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Raúl Castro’s Inner Circle

Raúl Castro’s Inner Circle
Alejandro Castro Espín at the International Book Fair in Havana in 2009

Raúl Castro’s Inner Circle

Breaking News Alerts - Raúl Castro has reconfigured Cuba’s socialist model and its geopolitical relations since he took over from his brother Fidel. But Raúl Castro has pledged to step down in 2018, and even those who track his circle closely are uncertain who will follow him in power.
Here is a glance at some of those who will have a voice in a post-Castro Cuba:

Alejandro Castro Espín
Age: 51
Raúl Castro’s only son and personal adviser, Colonel Castro Espín is in charge of coordinating the military’s and Interior Ministry’s intelligence services. He has been increasingly visible, accompanying the Cuban leader during his meeting with President Obama in Panama in April 2015, and is widely believed to have represented Cuba in secret negotiations with the United States.
But Colonel Castro Espín, who has a doctorate in international relations, is no dove: In 2009, he published “Empire of Terror,” a 300-page account of what he described as American oppression.
Luis Alberto Rodríguez López-Callejas
As president of Gaesa, a holding company that controls the military’s business interests, General López-Callejas is one of the island’s most powerful men. Analysts estimate that Gaesa’s holdings – which include the two largest hotel and tourism groups as well as telecommunications concerns, convenience stores and gas stations – account for about 40 percent of the economy.
General Rodríguez López-Callejas is the father of two of Mr. Castro’s grandchildren, including Raúl Rodríguez Castro, the Cuban leader’s bodyguard.
​Miguel Mario Díaz-Canel Bermúdez
Age: 56
The former minister for higher education was appointed first vice-president in February 2013 and is broadly seen as the president in waiting. Mr. Díaz-Canel has advocated a more critical official press and has connected with younger Cubans who crave better Internet access and more economic opportunities.
He often leads foreign delegations, but it is unclear how much sway he has with the military.
Raúl Castro’s Inner Circle
Mariela Castro Espín in Havana in 2014. Credit Franklin Reyes/Associated Press

​Mariela Castro Espín
Age: 54
Raúl Castro’s outspoken daughter is a sexologist who has fought successfully to expand gay rights. She became a member of the country’s parliament in 2013, and her liberal bent and candor have led some in Cuba to wonder if she is destined for a greater role.
Ms. Castro Espín, who is married to an Italian photographer, is often seen mingling at cultural events and diplomatic soirees in Havana and appears frequently in public alongside lesbian, gay and transgender activists.
In December 2013, Ms. Castro Espín voted against a new labor law on the grounds that it did not go far enough to protect gay rights – an unheard-of act of rebellion in the legislature, which invariably votes unanimously.
Raúl Castro’s Inner Circle
Gen. Leopoldo Cintra Frías at a Cuban Communist Party congress in Havana in 2011.

Gen. Leopoldo Cintra Frías
Age: 75
General Cintra Frías, Cuba’s minister of defense, joined the rebel army when he was 12. After the 1959 revolution, he studied military affairs in Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union and saw action in Angola and Ethiopia.
He has a low public profile and is thought to be well respected by Mr. Castro. Frank Mora, the director of the Kimberly Green Latin American and Caribbean Center at Florida International University, says he is a “soldier’s soldier,” rather than one of the soldiers-turned-technocrats to whom Mr. Castro has entrusted the running of important economic interests.
José Ramón Machado Ventura
Age: 86
Second secretary of the Cuban Communist Party and first vice president of the Council of State, Mr. Machado is a hard-line Communist and veteran of the revolution. In 2008, Mr. Castro picked Mr. Machado to be his second in command – a position he held until he was succeeded in 2013 by Miguel Mario Díaz-Canel.
Even though he is now one rung below Mr. Díaz-Canel on the political ladder, Mr. Machado has been a such a fixture at official events that some worry that his prominence represents a victory of orthodoxy over reform.

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