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HavanaJournal.com: Cuba Politics

Raul Castro selected as President of Cuba, Jose Ramon Machado Ventura as VP

Posted February 24, 2008 by publisher in Cuba Politics.
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granma.cu

El General de Ejército Raúl Castro Ruz, fue elegido, por el voto directo y secreto de los diputados que asisten a esta primera sesión de la VII Legislatura de la Asamblea Nacional del Poder Popular, como Presidente de los Consejos de Estado y de Ministros.

Esta histórica sesión del Parlamento también eligió para ocupar el cargo de Primer Vicepresidente a José Ramón Machado Ventura, mientras se desempeñarán como vicepresidentes: Juan Almeida Bosque, Carlos Lage Dávila, Julio Casas Regueiro, Esteban Lazo Hernández y Abelardo Colomé Ibarra. José Miyar Barrueco continuará como secretario de este órgano colegido del poder estatal, que cuenta además con otros 23 miembros.

El Consejo de Estado tiene 13 nuevos integrantes, lo cual representa un 41,9% de renovación.

and via Google translation
The Army General Raul Castro Ruz, was elected by direct secret ballot of the deputies attending the first session of the Seventh Legislature of the National Assembly of People’s Power, as President of the Councils of State and Ministers.

This historic session of Parliament also elected to the post of First Vice President Jose Ramon Machado Ventura, as they serve as vice president Juan Almeida Bosque, Carlos Lage Davila, Julio Casas Regueiro, Esteban Lazo Hernandez and Abelardo Colomé Ibarra. Jose Miyar Barrueco will continue as secretary of this body colegido of state power, which also has 23 other members.

The State Council has 13 new members, which represents a 41.9% renewal.

Member Comments

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On February 24, 2008, nacho wrote:

Machado Ventura was in no one’s predictions. He is practically an unknown to many.

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On February 24, 2008, publisher wrote:

Found this about Machado:

Jose Ramon Machado Ventura is largely seen as Raul Castro’s right-hand man. He is 78 years old and a member of the original Cuban Revolution. Machado was trained as a physician and cared for members of Castro’s rebel army. Machado’s former position of Secretariat charged him with integrating socialist ideology into the every day life of Cuba’s education programs. This position coupled with his historical involvement in the party means that he is known within Cuba but is often overlooked by the foreign press.

Fidel granted Machado leader for all national and international education projects. This was seen by many as an effort to secure the influence of the old guard in any power sharing arrangement in a post-Fidel Cuba.

END

So, seems like Raul needed a very very safe pick as a VP. In other words, Raul is not thinking out of the box so forgot any reforms in Cuba. That’s my opinion.

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On February 24, 2008, nacho wrote:

We never expected anything major but hoped for someone more “pragmatic” who would put the people first ... with old school boys in charge I don’t expect better economic conditions for Cuban people

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On February 24, 2008, nacho wrote:

And Parliament also agree to consult all decisions with Fidel ..... LOL http://www.juventudrebelde.cubasi.cu/cuba/2008-02-24/cuba-aprueban-consultar-las-decisiones-mas-importantes-con-fidel/

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On February 24, 2008, publisher wrote:

Yep. Fidel pulling the strings and Raul trying to put a positive face on it and Machado there in case anything falls through the cracks (meaning Fidel and Raul die).

Another sad day in Cuban history.

I’m very disappointed in Raul. I thought he might actually care about the Cubans but he cares about himself and his military and his travel industry.

Sad. Now we have to wait for Raul to retire or die.

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On February 24, 2008, Cuban American wrote:

Come on Mr. Publisher don’t tell me that this decision actually surprised you.  I think the funniest part is that Raul’s first move as president was to introduce a measure that allows Fidel to rule on ALL major decisions in the future.  So technically we are in the same exact place today as we were yesterday.  Fidel is the boss, Raul is his PR person.  Raul also said that the “Communist Party remains Cuba’s leading force”.  Fidel is still the head of the Communist Party. 

Now I beg someone to try and justify that Cuba has free elections lol

Hopefully all those old bastards die soon and Cuba can make some real progress.

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On February 24, 2008, nacho wrote:

I once said: There’s no Fidel Castro that lasts for 100 years nor Cubans will put up with him. I forgot all about Raul back then wink

No, I am not surprised. I just hoped for the better as all Cubans

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On February 24, 2008, publisher wrote:

The VP surprises me. I expected, perhaps hoped, that Raul might be a little forward thinking bringing in Lage as VP.

Tapping a 78 year old Revolution relic as VP is a step backwards. I think the Cuban people will see it as such and this just might backfire by causing an uproar with the Cubans who want change.

This selection today is a slap in the face of change. So, the question is, how will the Cuban people react and what will they do.

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On February 24, 2008, nacho wrote:

We’re on the same page…. whatever the reaction of the Cuban people is .... nothing will happen will it?

I am off to bed now so unless tanks roll in Havana… nothing will change

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On February 24, 2008, Mako wrote:

Remember the ole song by THE WHO called “Won’t get Fooled Again” ?
The final line of the song “Meet the new Boss, same as the Ole Boss ”

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On February 25, 2008, Cuban American wrote:

The problem is that behind the scenes in a secluded mansion somewhere in Cuba the two old bastards are laughing.  They dooped the world and the MSM yet again.  Its an art that they have mastered.  Raul is NOT a reformer, he does NOT want change.  What he does want is more tourist dollars, so he says a few things and does a few things that make it look like he might make a change, but in the end it never happens.  These so called “Cuba experts” always think that change is going to be stemmed by the regime.  Change CAN happen in Cuba, but the only people who will be responsible for it are the united dissident movements in the island along with the youth of Cuba.  The current leaders of Cuba will never give up there position willingly.

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On February 25, 2008, publisher wrote:

I hate to admit it because my hope has been so strong but you are probably right. Now I know how the Cuban people feel and I don’t even live there. I can only imagine how big the pile of broken dreams is on Cuba.

I do feel duped and very disappointed.

I wonder if Lage knew this was going to happen or was he being prepped for the #1 or #2 spot? Seems like he might have been the #2 guy behind Raul and now he’s #3 with other VPs.

Lastly, so President Bush said that he would not allow for a transfer of power from one dictator to another. Wake up call for President Bush… Good morning, Raul Castro is now President of Cuba.

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On February 25, 2008, publisher wrote:

A couple wrap up stories on the unfortunate events in Cuba:

Cuba maintains status quo as Raul Castro named president by the Los Angeles Times:

Cuba’s parliament signaled Sunday that the status quo of a stunted state-run economy and strained relations with the United States will persist for now as it named Raul Castro to replace his ailing brother Fidel as president and chose another aging revolutionary as the nation’s No. 2 leader.

The selection of Raul Castro, 76, to head the Council of State had been widely predicted, as he stood loyally by his brother’s side throughout a 49-year rule. But the appointment of Jose Ramon Machado, 77, as first vice president surprised Cuba analysts who had expected that a younger candidate would be named to bring change to the country’s ossified power structure.

Raul Castro’s first action as president was to propose, with unanimous endorsement of the parliament, that the 81-year-old Fidel retain an influential role in guiding the country.

and Cuba Under the Other Castro by Business Week:

Cuba’s National Assembly on Feb. 24 selected Raúl Castro, 76, as the new President of Cuba, marking the end of 49 years of leadership by Fidel Castro. The veteran Army general pledged to carry out economic reforms but made it clear that the Caribbean island nation would remain under Communist rule in spite of Washington’s insistence that it embark on a transition to democracy.

The new President, who had served as acting President since Fidel underwent emergency intestinal surgery on July 31, 2006, was selected six days after his ailing 81-year-old brother, who had been one of the world’s longest-ruling leaders, removed his name from consideration for another term, saying that he was “exhausted.”

Raúl said in his acceptance speech that he would continue to consult on important government decisions with Fidel, who he said is “irreplaceable” and who still has “a very clear mind and…capacity to analyze” that are “perfectly intact.” But he said that he intends to carry out sweeping reforms to make the government more efficient, improve salaries, eliminate costly subsidies, and phase out a dual-currency regime that he said had caused distortions in the economy. Such adjustments are necessary, analysts said, to retain popular support for the Communist government as it begins the complicated transition away from Fidel’s long domination of Cuba.

Oscar Espinosa Chepe, a 67-year-old dissident economist who spent nearly two years in prison in 2003 and 2004 for his writings critical of the Cuban government’s economic and political policies, said after hearing the new President’s nationally televised speech that he is “cautiously optimistic that under Raúl, we may see the beginnings of change on the economic front.”

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On February 25, 2008, publisher wrote:

and a couple more from the Economist:

The comandante’s last move:

Fidel Castro has stepped down as president. But the changes that Cubans yearn for will be slow and stealthy while he remains alive.

HALFWAY along Calle Obispo, a long street that links the restored colonial splendours of Old Havana to the crumbling tenements of the 19th-century city, a large red placard shouts its defiance in lime-green lettering in an arresting mixture of Spanish and English. “No hay tregua, compay! You understand: No Truce. Sr Bush: este pueblo no puede ser engañado ni comprado.” (“Mr Bush: this people cannot be deceived nor bought.”)

The placard advertises the museum of the Committees for the Defence of the Revolution (CDRs), the neighbourhood groups set up by Fidel Castro in 1960 to be the grass roots of his revolution, to organise services but also to inform the newly installed Communist-run state of dissent or subversion. The museum contains glass cases of revolutionary memorabilia. On the walls are blown-up extracts from Mr Castro’s speeches, and a chart showing the growth of membership in the CDRs, which in 2007 reached 8.4m of Cuba’s 11m people. The highlight, on the first floor, is a scale model in plaster of a typical Cuban street, the houses fronted with the Greek-revival columns that past sugar wealth bequeathed, the façades painted in turn in shocking pink, lime green, toothpaste blue, peach and lemon.

and

Castro’s Legacy:

Rue the damage he has done. But lift the embargo against a sad, dysfunctional island

HE HAS been the great survivor of world politics. When Fidel Castro marched into Havana in January 1959 at the head of his troop of bearded revolutionaries, Dwight Eisenhower, Harold Macmillan and Nikita Khrushchev were all in power, and the Beatles were yet to come. Ensconced in his Communist-run island, Castro has weathered ten American presidents and their economic embargo against him. He has outlasted by almost two decades the cold war and his former sponsor, the Soviet Union—long enough to benefit from a new era of anti-Americanism in which Hugo Chávez in oil-rich Venezuela has come to his aid. And now, at last, he is stepping down as Cuba’s president, for reasons of age and ill-health, but of his own volition and with what he clearly hopes will be an orderly succession that preserves his revolution.

He will probably be replaced by his brother, Raúl, who has been running the government since Fidel underwent abdominal surgery in July 2006. Raúl Castro has given many signals that he intends to restart reforms that in the mid-1990s introduced some market mechanisms into the sclerotic, centrally planned economy (see article). Yet reform will at first be slow—not least because while Fidel remains alive, he will have something of a veto over change.

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On February 26, 2008, publisher wrote:

This article sums up the Cuban people’s disappointment:

Young Cubans turned off by Castro succession

By Anthony Boadle

HAVANA, Cuba (Reuters): Young Cubans frustrated by a regimented and austere life under socialism see little hope of change under the team of old guard revolutionaries who have taken over following Fidel Castro’s retirement as president.

Seventy percent of Cuba’s 11 million people were born after Castro’s 1959 revolution. The younger ones dream of traveling abroad and want access to the Internet, iPods, trendy clothes, music and films.

Many were disappointed when Raul Castro, a 76-year-old army general, succeeded his ailing brother on Sunday as Cuba’s first new leader in almost half a century, and other elderly communists were appointed top key posts.

“This is a dynastic succession. Everyone is so disappointed,” said Virginia, a teacher who quit her state job earning $19 a month to work as a nanny.

Raul Castro’s appointment as president was no surprise, but the new leadership team is more rigid—and older—than many young Cubans expected, or would like to see.

Jose Ramon Machado Ventura, a 77-year-old hardliner who fought with the Castro brothers in their guerrilla army in the 1950s, was named as Cuba’s new deputy leader.

Carlos Lage, 56, who pushed market reforms in the 1990s and is respected by foreign businessmen, had been expected to take the job but he was passed over.

Young people are tired of poor salaries and food shortages, and feel constrained by a system that offers few opportunities to own nice homes, cars and other consumer goods. Some saw Lage as a leader who might help modernize Cuba.

“It should have been Carlos Lage. He has many good ideas. We should be rejuvenating,” 20-year-old sociology student Maidolys said on Monday as she hitched a ride to classes.

Fidel Castro’s government built up the mythology of his 1959 revolution, celebrating the anniversary of important battles and exhorting people to be like Ernesto “Che” Guevara, the late Argentine guerrilla who fought with the Castros.

But this has diminishing appeal to a younger generation that wants less Che and more Shakira.

“To them, change means not just better living conditions but the opportunity of freedom, the opportunity to live like the rest of the world does,” said Andy Gomez of the Institute for Cuban and Cuban American Studies in Miami.

Even among university students who believe in the socialist system, especially the advances in education and health care, its failings have fueled impatience.

At a town-hall meeting last month, computing students peppered the head of the country’s legislature, Ricardo Alarcon, with uncomfortable questions, including why their access to Google and Yahoo sites was blocked.

One asked why a Cuban must work two or three days to buy a toothbrush.

Raul Castro has fomented debate on the state’s shortcomings and what needs fixing since taking over as acting president when his brother fell ill in July 2006. He has raised hopes of modest economic reforms but will move slowly and also vows to continue communist rule.

In his first speech as president on Sunday, he said he would move to lift some restriction soon but gave no details.

“Raul Castro’s speech ... has not dispelled my doubts,” said Yoani Sanchez, one of the few independent bloggers in Cuba (http://www.desdecuba.com/generaciony/), adding that Raul Castro has not delivered yet on other promises of change.

The 32-year-old philology graduate says her generation saw their parents grow disillusioned with communism when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, causing severe shortages of food and basic goods in Cuba.

“We’re a mixture of pragmatism, disbelief and cynicism that is not a good combination to believe in any ideology,” Sanchez told Reuters on Monday.

In her new blog, she also said she would willingly forfeit the government’s monthly rations of subsidized beans, rice and sugar “for an extended dose of freedom of expression”.

Pichi, a former state driver turned odd-job man, said he did not even listen to Raul Castro’s speech, and instead spent Sunday afternoon tinkering with a fifth-hand Russian-made Lada car. “Everyone is on stand-by here. But I don’t see change in the next 10 years. It’s not easy.”

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On February 28, 2008, Yeyo wrote:

Once again the dictator duped everybody.
You can see Lage’s face when they mentioned that Machado Ventura was the new Vice President.
The same history for a while.

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On March 03, 2008, publisher wrote:

Gee, I thought Fidel came out last week and said that Raul is in charge and then there is this from Reuters:

Fidel Castro may have retired as Cuban president last week after 49 years in power, but he is still calling some shots.

Castro said in an article published on Friday that it was his idea to promote two three-star generals to the country’s top leadership under his younger brother and successor as president, Raul Castro.

They were his first comments since the younger Castro became Cuba’s new president on Sunday and appeared to be aimed at dismissing reports of a rift between the brothers or a militarization of the government under Raul Castro.

Fidel Castro, 81, made clear he retains no formal position in government and said his brother, aged 76, has “all the legal and constitutional power and prerogatives” to run Cuba.

Castro, who has not appeared in public since falling ill 19 month ago, said his brother and successor consulted him on naming hard-line Communist Party ideologue Jose Ramon Machado Ventura as deputy leader as well as other appointments to the governing Council of State.

“It was also my decision to ask the nominating committee to include Leopoldo Cintra Frias and Alvaro Lopez Miera on the list for the Council of State,” Fidel Castro said.

Lopez Miera, 64, is army chief of staff and Cintra Frias, 66, is commander of Cuba’s Western Army.

Both the generals fought in Angola and have been loyal allies of the Castros since joined their guerrilla movement at the age of 15. They were among several key appointments that signalled an increased role of the military in Raul Castro’s governing team.

“The chess board pointed to these alternatives. This was not the fruit of Raul’s supposed militaristic tendencies, nor was it about generations or parties fighting with bared teeth over power,” Castro wrote.

END

Just more “good cop, bad cop” bullshit. What a joke. Fidel says Raul is in charge but Raul says that Fidel will be consulted on decisions.

Fidel Castro MIGHT be done ruling Cuba after he is dead. Might!