The President’s Birthday: Cuba’s Raul Castro Turns 85

By Fernando Ravsberg

Raul Castro
Raul Castro

HAVANA TIMES — With fanfare in the media, Cuban President Raul Castro turns 85 on Friday and is approaching the end of his mandate, scheduled for 2018. His birthday comes at a time of a profound transformation of the economy, in complex negotiations with the US and paying billions of dollars to international creditors to attract investment that the country needs.

His personal history includes almost 70 years of political activity. Linked to Marxism since adolescence, he took part in the 1953 attack on the Moncada Cuartel, he was a political prisoner, exiled in Mexico, then the leader of a guerrilla front, and later the builder of the Revolutionary Armed Forces. As president of Cuba, [since his brother Fidel fell ill in July 2006 and elected in 2008] he is the father of economic reforms, architect of generational change and is credited with bringing Washington to the negotiating table.

Many Cubans call him the Chinaman for his eyes but he also qualifies for the nickname because of his relationship with time. His slogan for reform is “slowly but surely” and the government plan extends until 2030, well beyond the time of his mandate, limited by himself when he proposed that no leader should be in office more than 10 years .

The main objective of his government seems to be to create a sustainable economic model, which would improve the living conditions of Cubans, while also maintaining universal health coverage, free education and culture accessible to all citizens. It is an ambitious goal for a Third World country with few natural resources but possible in a nation with huge human resources.


21 thoughts on “The President’s Birthday: Cuba’s Raul Castro Turns 85

  • June 7, 2016 at 11:27 pm
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    If you are questioning whether the executions occurred or not, you are questioning the veracity of Raul Castro himself. Do you question whether Hiroshima was the target for an atomic bomb just because you cannot list the names of the victims?
    I note you did not answer whether as a lawyer, you approved execution without trial! I suppose that the question of morality is of little consideration?

  • June 6, 2016 at 9:37 am
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    If you were on the stand, the judge would order you to answer my question. You obviously cannot.

  • June 5, 2016 at 10:17 am
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    How do you define “successful”? Are you sure Socialism is “firmly in place”? After the Castros and their cronies die off, I am not so sure.

  • June 5, 2016 at 8:51 am
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    No they don’t and if you believe what you’ve just written, you have either never been there or never left the tourist areas. And if you have then open your eyes.

  • June 4, 2016 at 8:16 pm
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    Barack Obama held to the principles of freedom when he spoke in Cuba, both at the press conference following his meeting with Raul Castro (which included Raul fiddling with his earphones to avoid answering questions) and in his speech at the Alicia Alonso Teatre.
    Obama clarified that if change was to be pursued in US policy towards Cuba, there would have to be reciprocity. Unlike Francois Hollande of France, unlike the EU Italian Foreign Minister, unlike the British Foreign Secretary all of whom rolled over in the unsupported belief that ‘change’ was occurring in Cuba, Obama stuck to the principles of freedom, freedom of speech, freedom of information and in particular access to the Internet for all Cubans.
    Raul Castro has demonstrated masterly political manipulation in fooling so many in the free world into believing that change is occurring in the lives of the people of Cuba. They however cannot respond as criticism of the regime lands them in jail, being a criminal offence. Within the country at large no improvement in living standards is perceivable.
    Casa Particulars and Paladars have existed since about 1998 when it was realized that they could attract tourist hard currency. For example in Trinidad de Cuba there are over 300 casa particulars and more than two dozen paladars. All are taxed!

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