By Carlyle MacDuff
HAVANA TIMES – Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez was appointed President of Cuba on April 18, 2018. Raul Castro had previously decided that Presidency would be limited to eight years. In consequence, Diaz-Canel has already served over half his period as President. He was appointed First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba which holds precedence over the role of President, on April 19th, 2021. Although President, on March 23, 2021, he obtained his Ph.D. for his thesis: Government Management System Based on Science and Innovation for Sustainable Development in Cuba. Maybe one day he will pursue it?
The time will come within the next two years, when Diaz-Canel will have to indicate his intended choice for appointment as his successor. No doubt he will as demonstrated by Raul Castro, hang on to his role as First Secretary of the Communist Party for a longer period.
The old school of the Castro era are all too old for consideration. The next President like Diaz-Canel himself, will be appointed from the post-revolutionary age group. One can debate the necessary credentials for the role, but as Raul Castro illustrated by selecting Diaz-Canel, the person appointed will be totally committed to the Stalinist interpretation of Marx/Engels/Lenin with the necessary mental discipline to exert total power and control over the PCC itself, the Council of Ministers, and the Executive Committee. The demonstrations of July 11, 2021, along with the subsequent non-public trials imprisoning participants some still in their teens, for up to twenty years illustrated Diaz-Canel’s ability to be totally ruthless, a true reflection of the Castros.
There are the obvious Party hacks such as Manuel Marrero, currently Prime Minister, but he is an unlikely choice. The Vice-President Roberto Tomas Morales Ojeda merely fills the office, but as a medical doctor, has neither the necessary image or demonstrated political ability for the role.
The most obvious candidate from within the known hierarchy is Bruno Eduardo Rodriguez Parrillo, currently Minister of Foreign Affairs. Rodriguez aged 64, being born in 1958, has held his position since 2009. In addition to addressing the General Assembly of the United Nations, he has regularly responded to the world at large about a wide variety of the Regime’s concerns and has met many of the world’s leading politicians. It was he who one day following Fidel Castro rejecting the Obama attempt to open the door to negotiations about the US Embargo and Guantanamo, verified that lifting the Embargo had to be a unilateral act by the US and that: “There will be no reciprocity.”
Although appearing to be affable, in reality Bruno strictly toes the PCC line – without variance. For the last few years, like many in the top Cuban hierarchy including the President, the evidence of good living affected his waistline. But more recently, perhaps recognizing that he qualified for the group of “Los Gordos”, he has shown discipline and slimmed down. If appointed he would be 68 and holding office until aged 76.
Lurking away in the depths of the Ministry of the Interior is Major General Alejandro Castro Espin, son of Raul Castro and Vilma Espin. Head of the notorious State Police (the goons) and both internal and external (spying) services, Alejandro maintains a very low profile, but is undoubtedly as ruthless as his father, and although an engineer, has a master’s degree in international relations. He also served in the Cuban military in Angola, where although kept well away from the front-line, he lost the sight of one eye in an accident in Luanda, earning the name: El Tuerto – The one-eyed. The second of his three sisters, Mariela, is a Member of the National Assembly and head of the National Centre for Sex Education. Born in 1965, Alejandro if appointed would be 63 and only 71 after 8 years in office.
There is a dark horse! Gerardo Hernandez Nordelo will be remembered for being the leader of “The Cuban Five”, known also as La Red Avispa or Wasp Network. As such he spent 16 years in a US Jail, from which he donated sperm which was used for artificial insemination of his wife in Cuba, Adriana Perez O’Conner. He was released in time to return to Cuba for the birth of his son. Since returning to Cuba to be welcomed with hugs by Raul Castro, Hernandez, 56, has been quietly busy. He too is a Deputy in the National Assembly, but more significantly, is now National Coordinator for the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution – the CDRs! Hernandez was an actual combatant for Cuba in Angola. The US linked his wife to also being employed in espionage.
The obvious question is the relationship between Alejandro Castro and Gerardo Hernandez who when in the US had Alejandro as his boss. Would one act as a front guy for the other? Alejandro has the advantage of his former brother-in-law Luis Alberto Lopez-Callejas controlling the GAESA conglomerate and with it, over 80% of the Cuban economy.