14ymedio, Havana, 24 December 2019 — Colonel Manuel Marrero Cruz, (Holguin, 1963), was surprised to become Cuban prime minister last Saturday, a position that was abolished in the Constitution of 1976 and recovered in the current one. The former Minister of Tourism was not in the main betting game but has ended up with the position and has become the most important government official who is not a member of the Central Committee of the Party.
His choice has been seen by analysts as a clear commitment to make the tourism sector even more visible as the engine of the Cuban economy. Marrero is considered a businessman in that area, in which he began his professional career. In 1990 he was launched in that sector as an investor, beginning his life in the construction in his native Holguín of the Río de Luna and Río Mares hotels of Esmeralda beach, both belonging to the Gaviota Group. He was head of the Technical Investment Group, deputy director and general director of the Río de Luna Hotel, and deputy delegate for Gaviota for eastern Cuba.
In 1996 he was named general director of the Varadero Azul complex and in 1999 first vice president of the Gaviota Tourism Group, of which he became president in 2001. In 2004 he was appointed Minister of Tourism by Fidel Castro, which makes him the person of his rank who has been in office for the longest period of time.
The takeoff of the tourism sector that he controls, which started in 2014 after the announcement of the restoration of relations with the US, has led him to become a very well-known face, although also contributing to this is the opposite, the fall of tourism due to Washington’s sanctions.
Those who have worked with him consider him a despotic and unfit boss. “He is inept and is surrounded by the inept,” a former Tourism employee told 14ymedio after Marrero’s appointment to the post of prime minister was made known. “He is the kind of boss who likes to let subordinates know that he is always above them and that if they contradict him, he can make their lives more difficult. He puts his personal benefit and that of his friends ahead of what may benefit tourism in Cuba,” the former subordinate said.
Marrero is also remembered very critically for a message he published on social networks a few hours after a tornado hit several areas of Havana on 27 January of this year. “We have made a tour after the weather event in our capital last night. All tourist facilities are operating, as they have not been affected,” he wrote.
In 2017 he received the Tourism Award of Excellence for his personal and professional career. Marrero received that award for having “carried out numerous projects in the (tourism) sector, which has become one of the fundamental engines of the Cuban economy.”
See also: 14ymedio’s 14 Faces of 2019
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