A General with Open Doors / Juan Juan Almeida

ulicesBorn March 8, 1942, in the district of San Fermin, municipality of El Cobre, Gen. Ulises Rosales del Toro is a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party, and the Councils of State and Ministers of the Republic of Cuba.

The son of peasants, he is stubborn, rather untamed, intense, hard, sensitive, kind, compassionate, has a naive attraction for ridicule and mystery.

His first education he took the course at a school located next to Boniato Prison, on the outskirts of Santiago de Cuba, learning about the life of the prisoners developed a certain sensibility faced with the suffering of others. He climbed the Sierra Maestra not for political ideas but from an understanding of the problems of the farmer, as well as from a young man’s passion for adventure itself.

In 1963 he was part of the Cuban military expedition to Algeria, and in 1967 he went to Venezuela. Angola was a crack that began to open in the wall of his loyalties and from then he was a general at the academy; chief of staff of the Army.

In December of 1988 days after the signing in New York of the trilateral accord between Angola, South Africa and Cuba, where Namibia’s independence was agreed on, the acceptance by South African of no further support for UNITA, the withdrawal of the Cuban troops from Angola; General Rosales del Toro, tired of the ineffectiveness of bullets and convinced of the effectiveness of dialog to achieve consistent agreements, brought to Cuba the proposal to negotiate with the United States and so to try to put an end to many years of tension; but instead of an answer, he received the order — with hints of punishment — from the Presiding Military Court that tried General Ochoa in 1989.

It’s not easy to recover from such a vile thing. It is well-known that General Rosales ceased to be one of the Revolution’s “privileged,” talks now like Raul is no longer the imitation but a Gothic aversion. Maybe because of this and because of the respect Ulises still arouses among the soldiers and the officials, what’s more that old tendentious and sadomasochistic manner of submission to a chosen one, in 1997 he was named Minister of Sugar.

Neither the best attempt to eradicate the old military habit, nor long hours of study were capable of cleaning up bad procedures that take root in this sector. The harvest maintained its accelerated pace, striding toward its inevitable disaster; marked by neglect, inefficiency, corruption, and poverty-level wages that drives the diversion of resources.

The constant industrial breakage and interruptions aggravated the sugar production to the point where it fell into the tank. In November 2008, before the Ministry of Sugar was eradicated, the veteran general, rationalizing and voluntarily despite his disappointment, is named Minister of Agriculture.

It’s worth nothing here a refrain that’s particularly apt: when the charity is great even the saint worries. With prudence and great skill, his door remains open to investors, diplomats and businessmen.

Like a strange disease that becomes a cure; Ulises Rosales del Toro is emerging as a good ally for whomever, in the mood to negotiate, tries to attract (buy) soldiers.

February 1 2013