Raul Castro and His Retirement Plan
Raul Castro and His Retirement Plan / Juan Juan Almeida
Posted on April 1, 2016
Juan Juan Almeida, 24 March 2016 — It is a few days before the start of
the Cuban Communist Party Congress and Raul Castro is counting down the
months until his retirement. He has everything more or less figured out.
Almost. If you consider everything the president of both the Council of
State and the Council of Ministers has said and done in the last two
years, it quickly becomes apparent that it is all part of a plan in
which he has weighed the possible consequences of an exponential loss of
power. He knows that even if he wields power from the sidelines, as I
anticipate will happen, there will be a handful of decisions about which
he will not be consulted and, as happened to Fidel, he will find himself
out of power.
Raul Castro’s plan is to retire while simultaneously reducing the very
real possibility that a Baltasar Garzon will come along one day to stand
in judgement over his many crimes. He is in jeopardy in Cuba; outside
Cuba the risk is greater.
The only person with whom he can cooperate to guarantee some sort of
immunity is His Holiness the Pope.
Unlike in journalism, what is important in politics is what you don’t see.
Let’s take a look at recent events. In the past year the president of
France, the prime minister of Italy, the president of Austria and now
Barack Obama have passed through Havana. In the midst of all the comings
and goings of important and elegant visitors, the Paris Club wrote off
part of Cuba’s external debt.
It would be logical to think that all this is the result of some great
negotiation, especially since we know that the Paris Club does not give
away four billion dollars without some kind of agreement.
Tourism in Cuba has grown by more than 20%. Havana is filled with
visitors while both profits and remittances are increasing. Clearly,
there is a lot of money coming into the country yet the streets are
disgusting, street lamps are non-existent, stores go unstocked and
people are broken.
Where is all this money going?
A good part is being siphoned off to create a large fund to support the
royal family and its retinue of bodyguards in retirement.
The well-publicized battle against corruption allows the general to
consolidate the funds into a single treasure chest while at the same
time eliminating a certain number of “corrupt” individuals whom he could
Based on information they had, these individuals accused officials of
dishonesty. They had either followed the trail of misappropriated funds
or knew where they were ultimately being directed. Rather than being
corrupt officials, they became the incarcerated elite.
Such was the case of Thomas Lorenzo, former director of credit card
sales at BICSA, a man whose crime was never larceny. His transgression
lay in the way he handled information, which is perhaps why he ended up
dying in prison.
Another portion of the money is being used to pay creditors and, by
paying, gain their confidence and protection. Russia, China and the
Paris Club shelled out because there were demonstrations of an intent to
pay and those actions warranted debt forgiveness.
The next person to visit Havana will be the recently elected president
of Argentina, who has already warned his country that he will also
commute part of the debt.
The strategy is effective but dangerous. It is very similar to the one
used Nicolae Ceausescu before he was shot. He tightened Romania’s belt
in an effort to begin paying down the country’s debts but his timing was
bad. Misery had overtaken the country. It was 1989, the winds of freedom
were blowing and the rest is history.
The only thing the general’s ingenious plan lacks is a successor capable
of keeping him away from those like me who are always lurking. It should
someone who is a loyal apprentice but not, in my opinion, his son. Or
Miguel Diaz-Canel. No doubt we will begin to get some idea in the coming
days after new appointments are announced during the upcoming VII
Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba.
Source: Raul Castro and His Retirement Plan / Juan Juan Almeida |
Translating Cuba –