Monday, February 25, 2008


Cuba keeps the old guard in place.

Cuba’s new leader has placed two top army generals in key positions in his new government, giving the armed forces an even bigger grip on the civilian power structure, experts said Sunday.

The National Assembly also filled the government’s No. 2 position — first vice president of the ruling Council of State — with 77-year-old José Ramón Machado Ventura, regarded as a very hard-line communist ideologue.

Retired CIA Cuba analyst Brian Latell said Sunday’s changes in the Council of State — no doubt orchestrated by Raúl Castro — resemble the Soviet Union in the early 1980s, when ”old men were replacing very old men.”

”This is a gerontocracy,” Latell added, noting that Castro’s inner circle is now dominated by people well into their 70s. Only 56-year-old Carlos Lage, who has been supervising the economy, represents a younger generation in the upper echelon of power.

Not unlike the old American cars that dot the streets of Havana, the “new” Cuban leadership sounds like they all hit their prime fifty years ago, they’re running on jury-rigged repairs, and sputtering along on the fumes of a cause they’ve long ago forgotten.