10 February 2007

Who’s Up, Who’s Down? Down in Cuba

Gary Marx of the Chicago Tribune tries to read the tea leaves in Cuba in this article

Down according to Most Cuba watchers is Felipe Perez Roque who used to be everywhere and is hardly visible now .

Also down are Fidel’s hand-picked cronies called the Tropical Taliban. These were true Marxist and Fidel worshippers.

Notably absent from the spotlight since Castro handed authority last July to his younger brother, Raul, are Otto Rivero, Hassan Perez and other young radicals collectively known by diplomats and some Cubans here as "the Taliban."

The so-called "fourth-generation" revolutionaries were promoted to key positions by Fidel Castro but may not fit into Raul Castro's priorities, suggesting less focus on ideology and international affairs and more on governing efficiently.

"They have lost the kind of power that Fidel gave them to go everywhere giving orders and saying what should be done," said a Havana-based diplomat who asked not to be identified.

"The ministries have returned to their logical role. Raul wants an effective organization," the diplomat said.
The big winner in the shuffle appears to Lage:

One Cuban official who has benefited from the realignment of power is Carlos Lage Davila, a 55-year-old pediatrician who is credited with implementing limited reforms that rescued Cuba's faltering economy in the 1990s.

Diplomats noted that Lage was chosen to give a prominent speech during Fidel Castro's delayed 80th birthday celebrations in December. And last month, Lage - who holds the key position of secretary of the executive committee of the Council of Ministers, a top policymaking body - led a high-level delegation to Venezuela to sign a series of economic accords that farther cemented ties between the two leftist nations.

At the same time, the role of Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque, the 41-year-old former personal secretary of Fidel Castro, has diminished in recent months, analysts say.

Before Fidel Castro's illness, Perez Roque was the second most visible leader in Cuba after the commander-in-chief himself. He often spoke at political rallies and ppeared as Castro's heir apparent.

"He was clearly more prominent than any minister of foreign affairs in any other country," said the Havana-based diplomat. "He was the maximum interpreter of Fidel Castro's ideas. Now, he is just the minister of foreign affairs."

"The government now is institutionally focused," said Daniel Erikson, head of Caribbean programs at the Inter American Dialogue, a Washington policy group. "It's not going to be a cult of the personality."

Cuba watchers have always point to Lage as a face of the future.

Another toted individual was Abel Prieto. I have read and heard stories of his upcoming demise, but he seems to be in with King Raul as evidence in this article

Raul Castro made a surprise appearance Thursday evening at the annual book fair _ an event his 80-year-old brother often attended in past years.

The 75-year-old Raul traded in his typical olive green uniform for a gray jacket over a pair of blue pants for the event at a Spanish fortress across the bay from Havana.Arriving at the opening in a small bus, the younger Castro was accompanied by Culture Minister Abel Prieto.
Of Course not mentiones in any of the MSM articles is the Minister of Information Ramiro Valdes, who many believe is in a power sharing arrangement with Raul.

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