisons are among the most overcrowded in Latin America and reports of torture and ill-treatment are widespread. Cuba’s police and military have often been regarded as relatively efficient in cracking down on some forms of transnational organized crime. The committees for the defence of the revolution – a network of neighbourhood associations for surveillance – have long been a key instrument in tackling groups of criminals before they mature into gangs. Nevertheless, critics often argue that this efficiency has come at the expense of basic rights and that low levels of crime in Cuba have little to do with the actual efficiency of law enforcement. Although smuggling activities persist in the country, the territorial integrity is very well established.

    Economic and financial environment

    The Cuban economy is centrally planned by the state. The state owns and operates all significant enterprises and the military heavily influences Cuba’s most dynamic sectors. This economic system allows for little private sector development or entrepreneurship and limits legitimate economic opportunities. The centrally planned economy and the tight rationing regime have failed to provide necessary goods and income to many Cuban households. This, in turn, has produced a significant black market economy. Participation in this economy is widespread and considered a socially acceptable coping mechanism.

    Cuba has legislation regulating all aspects of money laundering but has failed to control financial institutions that service transactions related to proceeds from international drug trafficking. State-sponsored currency manipulation and money laundering have been core components of getting around financial sanctions, and as a result, Cuba has numerous strategic deficiencies in its legal anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism framework.

    Civil society and social protection

    Few mechanisms for victim protection can be identified, and Cuba generally lacks comprehensive support mechanisms for witnesses and victims of crimes such as human trafficking. On the other hand, a medical programme for the rehabilitation on people struggling with drug abuse is available. The Cuban state’s approach to crime prevention is universal access to education, culture and sport. There is a strong drug prevention system in place, which was assessed to comply with international norms, along with a national healthcare system that increasingly focuses on harm reduction. Awareness of anti-social conduct is raised in children from an early age in the primary-school system. At the same time, however, the harsh nature of punishment for even minor offences has served as a deterrence mechanism. Moreover, the committees for the defence of the revolution have long been key instruments in tackling groups of criminals before they become gangs.

    Although the country’s ongoing managed transition has given space to an emerging civil society, most tolerated civil society organizations are subordinate to the state and its ideology. Independent organizations that engage in controversial topics such as human rights, are often subject to persecution. The Cuban constitution guarantees freedom of expression but the state has little tolerance of criticism. State security persecutes journalists to such an extent that, in terms of media freedom, Cuba is considered one of the most restrictive countries in the world.

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    The criminal markets score is represented by the pyramid base size and the criminal actors score is represented by the pyramid height, on a scale ranging from 1 to 10. The resilience score is represented by the panel height, which can be identified by the side of the panel.

    This report was funded in part by a grant from the United States Department of State.

    ENACT is funded by the European Union and implemented by the Institute for Security Studies and INTERPOL, in affiliation with the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime.

    The opinions, findings and conclusions stated herein are those of the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime and do not necessarily reflect those of the United States Department of State.