Cuba: Diaz-Canel Presents his First Cabinet with Few Changes

Miguel Diaz Canel. Photo:


HAVANA TIMES – Cuban deputies today approved the new Council of Ministers of President Miguel Diaz-Canel, without major changes from what he inherited in April from Raul Castro, reported dpa news. 

Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, the Minister of the Armed Forces, General Leopoldo Cintra, and Interior Minister, Vice Admiral Julio Cesar Gandarilla, continue with the most strategic portfolios of the Cuban Government.

The Ministry of Economy changes at the top with the exit of Ricardo Cabrisas, who nevertheless will remain a vice-president of the Council of Ministers. Cabrisas’ vice minister Alejandro Gil Fernandez takes over as minister.

Cabrisas was the Cuban official who managed to renegotiate the country’s historic debt with the Paris Club, under which $8.5 billion US dollars of the official debt of $11.1 billion was forgiven. Cuba had stopped making payments in the 1980s.   

Despite the international success, the domestic economy has suffered and in 2016 it closed with a fall in GDP of 0.9 percent, which meant its first recession in 20 years.

The Cuban parliament almost always votes unanimously for all proposals of the executive.

When Diaz-Canel assumed the presidency last April, he informed the deputies that he would keep the Council of Ministers that he inherited from the administration of Raul Castro and would wait for the July plenary session of the Parliament to announce his new team.

Of the 34 members of the Council of Ministers, Diaz-Canel ratified 20 ministers from the last government of Raúl Castro.

The other most significant changes occurred in Culture, where the writer Abel Prieto leaves and the official Alpidio Alonso enters, while the new Minister of Justice is Oscar Manuel Silveira Martínez, until now the vice president of the Supreme Court.

Those in charge of Tourism, Manuel Marrero; Transport, Adel Yzquierdo; Construction, René Mesa, and Foreign Trade and Investment, Rodrigo Malmierca remain in their posts.

Two historical leaders, Comandante Ramiro Valdes and General Ulises Rosales del Toro, also continue as vice presidents of the Council of Ministers.

The new ministerial team has an average age of 60 years and is made up of 26 men and eight women.

General Raul Castro (c) with President Diaz Canel (l) and Jose Ramon Machado, the number two man in the Communist Party.

After approving the conformation of the new Council of Ministers, the deputies discussed the development of the State budget and began the three days of meetings in which they will debate reforms of the current Constitution, which dates from 1976.

Raul Castro, 87, present at the meeting, remains as the leader of the Communist Party of Cuba, which according to the Constitution and in practice, is the main power of the country.

Once the deputies approve the draft of the new Constitution, and the content is made public, popular consultations with the citizens will be held to finish the process in a referendum, for which there is no established date.

2 thoughts on “Cuba: Diaz-Canel Presents his First Cabinet with Few Changes

  • As I have commented on many occasions in these pages, my democratic socialist friends have nothing in common with communism. The divide between socialists and communists is historic. It became very evident for example in Britain where the ‘Communist Party of Great Britain’ was formed on July 31st, 1920 the communists having previously been known as ‘The Communist Labour Party’. The CPGB published a newspaper named: “The Daily Worker”. The reaction of the British Labour Party (democratic socialists) was that in 1924 at the Annual British Labour Party Conference, a decision was made to exclude the CPGB and its INDIVIDUAL members from membership of the Labour Party.
    During the Second World War, the Home Secretary (similar to Minister of the Interior) a socialist named Herbert Morrison, of the Coalition Government under the the leadership of Churchill, banned the publication of the ‘Daily Worker’.
    There may be those who will be surprised at my defense of a democratic socialism, but my over-riding concern is for the freedoms that are inherent in true democracy and are so abhorred by communists in both belief and practice.
    With specific regard to the Stalinist type of communism and support for it by the Cuban regime, it is appropriate to quote Nikita Khruschev, himself no saint!

    “Stalin acted by imposing his concepts and demanding absolute submission to his opinion. Whoever opposed his concept or tried to prove his own viewpoint and the correctness of his opinion was doomed to removal from the leading collective and to subsequent moral and physical annihilation. This was especially true during the period following the 17th Party Congress when many prominent Party leaders and rank-and-file workers, honest and dedicated to the cause of communism fell victim to Stalin’s despotism.”

    Hence Raul Castro having studied Stalin’s error in note selecting a successor, deciding five years ago to carefully select Diaz-Canel Bermudez as next President and then groom him for his role in continuing Raul’s Stalinist views. Ventura Machado although even older than Raul, continues in his post as an ardent Stalinist. Repression rules.

    It was the Castro brothers adherence to the Russian form of communism under Stalin, that caused Dr. Ernesto Guevara de la Serna Lynch to leave Cuba abandon his Cuban citizenship and seek to promote revolution in other countries. For ‘Che’ favoured the communism of Mao Zedong and recognized that
    if he remained in Cuba, his views would have to be subjugated to those of the Castros.

    The differences are obvious when examining communism as practiced in Cuba and North Korea compared with Vietnam and China. But it is the former not the latter which now has Venezuela and Nicaragua in its vicious grip.

  • No surprise with little change in personnel and none in policy. BBC reports that the word “communist” has been removed from the new Constitution and replaced with “socialist”. Bad news for my democratic socialist friends who detest communism and would not seek to be associated with it.
    The photograph of Diaz-Canel Bermudez with Raul Castro and Ramon Machado Ventura demonstrates that the Stalinist version of communism is still gospel, as both are hard-core Stalinist.
    Meantime, KGB Deputy Chief Nickolai S. Leonov former boss of Vladamir Putin and long term adviser to the Castros initially in Russia in 1953, then Mexico and following the revolution in Havana, will be relaxing happily in the Duma where he is still a member, content that his work has been well rewarded.
    Cuba is apparently doomed for the foreseeable future continue being subject to 19th century Marxism/Leninism and the repression which is its creed in practice. Absolute power and control remain as core policy by the Communist Party of Cuba – bet it doesn’t change it’s name!

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