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Castro sonlaw promoted to general

Posted on Wednesday, 03.19.14

Castro son-in-law promoted to general
BY JUAN O. TAMAYO
JTAMAYO@ELNUEVOHERALD.COM

A powerful son-in-law of Cuban ruler Raúl Castro, in charge of the
military enterprises that dominate the island’s economy, has been
promoted to general despite recurring reports of tensions with his wife
and brother-in-law.

Luis Alberto Rodriguez Lopez-Callejas, in his mid-50s and long
identified as a colonel in the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR), was
identified as a brigadier general in a Jan. 29 report in the Web pages
of Cubadefensa, a FAR publication.

Rodriguez heads the Enterprise Administration Group (GAESA), the FAR’s
business arm — the military controls 80 percent of the Cuban economy,
including hotels, factories, restaurants and airlines — and sits on the
Central Committee of the Communist Party.

He also is spearheading the $1 billion development project for the Port
of Mariel west of Havana, Cuba’s strategic bet for reinserting itself
into the global economy with the help of $800 million in financing from
Brazil.

Military promotions in secretive Cuba are seldom announced, but
Cubadefensa revealed his new rank in a brief report saying he attended a
ceremony marking the 20th anniversary of the military-run Almacenes
Universales S.A.

Rodriguez, married to Castro’s oldest daughter, Deborah Castro Espín, is
widely viewed as one of the most powerful and ambitious men in Cuba —
smart, arrogant, frugal and a highly effective administrator of GAESA.

His promotion to general supported speculation that he might succeed
Castro eventually because he holds a high military rank, knows the
economy, comes from a good family and married into an even more
important one. His father, Maj. Gen. Guillermo Rodríguez del Pozo, was
one of the Fidel Castro guerrillas who seized power in 1959.

“This means that he remains in contention, despite what people have been
saying about his troubles,” said Luis Dominguez, a Miami exile who first
reported Rodriguez’s promotion in his blog, Cuba al Descubierto — Cuba
Uncovered.

Retired CIA analyst Brian Latell, who authored two books on Cuba, said
the new rank is commensurate with the general’s responsibilities at the
very profitable GAESA. “I would say he earned his star fair and square,”
he said.

But Rodriguez also has been reported to have clashed often with Deborah
and her brother, Alejandro Castro Espín, 48, an Interior Ministry
colonel who is Castro’s chief intelligence advisor and runs a tough
anti-corruption campaign.

“He is too openly ambitious for Alejandro, and there’s always been
tension there,” said a Havana man who has friends in the Castro clan. He
asked to remain anonymous in order to speak frankly.

Raúl Castro, who succeeded his brother Fidel in 2006, has one son and
three daughters: Deborah, who is about 52; Mariela, 51, a sexologist
married to an Italian; and Vilma, the youngest. Castro’s wife, Vilma
Espín, died in 2007 after a long illness.

Havana journalist Carlos Cabrera Pérez, writing in a Miami blog in
January 2013, reported that Deborah Castro Espín had filed for divorce
at the end of 2012, alleging quarrels and infidelities by Rodriguez.

Her decision to seek a divorce came after the couple quarreled,
Alejandro Castro Espín came to his sister’s defense and the two men
clashed “with their hands,” Cabrera Perez wrote, citing unidentified
sources close to the family.

Juan Juan Almeida, who had close ties to the Raul Castro family before
he moved to Miami, wrote in a column last month published by Radio/TV
Martí that Rodriguez’s star had fallen because of the family problems.

Castro “will send, or already sent, the father of his grandchildren to
carry out a mission in Angola, a dangerous land for a Cuban in
disgrace,” Almeida wrote.

Rodriguez is the father of Castro’s favorite grandson, Raúl Guillermo
Rodríguez Castro, who is the Cuban leader’s closest bodyguard and aide.
The grandson is known as “The Crab” because he was born with six fingers
on each hand.

Dominguez said the general has a brother Gustavo, 55, who left Cuba for
treatment of a brain tumor and now lives in southwestern Florida with
his wife, María Victoria Balius Rodríguez. She has a daughter from a
previous marriage to a son of Fidel Castro, Alexis Castro Soto del Valle.

Dominguez also said that the United Nations report on a Cuban weapons
shipment to North Korea last summer that violated an arms embargo on the
Asian country showed the shipment was loaded abroad a freighter at the
Port of Mariel.

The U.N. report noted that the ongoing Mariel expansion program was led
by Almacenes Universales — part of GAESA’s holdings and the company
whose 20th anniversary celebration Rodriguez attended.

Source: Castro son-in-law promoted to general – Cuba – MiamiHerald.com –
http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/03/19/4003372/castro-son-in-law-promoted-to.html

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