14ymedio, Havana, 24 December 2018 — The big surprise of 19 April 2018, when the Cuban Parliament elected a new Council of State, was not the investiture of Miguel Diaz-Canel as president of the Councils of State and of Ministers but the appointment of Salvador Antonio Valdés Mesa as his vice president.
His name did not appear among the speculations of the analysts who bet on different candidates for the second-in-command in the Government.
Valdés Mesa held the portfolio of Minister of Labor and Social Security in 1995 and, as of 2006, was general secretary of the Central de Trabajadores de Cuba (Cuban Workers Center, the country’s only legal labor union).
Since 1999, between a government position and a union one, he served as first secretary of the Communist Party in the province of Camagüey, where his management was very unpopular.
Now, at 68, the official is at an intermediate age between the octogenarians of the historical generation and the younger cadres born after the triumph of the rRevolution. Since he was appointed ice president, he has been frequently seen on television news programs visiting provinces, and checking the work of state companies and cooperatives. In most of these trips he has been accompanied by José Ramón Machado Ventura, second secretary of the country’s single party.
In his public speeches he insists on the need to work more, increase efficiency, raise savings and replace imports with domestically produced products. He is considered a hard-line conservative and therefore as the one in charge of monitoring the president to ensure that he stays within the political orthodoxy. Proof of this is that, unlike Miguel Díaz-Canel, he has not felt the need to clarify that he is not a reformer.
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