Ericsson in hot water over cold war feud

The US still has not forgotten that tiff it had with Castro at the height of the Cold War.

The US was deeply embarrassed when there was a popular uprising against the US mafia-backed government of Cuba. An attempt to get the country back failed during the Bay of Pigs fiasco, and lead to Cubans asking the Russians for nukes to see off a similar invasion. America’s pressure on Cuba was a trade ban which threatened to keep the country driving 1950’s cars.

That was until Ericsson apparently forgot all about it and was doing some dodgy dealings with Cuba.

Ericsson will now have to pay $1.75 million to the US Department of Commerce for violating US export restrictions on Cuba.

According to Reuters, Ericsson was sending broken equipment from Cuba to the US for repair after masking its origin.

After uncovering the shipments, Ericsson de Panama voluntarily disclosed the violations to the export control arm of the Commerce Department, the settlement showed.

Ericsson de Panama knew that exports from the United States to Cuba were unlawful because it had been informed by its parent company of the embargo placed on Cuba by the United States.

But the idea was dreamed up by three former Ericsson de Panama employees. They were fired after the scheme was uncovered by the company.

They allegedly ran the programme 262 times between 2004 and 2007, concerning about $320,000 worth of equipment.

The Panama branch received broken items from customers in Cuba, removed any recognisable markings and falsified papers before sending the items to a repair centre in the United States. They were shipped back to Cuba via Panama.

Despite the US trade block, the odd argument about nukes and a CIA plot to remove Castro’s beard, Cuba is still there. Although Castro’s government has been accused of human rights abuses, life there must be better than it was under Fulgencio Batista and the Chicago mob.