Who will be Cuba’s Next President?

Havana photo by Juan Suarez

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.

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7 thoughts on “Who will be Cuba’s Next President?

  • In response to Curt, and as myself the son of a very successful spy, one has to admit that as a spy, Hernandez was a failure – he caught caught! But he has “worldly experience” both in Angola and the US. To that can be added that Raul Castro welcomed him back to Cuba with bear hugs and the award of Hero of the Republic. So, he is certainly not readily dismissed.

    Nice also to be able to comment upon Moses’ view. It was clear in 2015 that Diaz-Canel was Raul Castro’s choice as his successor – over three years prior to the actual appointment (Curt would probably interject that it was a democratic process). Indeed in Cuba Lifting the Veil, which following writing was eventually published in April, 2016, I wrote openly of Diaz-Canel as Raul’s successor.

    Methinks that despite his deep knowledge through personal experience of Cuba, Moses is a touch optimistic regarding Cuba accepting a black President. I would be happy to be proven wrong, but irrespective of who is appointed, nothing will change in Cuba, which will remain locked in the merciless grip of dictatorship until the rot sets in! It took 72 years for the USSR to rot from within, it is currently only 63 years since the Cuban revolution.

  • I would go with Gerardo Hernandez. He spent 16 years in an American prison for doing nothing except defending his country from Cuban American terrorism. He is a credit to all Cubans for his bravery in serving his country.

  • I opine that Mr. MacDuff and Mr. Brown are both right. Carlyle’s analysis is well-argued but at it’s very best, an educated guess. No one, but NO ONE, could have guessed that Diaz-Canel, while serving as a Province President, would be picked to be anointed by baby bro’ Raul. I suspect that Diaz-Canel’s successor will equally be as much of a surprise. Dictators always seem to pick either blood relatives or political nobodies to succeed them. Doing so allows them to squeeze a few more years of being in control even though they are officially out of power. Also, a poitical nobody, like a family member, brings no portfolio of their own. They don’t expand the list of enemies to the throne because they are without a past. As a result, the Black VP just might be the choice. He doesn’t have any current power so he has no enemies and he definitely, like Diaz-Canel, would come into the job totally dependent on his predecessor. Finally, not all racist comments make the commentor a racist.

  • Mr. Brown Is entitled to his own opinion especially as an obvious sycophant of the Cuban regime. Why else would he trot out the somewhat pathetic view that the Raul Castro reviewed Constitution was “approved in a referendum” in February 2019. When was anything proposed by Raul Castro not “approved”? My wife actually supervised one of the voting stations and I spent some time observing.
    The driving purpose of changing the Constitution, was to remove the words communist and communism, to replace them with socialist and socialism, in an endeavor to sow confusion and persuade the outside world that change was occurring. But the introductory preamble states quite clearly that Cuba is a One Party State, that being the Communist Party of Cuba.

    Recently, a similar exercise to that to which the Constitution was subjected, has been carried out with “family law”. It too will be “approved” and the Poder Popular will adopt by a vote of 603 to zero.

    There appears to be a somewhat silly attempt to paint me as a racist. I am well aware of the colour of each of the members of Miguel Diaz-Canel’s cabal, including Mesa and the President of the Poder Popular – could they be “token” blacks based upon the Regime’s statistical claim that only 9.9% of Cubans are black – who knowing Cuba, believes that? Does he really believe that the cabal would appoint a black person as President and First Secretary? If so, he is not personally acquainted with racism as practiced by the MININT goons under the direction of Alejandro Castro Espin.

    Perhaps Mr. Brown is under the delusion that in the circle of communist power, all is in logical order. It isn’t! Just as Diaz-Canel himself was appointed by one man, so too will he appoint his successor.

    Finally, Mr. Brown, perhaps that is his colour, obviously writes in blind ignorance when implying that I am racist. All 67 of my black Cuban relatives including my wife, would find the suggestion preposterous. When I write of the racism in Cuba, it is a consequence of experience of my wife and I being interrogated by the MININT goons, not once but several times.

    Time alone will tell whether my analysis is correct, but I will adhere to it. Why Mr. Brown should suggest that listing three prominent members of the PCC as potential contenders for the offices of President and First Secretary as: reflecting the “rigid confines of his Cold War era ultra anti-communism” is a mystery. Does he doubt the loyalty of any of them, and if so which?

  • As the saying goes, Mr MacDuff is entitled to his own opinions but not to his own “facts”

    The current constitution of Cuba approved in a referendum on February 24, 2019, and taking effect on October 11, 2019 restricts the Presidential duration to 2 consecutive five-year terms. In the event of the absence, illness or death of the President of Cuba, the Vice President assumes the presidential duties. The current Vice President of Cuba is Salvador Mesa (a black man for Mr MacDuff’s information)! More specifically Salvador Mesa is the First Vice President in the collective of 6 Vice Presidents, the same leading post once held by Mr Diaz-Canel until assuming the Presidency.

    All the speculations made by Mr MacDuff have no basis is reality and conform only to the creative liberties he engages in within the rigid confines of his Cold War era ultra anti-communism. Curiously all his “bets” on who should assume the Cuban Presidency in the future happen to be non-black Cubans!

  • You apparently Paul are unaware that it is not the office of President in Cuba that holds the dictatorship, but that of First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba – a position that holds precedence over that of the President. It was only after Diaz-Canel holding the Presidency for well over two years, that Raul Castro decided to relinquish that position and pass it on to Miguel.

    The order of precedence is strictly adhered to both in documentation and introduction, where Diaz-Canel is introduced publicly – including in the media, as Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba – and – President of the Republic of Cuba.

  • Question is “who will be the next dictator” as the people continue to suffer hunger and police brutality. ???????

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