Raúl Castro shakes up cabinet in Cuba

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

On Monday, Raúl Castro, the President of Cuba, announced several changes of ministers in his cabinet. This is the first major reshuffle since Raúl took over as President after his brother Fidel Castro. A total of twelve ministers were replaced.

Raúl Castro in 2008.
Image: Agência Brasil.

One of the highest profile changes was Carlos Lage Dávila, the executive secretary of the Council of Ministers, who was replaced by General José Amado Ricardo Guerra. According to senior research associate at the University of Miami, José Azel, Lage was responsible for rescuing the Cuban economy from the downturn that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. It was not announced whether Lage will continue to serve in his other position as the vice president of the Council of State of Cuba.

"It looks like Raúl putting some of his own people in," said Wayne Smith, who heads the Cuba program at the Center for International Policy. Smith added that this "is the biggest shake-up that I've seen in a very long time ... for the last 30 or 40 years."

"This is one more sign that Raúl Castro is consolidating his power," José Azel said. "He's putting his people in there."

"It is a new direction, we're just not clear what direction Castro is planning — a return to communist orthodoxy or pragmatism? However, Castro does seem to be trying to put in position people closer to him than to his brother, Fidel," said Al Jazeera's Latin America editor, Lucia Newman.

Among other ministers replaced were foreign minister Felipe Pérez Roque, finance minister Georgina Barreiro Fajardo, labor minister Alfredo Morales Cartaya, and economy minister Jose Luis Rodriguez.


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