Juan Juan Almeida, 22 March 2016 — President Barack Obama’s visit to Havana is replete with coded messages and defensive tactics. Why is it that at the start of the official ceremony we do not see Vice-President Miguel Diaz-Canel but rather Prince Alejandro Castro?
As everyone now knows, while the president of the United States was traveling on Air Force One to Jose Marti International Airport in Rancho Boyeros, the inhospitable Cuban government was brutally disrupting a peaceful demonstration by the Ladies in White and civil rights activists, showing us just how much progress it has made on the issue of human rights.
Raul Castro did not lead the delegation greeting this important visitor upon his arrival in Cuba. Instead we saw Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parilla and other lesser government officials in his place. I am not saying this is a serious breach of diplomatic protocol, but in fact it is a rather vulgar response given all the efforts at reconciliation made by the United States.
Obama laid a wreath at the monument to Cuba’s national hero, Jose Marti. Afterwards, it was also very odd to see Prince Alejandro at the first meeting between the two heads-of-state in place of any of the country’s vice-presidents.
While these types of actions may not follow protocol, they can be explained. At the moment the Cuban government is facing a less than full-blown state of emergency. It is in a state of mobilization, a state of war in a time of peace, and not because of the rarity of a visit by an American president. Not at all. It is because things back at the palace are not going well. The post of interior minister is vacant because the recently appointed Carlos Fernandez Gondin was involuntarily removed from office under suspicious circumstances.
Given the current situation and in compliance with some bogus article not found in the nation’s constitution, the country now finds itself under the control of the Commission for Defense and National Security, directed by none of other than the prince, Alejandro Castro.