Juan Juan Almeida, 30 September 2015 — Alejandro Castro Espín’s intrusion into Cuba’s political scene has led to a whirlwind of Homeric fantasies in which his biography emerges as a genuine epic poem. This is quite normal; it is how myths are created. But be careful. To either demonize or idealize someone is to make the same mistake: It mythologizes a figure who will later end up embarrassing us.
Alejandro is not, nor will he be, the person who succeeds his father. There is a popular joke that goes like this: Eight out of ten Cubans complain about the government; the two who do not are Raul Castro’s grandson-bodyguard, Raul Guillermo, and his son-advisor, Alejandro.
Popular wisdom. Vilma and Raul’s son was born on July 29, 1965. I do not want to rehash the past — there has already been a ton written on the subject — but it is worth recalling that he began his university education at IPSJAE (José Antonio Echevarría Polytechnic University), only to abandon his studies in refrigeration engineering barely two years later to focus on a less demanding and more promising military career. Perhaps this earned more gold seals for his resume than the appellation on a bottle of cheap wine.
A lover of sports and bad habits such as digging into other people’s lives, a man with a face like a vegetarian takeout sign, Alejandro is credited with having earned engineering degrees, a doctorate in political science and a masters in international relations as well as being a writer and researcher on issues related to defense and national security.
No doubt he has many more but what is striking is that even the island’s official press seems unsure of the positions and responsibilities held by the youngest of the Castro Espíns’ offspring.
On April 11, 2015, during the Seventh Summit of the Americas held in Panama, the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MINREX) stated, “Cuba was represented by Chancillor Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla as well as by Alejandro Castro Espín and Juan Francisco Arias Fernández, both from the Defense and National Security Commission.”
He was mentioned again on the same MINREX website on September 29, 2015 — almost six months later — in reference to a meeting between President Barack Obama and the Cuban president. While the organization remained the same, his position in it seems to have changed:
“Cuba was represented by the minister of foreign affairs, Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, and by Alejandro Castro Espín and Juan Francisco Arias Fernández, advisor and deputy-advisor respectively of the Defense and National Security Commission.”
Alejandro’s job is either beginning to take shape or, worse, becoming distorted. The Council of National Defense, as stipulated by the Constitution of the Republic of Cuba, “is made up of the President of the Council of State, who presides; the Vice-President of the Council of State; his Vice-President; as well as five members appointed by the Council of State at the suggestion of its President.”
Alejandro is not among its members. He holds no designated post. His job, for now, is simply to be an empty bottle. The answer to the puzzle is easy enough: Raul Castro is to nepotism what Albert Einstein is to relativity.