US State Dept. welcomes Cuban visa changes
Globe and Mail
Cuba says it is getting rid of a decades old rule that requires islanders to apply for an exit permit before leaving the country. The U.S. State Department says it welcomes any changes that will allow the Cuban people to travel more freely. 0 comments
Deal to make Ikea furniture in Cuban prisons was hatched using East German trading connections, according to reports
Ikea is facing allegations that it used Cuban prisoners to make its products in the 1980s.
The claims follow allegations this week that East German political prisoners were forced to make furniture for the Swedish retailer from the 1970s.
According to a report in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, a deal to make Ikea furniture in Cuban prisons was hatched using East German trading connections.
The agreement was signed in September 1987, according to files held in the Stasi archivesfiles, after a delegation of East German business representatives went to Havana for talks with the Cuban Interior Ministry.
Talks were held with several government officials, including Enrique Sanchez, the head of the state company Emiat which was responsible for furnishing the homes of the Cuban political elite. According to the files, the production sites discussed were “incorporated in the Interior Ministry’s prison facilities”.
The contract signed required Cuba to produce 35,000 dining tables, 10,000 children’s tables, and 4,000 three-piece suites.
Ikea reacted to the reports, which emerged following an investigation by Swedish television, by saying it had begun its own inquiry and was keen to see the Stasi files to check for evidence and compare them with the company’s own records.
A spokeswoman said Ikea “condemned the use of political prisoners” in its production “in the strongest possible terms”. She added the company took the claims very seriously, though denied that Ikea knew it had been using prison labour.
The records show the collaboration with Cuba did not initially go very smoothly. In early 1988 the first delivery of three-piece suites was delayed due to poor quality. Changes to the production process led to shipments of the products resuming several months later.