Raúl Castro


Raúl Castro

Infobox President
name = Raúl Castro


order = President of Cuba
vicepresident = First Vice President:
José Ramón Machado Ventura
Other Vice Presidents:
Juan Almeida Bosque
Julio Casas Regueiro
Esteban Lazo
Carlos Lage Dávila
Abelardo Colomé
term_start = February 24, 2008
Acting: July 31, 2006 – February 24, 2008
predecessor = Fidel Castro
order2 = First Vice President of Cuba
term_start2 = December 2, 1976
term_end2 = February 24, 2008
predecessor2 =
successor2 = José Machado Ventura
order3 = Secretary General of Non-Aligned Movement
term_start3 = February 24, 2008
term_end3 =
predecessor3 = Fidel Castro
successor3 =
party = PCC
birth_date = Birth date and age|1931|06|03|mf=y
birth_place = Birán, Holguín, Cuba
death_date =
death_place =
spouse = Vilma Espín (1930 – 2007)
relations =
children =Deborah Castro-Espin
Mariela Castro-Espin
Nilsa Castro-Espin
Alejandro Castro-Espin
residence =
alma_mater =Colegio de Belen
occupation =
profession =


website =
footnotes =

Raúl Modesto Castro Ruz (born June 3, 1931) is the President of the Cuban Council of Statecite web | date= 2008-02-18 | url = http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7252109.stm | title = Fidel Castro announces retirement | publisher = BBC News | accessdate = 2008-02-24] [cite web |date =2008-02-24 |url= http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7261204.stm|title = Raul Castro named Cuban president |publisher= BBC News|accessdate=2008-02-24] and the head of state of Cuba. The younger brother of Fidel Castro, he is also Second Secretary of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC), and Commander in Chief (Maximum General) of the Armed Forces (Army, Navy, and Air Force).

On July 31, 2006, Raúl Castro assumed the duties of President of the Council of State in a temporary transfer of power due to Fidel Castro's illness. According to the Cuban Constitution Article 94, the First Vice President of the Council of State assumes presidential duties upon the illness or death of the president.

Raúl Castro was elected President at the February 24, 2008, National Assembly session, as Fidel Castro had announced his intention not to stand for President again on February 19, 2008.cite web | date= 2008-02-18 | url = http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7252109.stm | title = Fidel Castro announces retirement | publisher = BBC News | accessdate = 2008-02-24] [cite web |date =2008-02-19 |url= http://www.miamiherald.com/news/americas/story/424291.html|title = Fidel Castro will step down after 50 years at Cuba's helm |publisher= miamiherald.com|accessdate=2008-02-19]

Pre–1959

Son of Galician immigrant Ángel Castro and Lina Ruz, a Cuban woman of Galician ancestry, Raúl is the youngest of the three Castro brothers. He also has four sisters, Angela, Juanita, Enma, and Agustina, and two half siblings, Lidia and Pedro Emilio, who were raised by Ángel Castro's first wife. Persistent rumors supported by former CIA analyst Brian Latell are taken to suggest that Batista army loyalist Felipe Miraval, nicknamed "el Chino" is Raúl's, but not Fidel's, father. [cite news | first = Guillermo | last = Zambrano | title = Raúl Castro no será presidente de Cuba | url = http://articles.news.aol.com/latnews/_a/raul-castro-no-sera-presidente-de-cuba/20061109160509990009 | date=2006-11-09 | language = es] As youngsters, the Castro brothers were expelled from the first school they attended. Like Fidel, Raúl later attended the Jesuit School of Colegio Dolores in Santiago and Colegio Belén in Havana. Raúl, as an undergraduate, studied social sciences. Whereas Fidel excelled as a student, Raúl's performance was mostly mediocre.cite news
author = José de Córdoba, David Luhnow and Bob Davis
title = Castro's Illness Opens Window On Cuba Transition
publisher = Wall Street Journal
pages = 1, 12
date = 2006-8-2
] Raúl was a committed socialist and joined the Socialist Youth, an affiliate of the Soviet-oriented Cuban Communist Party, Partido Socialista Popular (PSP).cite news
author = Miguel A. Faria Jr.
title = Who is Raúl Castro? (Part I)
url = http://www.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2001/8/15/224049.shtml
publisher = NewsMax.com
date = 2001-08-15
accessdate = 2006-08-05
] The brothers participated actively in sometimes violent student political actions. [cite web | title = Revolutionary Firing Squads | url=http://www.latinamericanstudies.org/revolutionary-firing-squads.htm | accessdate = 2008-02-20 | year = 2008 ] In 1953, Raúl was a member of the 26th of July Movement that attacked the Moncada Barracks, and he spent 22 months in prison as a result of this action. [cite news | last = Rojas | first = Marta | date = 2006-09-04 | url=http://www.granma.cu/ingles/2006/agosto/vier4/33raulmon-i.html | title = When Raúl Castro assumed responsibility for the assault on the Moncada Garrison] During his exile in Mexico, he participated in the preparations of the expedition of the ship "Granma," embarking for Cuba on December 2, 1956.

It was during the period in Mexico that Raúl reportedly befriended Ernesto "Che" Guevara in Mexico City and brought him into Fidel's circle of revolutionaries. Raúl also established contact with Soviet KGB agent Nikolai Leonov, whom he had met two years earlier during a trip to the Soviet-bloc nations. That relationship would persist until the Castro brothers successfully assumed power in Cuba.

A Commander in the Cuban Revolution

Raúl was one of the few survivors of the disastrous Granma landing. He was part of the tiny group of survivors who managed to reach a safe haven in the Sierra Maestra mountains (see the Cuban Revolution). As Fidel's brother and trusted right-hand man he was given progressively bigger commands. On February 27, 1958, Raúl was made "comandante" and assigned the mission to cross the old province of Oriente leading a column of guerrillas to open, to the northeast of that territory, the "Frank País Eastern Front."

As a result of Raúl's "Eastern Front" operations he was not involved in the pivotal Operation Verano (which came close to destroying the main body of fighters but ended up a spectacular victory for Fidel). However, Raúl's forces remained active and grew over time. By October 1958, after being reinforced by Fidel, the two brothers had about 2,000 fighters and they were operating freely throughout Oriente province. In December, while Che Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos were operating around Santa Clara, Fidel and Raúl's army laid siege to Maffo (capturing it on December 30). Their victorious army then headed to Santiago de Cuba, the capital of Oriente province.

Thanks to the loss of Santa Clara, Batista fled Cuba on night of December 31-January 1. The two Castro brothers with their army arrived on the outskirts of Santiago de Cuba and said their forces would storm the city at 6 PM January 1 if it did not first surrender. The commander (Colonel Rego Rubido) surrendered Santiago de Cuba without a fight. The war was over and Fidel was able to take power in Havana when he arrived on January 6, 1959.

Raúl's abilities as a military leader during the revolution are hard to see clearly. Unlike Che Guevara or Cienfuegos, Raúl had no significant victories he could claim credit for on his own. The last operations (which were clearly successful) were conducted with his older brother Fidel present (and in command). [http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/report/1984/BLJ.htm]

After Batista's fall, Raúl was responsible for overseeing the summary execution of "scores" of soldiers loyal to deposed president Fulgencio Batista.cite news
title = Why Raul Castro Could End Up a Reformer
author = Tim Padgett and Dolly Mascarenas
url = http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1222009,00.html
publisher = Time
date = 2006-08-02
accessdate = 2006-08-05
]

Post–1959

Raúl Castro Ruz was a member of the National Leadership of the Integrated Revolutionary PO Organizations (established July 1961; dissolved March 1962) and of the United Party of the Socialist Revolution of Cuba (established March 1962; dissolved October 1965). He has been a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba and the Second Secretary of its Politburo since the Party's formation in October 1965; also, the First Vice President of the Cuban Council of State, of the National Assembly of the Popular Power and of the Council of Ministers since these were created in 1976. He was appointed Minister of the Revolutionary Armed Forces when the Ministry was founded in October 1959 and served in that capacity until February 2008; he is also the nation's highest ranking general.Castro is credited with persuading his older brother to implement agricultural market reforms in the early 1990s which increased the food supply, after the Soviet Union fell and its generous subsidies to Cuba stopped.

Assumption of presidential duties

:see also|2006 Cuban transfer of dutiesOn July 31, 2006, Fidel Castro's personal secretary Carlos Valenciaga announced on state-run television that Fidel Castro would provisionally hand over the duties of President of the Council of State of Cuba, First Secretary of the Communist Party and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces to Raúl Castro while Fidel underwent and recovered from intestinal surgery to repair gastrointestinal bleeding. [cite news
author= Phillip Hart
title = From Castro to Castro
url = http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/07/30/wcuba30.xml
publisher = Daily Telegraph
date = 2006-07-30
accessdate = 2006-08-05
] [cite news
title = Fidel Castro Says Health Stable in Statement Read on State Television
url = http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,206483,00.html
publisher = FoxNews.com
date = 2006-08-01
accessdate = 2006-08-05
]

Many commentators consider Raúl Castro to be a political hardliner who will maintain the Communist Party of Cuba's political power at all costs. However, there are others who believe that he is more pragmatic than his older brother and more willing to institute free market-oriented economic policies. It is speculated that he favours a variant of the current Chinese political and economic model for Cuba in the hopes of preserving some elements of the socialist system. However, none of these speculations has ever been confirmed by Raúl himself.

Several commentators, including some writers on the "The Wall Street Journal," call Castro "uncharismatic and widely feared," with a "cold efficien [t] " style. He is accused of the persecution of dissidents and homosexuals. Additionally, some have speculated about Raúl's ill health, specifically alcoholism, raising doubts about his future leadership. [cite news
author= Carlos Alberto Montaner
title = Communism Has Failed Cuba
publisher = Foreign Policy
date = January/February 2007
pages = 56
]

Raúl, considered much less charismatic than his brother Fidel Castro, has remained largely out of public view during the transfer of duty period.cite news|title=Castro recovering and giving orders: Chavez|date=2006-09-03 |publisher=Reuters |url=http://today.reuters.com/news/articlenews.aspx?type=topNews&storyID=2006-09-03T213241Z_01_N03251032_RTRUKOC_0_US-CUBA-CASTR0-VENEZUELA.xml&archived=False] His few public appearances included hosting a gathering of leaders of the Non-Aligned nations in September 2006, and leading the national commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the "Granma" boat landing, which also became Fidel's belated 80th birthday celebrations. [NPR "Weekend Edition, Saturday", report of Gary Marx, December 2, 2006 http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6569909] [cite web | title = Raul Castro greets Chávez on Fidel's 80th birthday | url=http://www.turkishpress.com/news.asp?id=137334 | accessdate = 2008-02-20 | year = 2008 ] [cite web | title = page not found | miami.com | url=http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/news/16144298.htm?source=rss&channel=miamiherald_news | accessdate = 2008-02-20 | year = 2008 Dead link|date=February 2008]

In a speech to university students, Raúl stated that a communist system in Cuba would remain, and that "Fidel is irreplaceable, unless we all replace him together." [cite news | title = Raul Castro 'not imitating Fidel' | url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/6199369.stm | accessdate = 2008-02-20 | year = 2008 ]

On May 1, 2007, Raúl presided over the May Day celebrations in Havana. According to "Granma "the crowd reached over one million participants, with delegations from over 225 organizations and 52 countries. [cite web | title = granma.cu - Millions of Cubans demand imprisonment for terrorist Posada Carriles | url=http://granma.cu/ingles/2007/mayo/mar1/18desfile-i.html | accessdate = 2008-02-20 | year = 2008 ]

While Fidel Castro historically mesmerized his countrymen with dramatic, extemporaneous speeches stretching over hours, brother Raúl is known for his businesslike, unanimated delivery, rarely bothering to look up from prepared texts. So Raúl offers, after the resignation of his brother Fidel, announced February 19, 2008, a quieter Castro voice. [cite news | title = Raul offers Cuba a quieter Castro voice - CNN.com | url=http://edition.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/americas/02/19/raul.castro.ap/index.html Raul offers Cuba a quieter Castro voice | accessdate = 2008-02-20 | year = 2008 ]

On February 24, 2008, the National Assembly elected Raúl president of Cuba. Raúl delivered his inaugural address shortly afterward. [cite news | title = Raul Castro Becomes Cuba's Leader - Associated Press | url=http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/C/CUBA_LEADERSHIP?SITE=TXPLA&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT | accessdate = 2008-02-24 | year = 2008 ]

President of Cuba

Taking his brother's place as President of Cuba in February 2008, Raúl Castro's government has been carrying out many changes. Unlike his brother, Raúl Castro has, among others things, allowed ordinary citizens to buy DVD-players, PC's, scooters and other energy-consuming products. He has also signed two United Nations human rights agreements, given unused state land for farming, freed many prisoners and loosened up travel restrictions for Cubans. [cite news | title = Raul Castro pushes change for Cubans | url=http://edition.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/americas/04/26/raul.castro/ | accessdate = 2008-04-26 | year = 2008 ] [cite news | title = Cuba's Raul Castro commutes most death sentences | http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080429/wl_nm/cuba_sentences_dc_3 | accessdate = 2008-04-28 | year = 2008 ]

Public persona and personal life

A few weeks after the 1959 victory, Castro married Vilma Espín Guillois, a former MIT chemical engineering student and veteran of the revolution who in 1960 became president of the Cuban Federation of Women. [cite news
title = TIME magazine Milestones
url = http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,892216,00.html
publisher = Time Magazine
date = 1959-02-09
accessdate = 2006-11-14
] They have three daughters (Déborah, Mariela and Nilsa) and one son (Alejandro) Castro Espín. [cite news
title = Raúl Castro
url = http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/news/world/cuba/15169028.htm
publisher = Miami Herald
date = 2006-08-01
accessdate = 2006-08-05
] Their daughter Mariela currently heads the Cuban National Center for Sex Education. Vilma Espín died on June 18, 2007, a daughter and some relatives of Raúl are believed to reside in Italy.

In an interview in 2006, following his assumption of presidential duties, Raúl Castro commented on his public profile stating: "I am not used to making frequent appearances in public, except at times when it is required … I have always been discreet, that is my way, and in passing I will clarify that I am thinking of continuing in that way." [cite web | title = The Fidel Castro mystery - Sentinel & Enterprise | url=http://www.sentinelandenterprise.com/ci_4249757 | accessdate = 2008-02-20 | year = 2008 ]

ee also

* Mariela Castro, Raúl Castro's daughter

Notes

External links

* [http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article3396201.ece?token=null&offset=24 Who is Raul Castro, Cuba's new leader?] , "Times Online", February 19, 2008.
* [http://www.cidob.org/es/documentacion/biografias_lideres_politicos/america_central_y_caribe/cuba/raul_castro_ruz Biography by CIDOB Foundation] (in Spanish)
* [http://www.escambray.cu/Eng/news/Craulspeech070727925.htm Speech by Raúl Castro on July 26, 2007 (English translation)] , "Escambray Digital", July 27, 2007.
* [http://www.cubapolidata.com/cafr/cafr_castro.html Cuban Armed Forces Review: Raúl Castro]
* [http://www.stabroeknews.com/index.pl/print?id=56518443 "Cuba in transition"] in [http://www.stabroeknews.com/ "Starbroek News"] , April 19, 2007
* [http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/news/world/cuba/15034556.htm "Regime readies path for Raúl Castro's rise"] by Frances Robles, "Miami Herald", July 14, 2006.
* [http://astore.amazon.co.uk/fidelcastro-21 Raul Castro Books]
*"BBC" Profile: [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/5234790.stm Raul Castro] Feb 24 2008
*"Time Magazine:" [http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1732103,00.html Castro Family Values: Fidel vs. Raul] April 17, 2008

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