The Next Move of Lopez-Calleja, Raul Castro’s Man

Luis Alberto Rodríguez López-Calleja (center), has a double link with the first group of power in Cuba. (Cubanet)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 25 October 2021 — It is assumed that the agenda of Division General Luis Alberto Rodríguez López-Calleja now has room for his new commitment: responding to the requirements of the 16,500 inhabitants of the municipality of Remedios, in the province of Villa Clara, where they have chosen him as their representative to the National Assembly of People’s Power.

In this hypothetical agenda, digitized or on paper, the most confidential data of the Gaesa Business Group, which he controls, as well as bank accounts and properties abroad, and probably the most covert secrets of political activity on the Island, should be noted down.

In the Extraordinary Session of the Municipal Assembly of Remedios held on Saturday, October 23, only one of the 76 delegates of that delegation was against him when he was proposed to fill the void left by Antonio Alberto Pérez Santos, one of the two deputies representing the city in Parliament and one of the 17 vacancies that remained to be filled since last year.

Pérez Santos, who also served as president of the Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba (UNEAC) in Villa Clara, had died at the age of 55 on September 15, 2020. Since then, his position in Parliament has been vacant.

The all-powerful general, Raúl Castro’s former son-in-law, was promoted in the Eighth Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba to one of the 14 positions in the Political Bureau, so that his “election” as a deputy does not mean an increase in power, where it will only be one vote among the 600 who traditionally raise their hands complacently to approve what is decided in the party leadership.

If we accept that his entry into Parliament is not due to the need to have someone there who can answer for the problems (without remedy) of the municipality of Remedios and considering that he already has a voice and vote in “the highest instance,” it will be necessary to jump to the conclusion that his appointment only seeks the fulfillment of a requirement.

López-Calleja cannot be elected president of the Republic when he is over 60 years of age, the limit established for accessing the position according to article 127 of the Constitution. However, article 143 allows him to be prime minister as long as he is a member of parliament.

Analysts, who like to speculate, say that the current prime minister, Manuel Marrero is “a López-Calleja man” because he was Minister of Tourism for 16 years and this branch of the economy has, for all practical purposes, been in the hands of the military conglomerate Gaesa.

On October 10, 2023, when the first presidential term of Miguel Díaz-Canel expires, Marrero will have lived 60 years and three months, which, according to constitutional requirements, makes him (still) a presidential man.

It is no secret to anyone that the popular acceptance of Miguel Díaz-Canel, if he ever had it, has worn down to a point where many consider him inadmissible for a second term, nor even to conclude the first.

The speculations bet on something similar to what chess players call a castling, where Marrero would be President of the Republic and López-Calleja Prime Minister, but these theories have their fragile point in ignoring not only the popular will but also the invisible internal struggles that will emerge when Raúl Castro is no longer in a position to exert his influence.

For those who are not familiar with the Electoral Law, it is advisable to clarify that it was not an initiative of the voters or the members of the Municipal Assembly for General López-Calleja to represent them in Parliament.

It was the Council of State that considered and ordered that it was necessary to choose a substitute to fill a vacancy, as established in Article 232 of this regulation. Then, the National Nominations Commission approved the candidacy project and the Municipal Commission presented it to the delegates. They only had to mark one ballot to give their approval.


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