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Raúl Castro


Incumbent
Assumed office 
24 February 2008
Acting: 31 July 2006 – 24 February 2008
Vice President First Vice President:
José Ramón Machado Ventura
Other Vice Presidents:
Julio Casas Regueiro
Esteban Lazo
Carlos Lage Dávila
Abelardo Colomé
Preceded by Fidel Castro

In office
2 December 1976 – 24 February 2008
President Fidel Castro
Preceded by Office created
Succeeded by José Machado Ventura

In office
24 February 2008 – 16 July 2009
Acting: 16 September 2006 – 24 February 2008
Preceded by Fidel Castro
Succeeded by Hosni Mubarak

Born 3 June 1931 (1931-06-03) (age 78)
Birán, Cuba
Political party Communist Party
Spouse(s) Vilma Espín (1959–2007)
Children Deborah Castro-Espín
Mariela Castro-Espín
Nilsa Castro-Espín
Alejandro Castro-Espín
Signature

Brigadier-General (retired) Raúl Modesto Castro Ruz[2] (born 3 June 1931) is the President of the Cuban Council of State[3][4] and the President (As Premier) of the Council of Ministers of Cuba. The younger brother of Fidel Castro, he is also Second Secretary of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC), and Commander in Chief (Maximum General) of the Armed Forces (Army, Navy, and Air Force).

On 31 July 2006, Raúl Castro assumed the duties of President of the Council of State in a temporary transfer of power due to Fidel Castro's illness. According to the Cuban Constitution of 1976, Article 94, the First Vice President of the Council of State assumes presidential duties upon the illness or death of the president.

Raúl Castro was elected President at the 24 February 2008 National Assembly as Fidel Castro had announced his intention not to stand for President again on 19 February 2008.[3][5]

Contents

Pre-1959

Son of Galician immigrant Ángel Castro and Lina Ruz, a Cuban woman of Galician ancestry, Raúl is the youngest of the three Castro brothers. He also has four sisters, Angela, Juanita, Enma, and Agustina, and two half siblings, Lidia and Pedro Emilio, who were raised by Ángel Castro's first wife. Persistent rumors supported by former CIA analyst Brian Latell are taken to suggest that Batista army loyalist Felipe Miraval, nicknamed "el Chino" is Raúl's, but not Fidel's, father.[6]

As youngsters, the Castro brothers were expelled from the first school they attended. Like Fidel, Raúl later attended the Jesuit School of Colegio Dolores in Santiago and Colegio Belén in Havana. Raúl, as an undergraduate, studied social sciences. Whereas Fidel excelled as a student, Raúl's performance was mostly mediocre.[7] Raúl was a committed socialist and joined the Socialist Youth, an affiliate of the Soviet-oriented Cuban Communist Party, Partido Socialista Popular (PSP).[8] The brothers participated actively in sometimes violent student actions.[9]

In 1953, Raúl was a member of the 26th of July Movement that attacked the Moncada Barracks, and he spent 22 months in prison as a result of this action.[10] During his exile in Mexico, he participated in the preparations of the expedition of the boat Granma, embarking for Cuba on 2 December 1956.

It was during the period in Mexico that Raúl reportedly befriended Ernesto "Che" Guevara in Mexico City and brought him into Fidel's circle of revolutionaries. Raúl also established contact with Soviet KGB agent Nikolai Leonov, whom he had met two years earlier during a trip to the Soviet-bloc nations. That relationship would persist until the Castro brothers successfully assumed power in Cuba.[8]

A Commander in the Cuban Revolution

Raúl Castro (left), with his arm around second-in-command, Ernesto "Che" Guevara, in their Sierra de Cristal Mountain stronghold in Oriente Province Cuba, 1958.

Raúl was one of the few survivors of the Granma landing. He was part of the tiny group of survivors who managed to reach a safe haven in the Sierra Maestra mountains (see the Cuban Revolution). As Fidel's brother and trusted right-hand man, and given his proven leadership abilities during and after the Moncada attack, he was given progressively bigger commands. On February 27, 1958, Raúl was made comandante and assigned the mission to cross the old province of Oriente leading a column of guerrillas to open, to the northeast of that territory, the "Frank País Eastern Front."

As a result of Raúl's "Eastern Front" operations he was not involved in the pivotal Operation Verano (which came close to destroying the main body of fighters but ended up a spectacular victory for Fidel). However, Raúl's forces remained active and grew over time.

By October 1958, after being reinforced by Fidel, the two brothers had about 2,000 fighters and they were operating freely throughout Oriente province. In December, while Che Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos were operating around Santa Clara, Fidel and Raúl's army laid siege to Maffo (capturing it on December 30). Their victorious army then headed to Santiago de Cuba, the capital of Oriente province.

In response to the victory by Che Guevara at the Battle of Santa Clara, the U.S.-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista fled Cuba in the early morning of 1 January 1959.[11] The two Castro brothers with their army arrived on the outskirts of Santiago de Cuba and said their forces would storm the city at 6 PM January 1 if it did not first surrender. The commander (Colonel Rego Rubido) surrendered Santiago de Cuba without a fight. The war was over and Fidel was able to take power in Havana when he arrived on 8 January 1959.

Raúl's abilities as a military leader during the revolution are hard to see clearly. Unlike Che Guevara or Cienfuegos, Raúl had no significant victories he could claim credit for on his own. The last operations (which were clearly successful) were conducted with his older brother Fidel present (and in command).[12]

After Batista's fall, Raúl was responsible for overseeing the summary execution of "scores" of soldiers loyal to deposed president Fulgencio Batista.[13]

Post-1959

Raúl Castro Ruz was a member of the National Leadership of the Integrated Revolutionary PO Organizations (established July 1961; dissolved March 1962) and of the United Party of the Socialist Revolution of Cuba (established March 1962; dissolved October 1965). He has been a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba and the Second Secretary of its Politburo since the Party's formation in October 1965; also, the First Vice President of the Cuban Council of State, of the National Assembly of the Popular Power and of the Council of Ministers since these were created in 1976. He was appointed Minister of the Revolutionary Armed Forces when the Ministry was founded in October 1959 and served in that capacity until February 2008; he is also the nation's highest ranking general.

Assumption of presidential duties

On 31 July 2006, Fidel Castro's personal secretary Carlos Valenciaga announced on state-run television that Fidel Castro would provisionally hand over the duties of President of the Council of State of Cuba, First Secretary of the Communist Party and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces to Raúl Castro while Fidel underwent and recovered from intestinal surgery to repair gastrointestinal bleeding.[14][15]

Many commentators consider Raúl Castro to be a political hardliner who will maintain the Communist Party of Cuba's political power at all costs. However, there are others who believe that he is more pragmatic than his older brother and more willing to institute free market-oriented economic policies. It is speculated that he favours a variant of the current Chinese political and economic model for Cuba in the hopes of preserving some elements of the socialist system.[13] However, none of these speculations has ever been confirmed by Raúl himself.

Several commentators, including some writers on the The Wall Street Journal, call Castro "uncharismatic and widely feared," with a "cold efficien[t]" style. He is accused of the persecution of dissidents and homosexuals.[7] (Policies of discrimination against homosexuals have been reversed in recent years.[citation needed]) Additionally, some have speculated about Raúl's ill health, specifically alcoholism, raising doubts about his future leadership.[16]

Raúl, considered much less charismatic than his brother Fidel Castro, has remained largely out of public view during the transfer of duty period.[17] His few public appearances included hosting a gathering of leaders of the Non-Aligned nations in September 2006, and leading the national commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Granma boat landing, which also became Fidel's belated 80th birthday celebrations.[18][19][20]

In a speech to university students, Raúl stated that a communist system in Cuba would remain, and that "Fidel is irreplaceable, unless we all replace him together."[21]

On 1 May 2007, Raúl presided over the May Day celebrations in Havana. According to Granma the crowd reached over one million participants, with delegations from over 225 organizations and 52 countries.[22]

While Fidel Castro historically mesmerized his countrymen with dramatic, extemporaneous speeches stretching over hours, brother Raúl is known for his businesslike, unanimated delivery, rarely bothering to look up from prepared texts. So Raúl offers, after the resignation of his brother Fidel, announced 19 February 2008, a quieter Castro voice.[23]

On 24 February 2008, the National Assembly elected Raúl president of Cuba. Raúl delivered his inaugural address shortly afterward.[24]

President of Cuba

Since assuming the presidency in February 2008, Raúl Castro's government has announced several economic reforms. In March 2008, the government removed restrictions against the purchase of numerous products not available under Fidel Castro's government including DVD-players, computers, rice cookers, and microwaves.[25] In an effort to boost food production, the government turned over unused state-owned land to private farmers and cooperatives and moved much of the decision-making process regarding land use from the national level to the municipal level.[26]

In mid-2008, the government overhauled the salary structure of all state-run companies so that harder-working employees could be rewarded with higher wages.[27] In addition, the government has removed restrictions against the use of cell phones and is investigating loosening travel restrictions on Cubans.[25]

In March 2009, Raúl Castro dismissed some officials.

Public and personal life

Castro married Vilma Espín Guillois, a former Massachusetts Institute of Technology chemical engineering student and the daughter of a wealthy rum distiller, on 26 January 1959.[28] Vilma became president of the Cuban Federation of Women.[29] They have three daughters (Déborah, Mariela and Nilsa) and one son (Alejandro) Castro Espín.[30] Their daughter Mariela currently heads the Cuban National Center for Sex Education. Vilma Espín died on 18 June 2007; a daughter and some relatives of Raúl are believed to reside in Italy.

In an interview in 2006, following his assumption of presidential duties, Raúl Castro commented on his public profile stating: "I am not used to making frequent appearances in public, except at times when it is required ... I have always been discreet, that is my way, and in passing I will clarify that I am thinking of continuing in that way".[31]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ "CIA - The World Factbook - Cuba". cia.gov. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/cu.html. Retrieved 2010-01-15. 
  2. ^ "Raúl Castro Ruz". Britanica.com. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/929121/Raul-Castro. Retrieved 2008-11-10. 
  3. ^ a b "Fidel Castro announces retirement". BBC News. 18 February 2008. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7252109.stm. Retrieved 2008-02-24. 
  4. ^ "Raul Castro named Cuban president". BBC News. 24 February 2008. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7261204.stm. Retrieved 2008-02-24. 
  5. ^ "Fidel Castro will step down after 50 years at Cuba's helm". miamiherald.com. 19 February 2008. http://www.miamiherald.com/news/americas/story/424291.html. Retrieved 2008-02-19. 
  6. ^ Zambrano, Guillermo (9 November 2006). "Raúl Castro no será presidente de Cuba" (in es). http://articles.news.aol.com/latnews/_a/raul-castro-no-sera-presidente-de-cuba/20061109160509990009. 
  7. ^ a b José de Córdoba, David Luhnow and Bob Davis (2 August 2006). "Castro's Illness Opens Window On Cuba Transition". Wall Street Journal. pp. 1, 12. 
  8. ^ a b Miguel A. Faria Jr. (15 August 2001). "Who is Raúl Castro? (Part I)". NewsMax.com. http://www.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2001/8/15/224049.shtml. Retrieved 2006-08-05. 
  9. ^ "Revolutionary Firing Squads". 2008. http://www.latinamericanstudies.org/revolutionary-firing-squads.htm. Retrieved 2008-02-20. 
  10. ^ Rojas, Marta (4 September 2006). "When Raúl Castro assumed responsibility for the assault on the Moncada Garrison". http://www.granma.cu/ingles/2006/agosto/vier4/33raulmon-i.html. 
  11. ^ Audio: Cuba Marks 50 Years Since 'Triumphant Revolution' by Jason Beaubien, NPR All Things Considered, 1 January 2009
  12. ^ http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/report/1984/BLJ.htm
  13. ^ a b Tim Padgett and Dolly Mascarenas (2 August 2006). "Why Raul Castro Could End Up a Reformer". Time. http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1222009,00.html. Retrieved 2006-08-05. 
  14. ^ Phillip Hart (30 July 2006). "From Castro to Castro". Daily Telegraph. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/07/30/wcuba30.xml. Retrieved 2006-08-05. 
  15. ^ "Fidel Castro Says Health Stable in Statement Read on State Television". FoxNews.com. 1 August 2006. http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,206483,00.html. Retrieved 2006-08-05. 
  16. ^ Carlos Alberto Montaner (January/February 2007). "Communism Has Failed Cuba". Foreign Policy. pp. 56. 
  17. ^ "Castro recovering and giving orders: Chavez". Reuters. 3 September 2006. http://today.reuters.com/news/articlenews.aspx?type=topNews&storyID=2006-09-03T213241Z_01_N03251032_RTRUKOC_0_US-CUBA-CASTR0-VENEZUELA.xml&archived=False. 
  18. ^ NPR "Weekend Edition, Saturday", report of Gary Marx, 2 December 2006 http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6569909
  19. ^ "Raul Castro greets Chávez on Fidel's 80th birthday". 2008. http://www.turkishpress.com/news.asp?id=137334. Retrieved 2008-02-20. 
  20. ^ "page not found". 2008. http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/news/16144298.htm?source=rss&channel=miamiherald_news. Retrieved 2008-02-20. 
  21. ^ "Raul Castro 'not imitating Fidel'". BBC News. 21 December 2006. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/6199369.stm. Retrieved 2008-02-20. 
  22. ^ "granma.cu - Millions of Cubans demand imprisonment for terrorist Posada Carriles". 2008. http://granma.cu/ingles/2007/mayo/mar1/18desfile-i.html. Retrieved 2008-02-20. 
  23. ^ Raul offers Cuba a quieter Castro voice "Raul offers Cuba a quieter Castro voice - CNN.com". 2008. http://edition.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/americas/02/19/raul.castro.ap/index.html Raul offers Cuba a quieter Castro voice. Retrieved 2008-02-20. 
  24. ^ "Raul Castro Becomes Cuba's Leader - Associated Press". 2008. http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/C/CUBA_LEADERSHIP?SITE=TXPLA&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT. Retrieved 2008-02-24. 
  25. ^ a b Neill, Morgan (2008). "Raul Castro pushes change for Cubans". http://edition.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/americas/04/26/raul.castro/. Retrieved 2008-04-26. 
  26. ^ Marc Frank, "Raúl Castro Overhauls Cuba’s Farm Bureaucracy", Reuters News, 1 May 2008.
  27. ^ Frances Robles, "Cubans Who Work More Will Get Higher Salaries", Miami Herald, 12 June 2008.
  28. ^ [http://www.cubanradio.cu/news/january_09/raul_castro_visited_new_housing_project_in_santiago_de_cuba0609.asp "Raul Castro Visited New Housing Project in Santiago de Cuba" Cuban News Agency via Cuban Radio] Accessed 11 February 2009
  29. ^ "TIME magazine Milestones". Time Magazine. 9 February 1959. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,892216,00.html. Retrieved 2006-11-14. 
  30. ^ "Raúl Castro". Miami Herald. 1 August 2006. http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/news/world/cuba/15169028.htm. Retrieved 2006-08-05. 
  31. ^ "The Fidel Castro mystery - Sentinel & Enterprise". 2008. http://www.sentinelandenterprise.com/ci_4249757. Retrieved 2008-02-20. 

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References

  • Castro, Juanita; as told to Maria Antonieta Collins (2009). Fidel y Raul - Mis Hermanos, La Historia Secreta. Santillana USA Publishing Company, Inc.. ISBN 978-1-60396-701-3. 

External links

Political offices
New creation Minister of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Cuba
1959–2008
Succeeded by
Julio Casas Reguiero
First Vice President of Cuba
1976–2008
Succeeded by
José Machado Ventura
Preceded by
Fidel Castro
President of the Council of State of Cuba
Acting from 2006–2008

2006–present
Incumbent
President of the Council of Ministers of Cuba
Acting from 2006–2008

2006–present
Party political offices
Preceded by
New title
Second Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba
1965–present
Incumbent
Preceded by
Fidel Castro
First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba
Acting

2006–present
Military offices
Preceded by
Fidel Castro
Commander-in-Chief of the Revolutionary Armed Forces
Acting from 2006–2008

2006–present
Incumbent
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Fidel Castro
Secretary General of Non-Aligned Movement
Acting from 2006–2008

2008–2009
Succeeded by
Hosni Mubarak

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