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Posted March 02, 2009 by publisher in Castro's Cuba

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In a surprise move, Cuban broadcasters on Monday announced a government restructuring of some of its top officials, including Vice President Carlos Lage and Foreign Minister Felipe Pérez Roque.

They were among the youngest members of a cabinet made up largely of aging revolutionary stalwarts loyal to Raúl Castro.

Lage will be replaced by Gen. José Amado Ricardo Guerra, while deputy foreign minister Bruno Rodríguez will assume Pérez Roque’s post, according to the announcement read on Cuban television as part of the midday newscast.

The reshuffling involves as many as 10 government posts, including Economy Minister José Luis Rodríguez. The announcement was from Cuba’s Council of State, the supreme governing body.

Lage, 57, was one of five vice presidents below Raúl Castro and had served as a de-facto prime minister. He was credited with helping save Cuba’s economy by designing modest economic reforms after the Soviet Union collapsed.

Pérez Roque, 43, was previously personal secretary to Fidel Castro and a former leader of the Communist Party youth organization. He had been foreign minister for almost a decade.

‘‘This is big—and big in the wrong direction,’’ said Andy Gomez, a senior fellow at the University of Miami’s Institute of Cuban and Cuban American Studies.

Read the AP article about the Cuban government shake up here

—————————————- Havana Journal Comments—————————————-

I find it interesting that Perez Roque and Lage were fired or demoted. Lage is a practical economist and I have always found his words to be rational and generally free of the usual “blame the Embargo” type of talk. However, I did get the sense that he and Raul did not get along from Raul’s first days in office.

With regards to Perez Roque… good riddance. He was also a Fidel propagandist and I’m happy to see him go. Of course his deputy might be even more of an sycophant that he was. Then again, in Cuba you go along to get along unfortunately.

Watch CubaPolidata for updates. I always turn to them for anything related to the Cuban government.


  1. Follow up post #1 added on March 02, 2009 by Cubaking with 33 total posts

    Rob you read this one correct….

    Lage I know and he has been seemingly frustrated, still a surprise and a great loss. Someone told me he had a health issure too.. dunno for sure.  PR is a definate hot head and you are right there too… especially with Uncle Sam busting a move, he is a liability.

    My Cuba books are found here Havana: My Kind of Town and Nature’s Ancient Religion

  2. Follow up post #2 added on March 02, 2009 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Here is the AFP article on Raul Castro’s new government with more insight.

    Does this mean Fidel is dead?

    Seriously, either Raul is doing this because Fidel is dead or because he doesn’t care anymore about what Fidel says.

    Again, we wait.

    Cuba consulting services

  3. Follow up post #3 added on March 02, 2009 by grant

    Raul is placing people who act independently as his ministers while Fidel always had his oar in and his ministers were more like vice ministers. This has been in the works for one year now.

  4. Follow up post #4 added on March 02, 2009 by pipefitter

    I think it is a bit strongly worded to say Lage was fired. He was replaced in one of his positions but he is still a vice president in the council of state and as far as we know sort of defacto president. It could be that he was trying to cover too many bases at once and as Raul said before he is spreading the work load around. It looks like Raul is moving more of his own boys into position now. I know that one of his trusted people, Jose Luis Sierra Cruz, got promoted into the council of ministers a few days ago while keeping his position as minister of transport, the others I don’t know. As for Roque, who cares.

  5. Follow up post #5 added on March 02, 2009 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Right. I guess Lage hasn’t been fired but he has not been in the news much for over a year now. I have a google news alert set up for him and I hardly ever get any alerts with his name on it.

    Also, not much being heard from Ricardo Alarcon either for a long time… since he held that “town hall” meeting with the college students who were pissed off at the Cuban government.

    I’ve given up making predictions but I’m curious to hear other people’s thoughts on what this means.

    Cuba consulting services

  6. Follow up post #6 added on March 03, 2009 by nacho with 111 total posts

    On the day I take my eyes off the news, all this happens! Exciting times! wink

    Publisher you’re right on, Lage will be missed, probably the only one, but he will still be around in government. His post now taken over by a general…. not sure how I like that.

    Again, Raul is placing his own boys in position…. will all this be related to the possibility of a change in US policy towards Cuba? Maybe.

    Alarcon became a liability since the UCI debacle became public, I have it on my cellphone and play it to everyone.

  7. Follow up post #7 added on March 03, 2009 by Yeyo with 411 total posts

    Nobody should be missing any of them, nor even Lage.
    Lage was simply a yes man. A guy known among the government enterprises executives for his stupidity.
    Hi visited once a large company in Havana and gave a speech praising the company latest results and hard work. The company had recently double the production and was making huge profits against all earlier predictions. Still Lage says that while most of the good results were related to the good work of the management leaded by the company president, the company president was not worthy and had to be replaced, simply because he has bought a new car with air conditioning on it.
    That’s only an example of this guy stupidity.
    Unfortunately the new guys on the block are as stupid as him or even more.
    With regard to all this changes, at the end of the day is only about power. Raul is basically covering all the bases with people loyal to him. That has nothing to do with trying to give a good face to US.

  8. Follow up post #8 added on March 03, 2009 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Agree. I don’t see how this has anything to do with approaching the US.

    So far, Cuba really has done little to “unclench it’s fist” so Obama can “offer an open hand”.

    We all know that Fidel and Raul want and need the Embargo to stay in place so maybe this is positioning for a fight so Obama doesn’t get any ideas about opening up Cuba.

    I just hope Obama doesn’t listen to Fidel, Raul, Senator Menendez or the three idiots Congresspeople from Miami. If he listens to any one of them he won’t change Cuba policy.

    Maybe he will realize that Menedez and the Miami Congresspeople NEED Fidel and Raul in power so they can stay in power.  Think about the money their constituents would loose and then of course the campaign financing they would loose if Fidel and Raul were not in power.

    I wonder if Obama realizes this.

    Cuba consulting services

  9. Follow up post #9 added on March 03, 2009 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    excerpted from Jaime Suchlicki email

    Power is firmly in the hands of Raul and his military cohorts. Succession is now complete with the recent changes announced yesterday by Raul. He changed eight ministers; merged some ministries and removed two men closely associated with the Fidel Castro era; Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque and Cabinet Secretary Carlos Lage. Although Lage remains as Vice President of the Council of State, his star has been on the decline since last year when he was bypassed as first Vice-President by Ramon Machado Ventura. No new job was announced for Perez Roque. Lage was replaced as Cabinet Secretary by Brigadier General Jose Amado Ricardo Guerra. The new Minister of Foreign Relations is Bruno Rodriguez, former Cuban Ambassador to the U.N.

    The announced changes can be explained by resorting to three “isms:” Raulism, militarism and economism. The new leadership is fiercely loyal to Raul; they are “his” men. It seems to indicate that Raul wanted to put his imprimatur on his regime and assure that the Raulista era began in earnest. In a “reflexion” published today in Granma, Cuba’s official newspaper, Fidel supported his brother’s actions, explained that he was consulted and emphasized that those replaced were not originally proposed by him.

    The militarization of society has continued unabated for the past several years. The rise of more military figures to the top echelon of the Cuban government emphasizes and expands that trend. Raul trusts the military to ensure discipline, efficiency and productivity in the Cuban economy and to reduce rampant corruption.

    Producing enough food for the population has become a priority for the Raul regime. Concerned about increasing disillusionment and unhappiness among the Cuban people, particularly the young, Raul is focusing on increasing food production. The changes he introduced six months ago, allowing farmers to borrow land from the state for food production, the appointment last month of General Ulises Rosales del Toro as Minister of Agriculture and the recent changes, all point toward the urgency to increase food production.

    Faced with a decline in the price of nickel, Cuba’s main export; a possible decline in tourism, given the international economic situation; and the uncertain reliability of Venezuela’s enormous economic support for Cuba, Raul is battening down the hatches, centralizing control and turning to his military to navigate the difficult times ahead.

    Cuba consulting services

  10. Follow up post #10 added on March 03, 2009 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    From AP

    Fidel Castro said Tuesday he was consulted on the sweeping leadership changes by his brother Raul’s government and that two of the ousted officials had been seduced by “the honey of power.”

    The article published on a government Web site gave the first official hint of why at least two powerful officials were removed in the abrupt shakeup — Cuba’s largest in decades.

    The move was widely seen as Raul Castro putting his personal stamp on the government he inherited from Fidel Castro a year ago. But the elder brother wrote that he had been consulted about the changes and said the “two most mentioned” had been seduced by “the honey of power.”

    Though he did not name them, press accounts focused on the removal of Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque and the removal of Vice President Carlos Lage from his post as Cabinet secretary. Twenty other officials shifted, removed or promoted.

    Castro did not describe what offenses the men might have committed, but said their dismissal “was absolutely not for a lack of personal valor.”

    “There was another reason. The honey of power, for which they had not sacrificed at all, awoke in them ambitions that led to an undignified role,” he wrote.

    Castro also dismissed suggestions that the changes showed a shift from “‘Fidel’s men’ to ‘Raul’s men.’”

    “The new ministers who were just named were consulted with me, even though there was no law requiring those who named them to do that,” Castro wrote.


    Fidel does not like competition.

    Cuba consulting services

  11. Follow up post #11 added on March 03, 2009 by pipefitter

    Sorry Yeyo, but I don’t believe Lage is stupid. I believe he was somewhat responsible for some of the small reforms that have taken place in Cuba. By leaving Lage in the upper governing body, (council of state) could one read this as still giving him a hand in steering the direction of Cuban government policy? He was removed from the lower body only as far as we can tell.

  12. Follow up post #12 added on March 03, 2009 by pipefitter

    According to wikapedia, it seems to have all of the latest Raul moves in it’s lists of gov. people , Lage is still one of the 5 VP on the council of state. It says that it consists of:- the pres., sec., 1st vp, 5 vp’s of which Lage is one and 27 other members of different Cuban organizations. It is responsible for running things when the 600 some odd reps are not in session. It also says that the pres., sec., 1st vp, and the 5 vp’s are also members of the council of ministers. So what does that realy mean for Lage? He still seems to be right in there.

  13. Follow up post #13 added on March 04, 2009 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Does anyone think that maybe all these people were fired or demoted because they were aligning to form a coup to take over the Cuban government?

    Do you think the US may have enticed some of these people to organize to take over the Cuban government?

    I know this is a long shot and a big conspiracy theory but wouldn’t that be interesting in Roque and Lage took over the Cuban government?

    WOW. That would be big news.

    Cuba consulting services

  14. Follow up post #14 added on March 04, 2009 by nacho with 111 total posts

    Mmmm a Roque-Lage dalliance does not seem likely, but that’s just me.

    However, there are always conspiracies in the upper echelons of the Cuban goverment. Does anyone remember how Roque’s predecessor fell from grace?

  15. Follow up post #15 added on March 04, 2009 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Roberto Robania or something like that.

    Same type of deal if I remember right.

    He just got the word one day that he was fired, never to be heard from again.

    I’m sure the Cuban government is always testing everyone telling them things like Fidel is dead or “How about you and I get together” just to see how people react. When they react the wrong way, they are fired.

    Cuba consulting services

  16. Follow up post #16 added on March 04, 2009 by nacho with 111 total posts

    Of course, that strategy is not unheard of.

    Roberto Robaina, the same one, according to what I heard at the time it was corruption. His wife/him were linked to cocaine dealings and a high class prostitution ring in Havana, but that’s Radio Bemba.

    Someone sent me a picture of him selling paintings in the streets.

  17. Follow up post #17 added on March 04, 2009 by Yeyo with 411 total posts

    Pipefitter: Lage as most of the high end Cuban Officials are only stupid yes men that arrived to those positions not because their intelligence and organizational skills but because their power to scream higher “si Fidel”. Thi is a fact that you can confirm speaking to any of the people that were somehow close to them in Cuba and have now deserted to other Countries. That’s the same merit of Perez Roque.
    Perez Roque actually jumped to the national scene during one of the multiple political demonstrations organized every year by the government in Cuba. Year 1985, at that time he was the president of the FEU (Students organization) of his college (CUJAE). Suddenly Fidel arrives and Perez Roque starts yelling like crazy. I was there and remember people asking if he was mad or what. He may have been crazy for most of the people that were there but for Fidel Castro he became an excellent asset to be used as he wished and only as long as he wished as proved now.
    The reason why not only Lage is still a VP of the state council but also Perez Roque is also still a member is because the State Council is elected by the National Assembly so they would have to wait until the next National Assembly session to remove them from there.
    I’m almost sure that they both would be removed on from the State Council on the next session of the National Assembly.
    In Cuba my friend, once you go down there is no bottom and is all the way to the so called “plan pijama”.
    In my opinion as I indicated earlier the whole issue is associated with Raul trying to reinforce his power on all the different corners of the country.
    Lage and Perez Roque (as was Robaina years ago) were both well mentioned as possible replacements of Fidel and that’s something that Raul would not tolerate. More importantly the US had mentioned earlier that they would not negotiate with a Castro (Fidel or Raul) government but even the Cuban American community commenced to see with good eyes the possibility of Lage nominated to replace Fidel and leading the country.
    At that level the State Security have all their houses and phones bugged and in addition to the above they may have perpetrated the “big mistake” of commenting with friends or acquaintances that they were being considered for the post.  That’s obviously a huge honor anywhere in the world but not in Cuba.

  18. Follow up post #18 added on March 04, 2009 by grant

    It may mean that Lage and Roque were taking too much in perks of their positions in their high places in government. Remember Luis Gomez and his trips abroad? Although Luis told me that they were all OKED by Fidel.

    When ordinary cubans are being asked to do with less, it is not appropriate for government ministers to abuse their powers.

  19. Follow up post #19 added on March 04, 2009 by grant

    No need for” fantasias” in explanations as some would do(see above), Cuba needs to run a lean and mean government with the economy as it is in the world. Lage was a medical doctor and not an economist I believe.

  20. Follow up post #20 added on March 04, 2009 by grant

    Robaina made the mistake of committing Cuba to a plan in central america without the OK of Fidel. Ministers with Fidel were really vice ministers with Fidel in charge. Robaina was given another position.

  21. Follow up post #21 added on March 04, 2009 by Cubaking with 33 total posts

    Yeyo, You must be one heck of an educated man to call Lage “stupid”  You seem to be so well informed ( LOL)  Why don’t you look up Mr. Lage’s educational credentials ? The man is an MD, economist, recognized expert on a number of subjects.

        Now you can flap at me as a commie or whatever, but when I see clucking of the magnitude you are lecturing us with I expect at least fairness. Or you risk being labeled as a biased right wing unbalanced myopic Cuban American. ( AKA Miami Mafia).

        Perhaps you have noted accomplishments to your credit of an academic nature and you really can label someone with as much education as Mr. Lage as “stupid” Yet I don’t know of those. For us simple folks like me with only a PHD, JD. and two MBA’s Mr. Lage seems quite educated.

    My Cuba books are found here Havana: My Kind of Town and Nature’s Ancient Religion

  22. Follow up post #22 added on March 04, 2009 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    I always liked Lage because he was educated and rational.

    I was hoping Raul would step aside and let Lage be President but that ain’t gonna happen.

    Cuba consulting services

  23. Follow up post #23 added on March 04, 2009 by abh with 244 total posts

    I just saw this article in spanish on “cuba encuentro” and it says that there were “Lage for President” signs popping up in Santiago. 


  24. Follow up post #24 added on March 04, 2009 by pipefitter

    Oh man, Raul must feel realy unsecure If it only took a couple of signs in satiago to do in a good man. So what happened with Roque? Was he playing president too eagerly for Raul when he was in Russia?

  25. Follow up post #25 added on March 05, 2009 by Yeyo with 411 total posts


    I was giving my personal impression when I said that Lage and Perez Roque were both stupid yes men. If that means that I now belong to the Miami Mafia, just tell me where I can find the Godfather?

    You asked: Why don’t you look up Mr. Lage’s educational credentials? The man is an MD, economist, recognized expert on a number of subjects.

    Firstly let me tell you that he is not and would not be judged for his MD diploma but for his position of Secretary of the executive comity of the ministers council. He may have been the best MD which he wasn’t but that would not matter because he all his relevance was related to his economical and political position.

    Now, since you are so well educated and informed (LOL) can you please mention one of the subjects in which you say that Lage is an expert, only one please??

    Ok let’s look at that:
    Lage was a MD that never practiced. I know from people that were on his medical school class that he wasn’t among the top 50 %. Obviously that would not classify him immediately as ‘stupid’ but kind of difficult to understand that a guy that is not among the 50% top of his class would go to lead the Economy of a country. In top of that keep in mind that he finished the medical school already being a political leader so some of his marks may have been looked after.

    Economist? Unless you gave him a Diploma, I don’t think he have one.

    Maybe stupid sounds a little bit strong in English, but what I was trying to point was that he knew nothing of economy when he got the job on the first place and the “great economic results obtained during his term” can prove that for them.

    I recognize that he is soft spoken and when you compare him to the rest of on the Cuban government, he looks slightly smarter.

    The fact and the matter is that as a rule of thumb intelligent Cubans can normally climb to mid positions like companies’ general managers and directors but very rarely go higher than that. Most of them would leave the country at one point disillusioned with the system.

    Top positions in the government have always been reserved for people with no brains, no matter their education level, no matter their intelligence and no matter in what situation is the country and the Cuban people, they would always be loyal to Castro. Every bit of logical thinking or having their own ideas is severely punished. They (Lage and Perez Roque) knew it well but may have forgotten temporarily and already paid for it.

    In Cuba my friends the only good ideas are Raul and Fidel’s. Lage can tell you.

  26. Follow up post #26 added on March 05, 2009 by pipefitter

    Yeyo, If you look at the U of Miami Cuban American studies report on Lage it says that he was an excelent student, graduated as a pediateician with no help from anyone in gov., he went to Ethiopia and worked on a medical mission Before he worked for Fidel, he was attacked for his progressive views by gov. members. When he was working for Fidel, he was a supporter of Robaina and he was responsible for many of the reforms in the special period aimed at the model of a mixed economy and social democratization and believed it was a must for Cuba’s survival. Fidel quashed many of his ideas.  The one obstacle to this was Fidel as you can’t defy or challenge him. Lage can be percieved as an advocate of change and a grass roots listener. It says that although he was an MD by profession it is recognized by Cuban and International economists that he has become an able and qualified expert in the field of Cuban and International economics. Lage relied heavily on Francisco (Pancho) Soberon the most respected and contraversial Cuban official in the field of economics amoung EU, Japan, and Latin American sources. He has also performed as an excelent negotiator with EU countries, Japan and several Latin American countries.
    Hardly a stupid man I would say!

  27. Follow up post #27 added on March 05, 2009 by abh with 244 total posts

    Some very interesting articles:

    The first one lets us know that Lage and Perez Roque have resigned, this is similar to what Yeyo predicted I guess.


    The second one is very interesting, as it spins Raul’s move as positive for the future of US/Cuba relations.


  28. Follow up post #28 added on March 06, 2009 by Cubaking with 33 total posts

    Yeyo,  I will just leave it ( for now) with Pipefitter’s citing of the U of M’s opinions….. Of course according to your criteria that may not be sufficient…...


    “The fact and the matter is that as a rule of thumb intelligent Cubans can normally climb to mid positions like companies’ general managers and directors but very rarely go higher than that.”

    I guess you feel all the smart Cubans have already left the forbidden island then? Personally, I never shoot from the him with “rule of thumb”, stereotypes, typecasting or ethnic generalizations.

    Maybe I just see the glass half full and you see it half empty. I think that few things are absloute, and frankly Cuba has many positive things to build on starting with its most precious resource, the Cuban people. Bush also had a bunch of yes men surrounding him ( as did Batista, and just about every puppet president for that matter).

        Let me finish with a note on criticism. The best has balance, what we call constructive. Without balance there is no credibility. For me I like to think I am a builder not a destroyer. It is very easy to destroy, yet few things are all bad or all good. Perhaps it is just this thread, that has brought out the “all or nothing” in your responses, or perhaps I have just not seen the balance. I can’t imagine you spending all this time here if you did not care or thought Cuba was a lost cause. Let me ask one question. If Cuba was as democratic as the US where would you live in the US or Cuba?

    My Cuba books are found here Havana: My Kind of Town and Nature’s Ancient Religion

  29. Follow up post #29 added on March 07, 2009 by Yeyo with 411 total posts

    Pipefitter and Cubaking,

    Let me begin by saying that is not my intention to criticize anybody for his/her opinions. My earlier posts were strictly my personal opinions based on my experiences and impressions. You may disagree and I would respect that.
    When Lage finished the medical school, prior to completing the specialty, he was already an official student leader. In Cuba, leaders of the youth, student or worker organizations are not elected. The University of Miami probably would know that too. You make your own conclusions.

    He went to Etiopia because he was being groomed to take higher positions within the political nomenclature. That’s also very common in Cuba and you would see that most of the members in the Political Bureau had expended time at one point either in Etiopia or Angola or both.

    You say that he was attacked by other government officials for his progressive views. In my opinion it was all the opposite, he came to have so much power and positions because he was seen as somebody with fairly conservative views, somebody that always agreed with Fidel. That may be considered progressive depending how you want to look at it.

    He was mentioned as very modest and with no ambitions for material things. I feel that he worked hard to keep that image of “revolutionary values” about himself. Probably because of that he lasted that long.

    When Robaina came into the show, Lage was already a member of the Political Bureau and VP of the Ministers and State Councils. Robaina was his subordinate.  If you say that Lage supported Robaina, you can also say that Fidel and the others did too. But that I recall Lage also say yes when Robaina was booted.

    Quote: “ he (Lage) was responsible for many of the reforms in the special period aimed at the model of a mixed economy and social democratization and believed it was a must for Cuba’s survival. Fidel quashed many of his ideas.”
    He was in charge of the Economy for a long time, and also in times when some changes were made to allow foreign investments. In my opinion from the 70’s until now the Economy have move from bad to worst. The only difference is that there was some revival lately due to Venezuela, foreign investment and tourism. However nobody says anything about Cuba going from one of the first world exporters of sugar to have to buy sugar from US. If you travel around the country you would see thousands of factories closed, thousands of equipments and machinery scrapped, thousands of Cubans that lost their jobs before, during and after the special period.

    I do not believe that he was a must for Cuba’s survival, and in fact I feel that there were many people more intelligent and much better prepared than him (real Economists) that may have done a better job. Obviously we would never know.

    I also know that he was not the only responsible and certainly not the main, that honor would be always reserved for Fidel Castro. But certainly Lage was always there to agree with him.

    Regarding to Cubaking comments:
    I did not imply that all the smart Cubans have left Cuba, I know that there are many very very smart people still there. However a number of them are looking for ways of leaving and only few genuinely want to stay for different reasons that would be to long to discuss at this time. That have nothing to do with stereotypes, typecasting or ethnic generalizations, is simply a fact.

    I also see the glass half full and agree that Cuba have many positives things starting with the Cuban people. That’s why I’m very optimist about the future.
    You mention balance: You feel that your comments are balanced? Your opinions are balanced? I don’ think so and probably many other readers would agree with me.

    My posts are not “all or nothing” but about what I perceive as the true. Which by the way I feel that is very constructive.  I do not know where you get this idea that I want to destroy anything.  You certainly should read my posts in earlier threads to see and understand my points of views.

    I obviously care intensively about Cuba. I’m a proud Cuban, born and raised in Cuba.  However I also have my own ideas, like you of what may or may not be good for the country.

    For instance breaking with your stereotypical comment, while I feel that Lage was not the best man for the job, I’m also against the embargo, not for the reasons that many argue (destroying the economy etc..) but because it constitute an instrument that helps the Castros perpetuate in power. Moreover the embargo does not work and have never worked, so why keep it in place?

    Responding your question:  If Cuba was as democratic as the US where would you live in the US or Cuba? Without thinking about it I would tell you in Cuba, nothing wrong with the US, but Cuba is my birthplace, mi Patria. 
    But I do not live in the US.

  30. Follow up post #30 added on March 07, 2009 by Cubaking with 33 total posts

    Hi Yeyo, I am glad we have that squared away. LOL. My take on the sugar is this. Plummeting world prices, The beet is cheaper and has better yield, refinement plants are in a poor state, Hurricanes.. etc.. why bother?

    I still think Lage is a sharp fellow, so we will agree to disagree. I will look for your posts and you are correct that often here we get button holed in one thread, it happens to me and I frankly should know better.

    Have a gr8 weekend !

    My Cuba books are found here Havana: My Kind of Town and Nature’s Ancient Religion

  31. Follow up post #31 added on March 08, 2009 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Here’s an article in the Miami Herald speculating that the government shake up was done in order to “halt Cuba’s economic free fall”

    Cuba consulting services

  32. Follow up post #32 added on March 08, 2009 by abh with 244 total posts

    Very interesting article.
    It always seems to me that on a basic level, the majority of reporting about the Cuban government is speculation.
    However, from the limited amount that I know about how things work in Cuba, it makes sense that Raul would keep his military men close by.  Not only for security, but keep in mind the military runs the most successful parts of the Cuban economy.  It does seem logical that with Raul’s military background and relative success with handling business matters, he would focus attention on improving efficiency.  I wish him well in the sense that the Cuban people are sincerely struggling on a mass level, but I am also naturally skeptical and suspicious of the military’s influence in the marketplace.  The concept of “islands of capitalism” that Fidel conceded to in the Special Period always must have bothered him because of the inherent contradictions.  Now, almost 20 years later, the military people, from top to bottom, are involved in a business that drives the entire country’s economy and, in my opinion, is dirty and corrupt in many ways.  When I see people in Cuba who are connected with the military I have to admit that I have noticed friends viewing them with suspicion and I also sometimes find myself with the same reaction.  There is just something strange about a communist loyalist who has some hustle on the side.  But maybe these concerns are no longer at the forefront as Cuba looks at approaching 20 years of the Special Period and economically the country is hardly better off now then when the USSR collapsed. 
    It seems like a good time to start chipping away at the embargo…no?

  33. Follow up post #33 added on March 08, 2009 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    The Fifth Summit of the Americas is coming up in April and President Obama is expected to attend.

    Perhaps he will make some positive steps towards easing the travel restrictions on Americans before he goes to Trinidad for the event.

    Cuba consulting services

  34. Follow up post #34 added on March 08, 2009 by abh with 244 total posts

    This is definitely the next event on the agenda for Cuban-Watchers.  No doubt about it.  As always, set your expectations low so as to avoid possible dissapointment grin

  35. Follow up post #35 added on March 08, 2009 by abh with 244 total posts

    that was supposed to be a wink but you get the point

  36. Follow up post #36 added on March 13, 2009 by Yeyo with 411 total posts

    Take a look at this excelent article by Carlos Alberto Montaner:

    Raúl Castro, or the art of decapitating adversaries

    Carlos Alberto Montaner

    In the Nineties, it was said that Dr. Carlos Lage would lead the transition in Cuba. The first vice president was a tranquil and polite man in the midst of a usually frenetic tribe beset by a machismo forever on the edge of orchitis. I heard Carlos Salinas de Gortari say it, when he was president, along with half a dozen foreign ministers and chiefs of state: “Lage is the future.”

    At that time, the Soviet Union gone, Cuban communism teetered. It appears that when Lage talked with foreign politicians in private, he flirted with democratic ideas and sold himself as the Caribbean Adolfo Suárez.

    At the start of the 21st Century, the role of the Dauphin was played by Foreign Minister Felipe Pérez Roque, an engineer who (like Lage) came from Fidel Castro’s entourage. He had been a sort of first assistant to the Comandante in Chief, so when Foreign Minister Roberto Robaina was expelled from his post, Fidel himself anointed Pérez Roque as a substitute because “he was the person who best interpreted his thinking.” Pérez Roque’s apotheosis came in December 2005: he delivered a master class before Parliament and everybody, including the Financial Times, declared him heir to the throne. At that moment, he had the reputation of being a hard and inflexible “Taliban.”

    A few months later, in July 2006, Fidel Castro fell ill and had to leave the government precipitously. With the arrival of Raúl to the presidency, both Lage and Pérez Roque were discreetly sidelined. The two were cadres selected by Fidel for a hypothetical political succession, but Raúl did not trust them and had his own ideas about how and with whom to organize an economic reform and the transmission of authority. So, Raúl followed the same serpentine pattern of behavior used against Gen. Ochoa in 1989: he asked Gen. Abelardo Colomé Ibarra, his soul brother and ultra powerful Minister of the Interior, to draw up a good set of charges to remove them from the game in a flash, along with the other pesky functionaries he wanted to eliminate.

    And that’s what happened. Cuba’s formidable espionage apparatus has accumulated proof of petty corruption, continuous nepotism, negligence, counter-revolutionary behavior by relatives, personal ambition and (most grave) conveying to foreign politicians and visitors false expectations regarding purported political changes. Pérez Roque, who in the opinion of many foreign politicians and diplomats had been a Taliban in the early days, had turned into a “reformer.” So thought Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Ángel Moratinos, a man stubbornly prone to erroneousness, who was betting on Pérez Roque for the transition, more or less the way the previous Spanish Foreign Minister, Abel Matutes, had said “the man of change” would be Roberto Robaina. That comment was utilized by “the apparatus” to deep-six Robaina once and forever.

    Once the two targets had been duly “set up,” and armed with voluminous reports from the intelligence services, Raúl Castro, an expert in the art of decapitating adversaries, began his methodical task as executioner. He easily convinced Fidel of the basic disloyalty of the subjects, summoned the Political Bureau, confronted the accused with proof of their “immoral and miserable” behavior, crushed them emotionally, warning them that their deeds bordered on treason, for which they deserved to be executed (if the Revolution weren’t so generous), and prepared the conditions for a public announcement. This time, however, he had to perform a bothersome task: it was necessary to explain to dimwit Hugo Chávez what was going to happen, because Lage and Pérez Roque were his favorite interlocutors and it wouldn’t be fair to surprise him with their elimination. Insufferable though the Venezuelan may be, he is the man who feeds Cuba and must be treated like a fine parrot.

    With these and other personages hors de combat (including Fernando Remírez de Estenoz, another white hope of the democratic foreign ministries who was liquidated in the purge), Raúl feels that he has cleared the way to the Sixth Party Congress, due in the fall, at which he will arrive with all his trusted people in key positions, so nothing may escape his control. Meanwhile, total despondency spreads through the revolutionary ranks and any illusion of change vanishes. Silvio Rodríguez is going to live in Argentina, where there are no blue unicorns (the Peronists may have eaten them), Pablo Milanés is definitely settling in Galicia, and the children and grandchildren of the nomenklatura are stealthily departing for any place where there’s a hint of a better life. In Cuba everybody knows that that’s impossible.

    March 12, 2009

    his excelent article by

  37. Follow up post #37 added on April 12, 2009 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Thanks to Yeyo for the tip on this story.

    Here’s a good summary of the Perez Roque and Lage situation.

    In Cuba, Change Means More of the Same, With Control at the Top

    Cuba consulting services

  38. Follow up post #38 added on April 12, 2009 by abh with 244 total posts

    Very interesting.
    Pretty funny that these powerful men were taken down by some chibaton.  Verdad que hay que watch what you say en Cuba.

  39. Follow up post #39 added on April 12, 2009 by paul

    I hope that they defect like other Cuban leadership in the past, and spill the frijoles negros about secrets inside of the Cuban govt.

  40. Follow up post #40 added on April 12, 2009 by abh with 244 total posts

    lo dudo mucho oiste

  41. Follow up post #41 added on April 12, 2009 by pipefitter with 275 total posts

    El permite un solo Capitan verdad? And I thought Raul did’t realy want to be “El Jefe”

  42. Follow up post #42 added on April 13, 2009 by paul


    Estoy de acuerdo…seguiran siendo leales como una puta y su jinetero.

  43. Follow up post #43 added on October 01, 2009 by John

    Publisher, Has there been any news, info or rumors on the whereabouts of Lage and Roque?

  44. Follow up post #44 added on October 02, 2009 by Yeyo with 411 total posts

    plan pijama

  45. Follow up post #45 added on October 02, 2009 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Roque no. Lage I think so. I remember him being in a news story about teaching somewhere or managing some lower level operation but WAY down from his previous job.

    Now he is just a low level government hack with no future. Sad really.

    Cuba consulting services

  46. Follow up post #46 added on October 02, 2009 by john

    The two most promising(?) candidates for carrying the communist torch after the demise of the Castro brothers are now totally removed. Then question is, who is the next choice? Are they holding a ‘card up the sleeve’? Otherwise, we shall witness a succession of ancient ‘revolutionaries’ in office for a short time before they die, each one destined to fail in their attempts to prolong a decrepid, failed system.

  47. Follow up post #47 added on October 05, 2009 by Cubana with 282 total posts

    “Otherwise, we shall witness a succession of ancient ‘revolutionaries’ in office for a short time before they die, each one destined to fail in their attempts to prolong a decrepid, failed system.”

    You mean just like the Soviet Union after Brezhnev died? Lets hope there’s a Gorbachov in the wings somewhere. Lage was a possible Gorbachev type character but he has been sidelined, at least for the moment. More likely the military will take over after the demise of the Castro brothers. Or maybe Raul is grooming one of his offspring?

  48. Follow up post #48 added on October 05, 2009 by john

    Brezhnev died many years before the collapse of the Soviet system; his successors had no choice, but to continue communism.
    Cuba’s communism has collapsed, and the leadership know it. They are totally reliant on tourism, and other capitalist of forms of income to support the economy, along with charity donations from Venezuela, China and Russia (all have a market economy) We know the Cuban government (Castro) retains most of the money, whilst the average Cuban exists on meagre rations of basic food, and will be jailed instantly for complaining about it.
    Communist Cuban military taking over after a failed communist government?
    Should be interesting.

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