The following are profiles of the six top Cuban officials picked by ailing leader Fidel Castro to assist his brother Raul as provisional president when he delegated power on July 31. They are all members of the Central Committee of the ruling Communist Party.
Vice President Carlos Lage, 55, is a doctor who in 1993 became the chief architect of limited economic reforms that allowed small private businesses and opened Cuba to foreign investment after the demise of Cuba’s benefactor, the Soviet Union. The reforms are credited with saving Cuba from economic collapse.
Cuba watchers see Lage as a possible future president. Castro put him in charge of Cuba’s energy programs, from saving electricity at home to cooperating with other countries, mainly chief oil-supplier Venezuela.
Jose Ramon Machado Ventura, 76, is a hard-line orthodox communist who heads the Central Committee’s organization department. He is responsible for supervising Cuba’s international education programs. He represented Cuba at the inauguration of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega in January.
JOSE RAMON BALAGUER
Jose Ramon Balaguer, 74, is minister of health and an old-guard communist hard-liner. Fidel Castro picked him to run one of his pet projects, Cuba’s international health program, which has sent thousands of Cuban doctors to work in poor countries and trains foreign medical students free of charge.
Esteban Lazo, 62, is an economist who heads the Communist Party’s ideology department and was also put in charge of education programs. Lazo, Cuba’s most powerful black leader, headed Cuba’s delegation to the U.N. General Assembly in September.
Francisco Soberon, 62, is president of Cuba’s Central Bank and the holder of the purse strings to Cuba’s state finances. Castro made him responsible for the funding of the energy, health and education programs, along with Lage.
FELIPE PEREZ ROQUE
Felipe Perez Roque, 41, is Cuba’s boyish-looking foreign minister and Castro’s former chief of staff. He is said to be the ailing leader’s closest aide. Castro made him responsible for the funding of international aid programs along with Soberon and Lage.