When Castro withdrew from the daily running of the country two years ago, he spread his duties among six close advisors. The first among equals was his brother Raul, but along with him six more figures were appointed to key positions in Cuban politics. Thus he hoped to prevent a political struggle from breaking out.
"THE OLD GUARD"
Raul Castro (Centrist)
Ricardo Alarcon (71)(Centrist), National Assembly President
Raul Castro - remains a committed communist and a fidelista, but has been always far more pragmatic and administratively competent than his older brother.
Raul Castro will remain the head of state, but it is not know whom he will pick for his cabinet and which of his brother's favorites he will hold off at a distance. The goal is to not to block the way for younger people, but to provide experience and ideas. Castro wanted to prepare his compatriots psychologically for his departure, so that it would not come as a shock. He hoped to prevent a political struggle from breaking
Economic reforms managed by the Cuban Armed Forces headed by Raul Castro as the best hope for the near future
The Cuban Armed Forces were the first to introduce capitalist business practices into Cuba and now control technology and computing firms, beach resort hotels, car rental firms, an airline, a fleet of buses and a large retail chain.
The Cuban sugar industry is run by a general, as is the ports administration and the lucrative cigar industry.
(?) Minister of Information Ramiro Valdes, who many believe is in a power sharing arrangement with Raul.
(?) Culture Minister Abel Prieto (Centrist).
They support martket mechanisms to improve the state-run economy and are behind modest reforms
Carlos Lage (Reformer) (57), Vice President
The technocrats. Old veterans who have a reputation as liberals. They are considered supporters of economic reform on the Chinese model. Carlos Laje, deputy chairman of the State Council and third-ranking figure in the Cuban state after the Castro brothers, is considered the leader of the Chinese. His main base of influence is that he is responsible for the country's electrical power and is a link between Cuban authorities and Cuba's main sponsor, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
The big winner in the shuffle appears to Lage: credited with implementing limited reforms that rescued Cuba's faltering economy in the 1990s. And last month, Lage - who holds the key position of secretary of the executive committee of the Council of Ministers, a top policymaking body - led a high-level delegation to Venezuela to sign a series of economic accords that farther cemented ties between the two leftist nations.
Lage is credited with engineering and implementing the limited reforms that restarted Cuba's economy after the Soviet collapse. The programs included legalizing the dollar, creating small private enterprises and agricultural cooperatives, and increasing foreign investment and tourism. Although Fidel Castro reversed many of the reforms in 2003, Lage is viewed favorably among foreign businessmen in Cuba as a pragmatist open to economic change.
the economic reins are specifically handed over to a “commission” made up of
- Carlos Lage (Reformer), a vice-president and member of the Communist Party’s Political Bureau,
- Francisco Soberon (Reformer), who heads the Central Bank, and
- Felipe Perez (Fidel protege, hardliner), the Minister for Foreign Affairs, also known to Cubans as “Fax” because he always repeats everything Castro says or does.
Responsibility for the “energy revolution” – the most pressing of hundreds of infrastructure issues in Cuba at the moment – is handed over to Lage
They are more willing to tolerate dissidents and a loyal opposition. Recognize the efficacy of a market system and embrace a mixed economy.
"THE TROPICAL TALIBAN"
Felipe Perez Roque (42), Foreign Minister, Castro's former head of staff.
A group of young Cuban communists that Castro has promoted in the last ten years. Initially developed in response to the Elian Gonzales controversy. They were all active in the Communist Youth Union until recently and are considered more radical than their elders. This has earned them the nickname of the “tropical Taliban.” The charismatic leader of the Taliban is Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque. It is thought that Castro was grooming him as his successor, but did not transfer power to him because of his youth. He is clearly the one whom Castro was talking about when he said that a good replacement for him who be a young person who has accomplished several international missions. They would join the ranks of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Chavez in their anti-American rhetoric. Raul Castro does not have particularly good personal relations with Perez Roque.
- Otto Rivero, vice president of the Council of Ministers for the Battle of Ideas,
- Hassan Perez, vice president of the Union of Communists,
- Miriam Yanet Martin, president of the Jose Marti pioneers youth group
The so-called "fourth-generation" revolutionaries were promoted to key positions by Fidel Castro but may not fit into Raul Castro's priorities, suggesting less focus on ideology and international affairs and more on governing efficiently.
"They have lost the kind of power that Fidel gave them to go everywhere giving orders and saying what should be done," said a Havana-based diplomat who asked not to be identified.
"The ministries have returned to their logical role. Raul wants an effective organization," the diplomat said.
Jose Ramon Machado Ventura (78) (Hardliner)
Jose Ramon Balaguer (75)
They are the “doctors,” headed by the former and current ministers of health, Jose Ramon Machado Ventura and Jose Ramon Balaguer. In the last two years, they were the closest to Castro, as he lied in the hospital. Also, the development of medicine has always been an important national project in Cuba, and it has become almost comparable to national security since Castro's hospitalization. The doctors are attempting to play the role of mediators.
Health, which is a huge export earner for the regime (doctors for sale in exchange for cheap oil from Venezuela) is given to Jose Balaguer, the minister of public health. And so on.
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