Cuba: Luis Alberto Rodriguez Lopez-Calleja, the Powerful Son-in-Law Comes Out of the Shadows

López-Calleja was sworn into into the Cuban Parliament in a ceremony in Remedios, Villa Clara. (Vanguard)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 29 December 2021 — Luis Alberto Rodríguez López-Calleja, Raúl Castro’s former son-in-law who is known as the “Tsar of Gaesa,” joined the list of deputies this October, when he joined Parliament in a ceremony in Remedios (Villa Clara). Former division general and born in 1960, the military man was elected with 98.5% of the votes cast by the delegates and replaces the late Antonio Pérez Santos.

Months before, during the Eighth Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC), in a “no brainer” López-Calleja joined the Political Bureau. was the arrival at the Political Bureau of López-Calleja. Analysts had been foreseeing the rise of the military man to positions closer to the top of Cuban power for years. His presence in the Political Bureau is the closest of any member of the family clan, at least in a formal and public way, at the top of the PCC.

Until then, López-Calleja was a man with a discreet profile and, although he was a member of the Party’s Central Committee and executive president of the very powerful Grupo de Administración Empresarial, SA (Gaesa), he had remained in the shadows.

Yes, the United States had noticed him, and in September 2020 added him to the list of those sanctioned by the Office of Foreign Assets Control, a relationship that includes people and organizations with which United States citizens and residents permanent staff are prohibited from doing business. The measure also freezes the individual’s accounts in the country if he had any.

His leadership of Gaesa, which controls foreign exchange stores, hotels, real estate investments, construction companies, port services, remittance and currency exchange agencies, customs services and electronic commerce made him the head of the Cuban economy, all of it, under the military boot.

But his rise to the political table had a separate interpretation. Some analysts have wanted to see in this a masterful move by Raúl Castro. According to this theory, Díaz-Canel is a burned-out politician who has no popular acceptance and must be replaced very soon.

López-Calleja is over 60, which is now the maximum age for a president in Cuba, but not for a prime minister. Marrero, on the other hand, who runs Tourism and is therefore closely linked to Gaesa, could occupy the position of president. The tandem looms.


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