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    Mariano Murillo, the Marked Card Up Raul Castro’s Sleeve

    Mariano Murillo, the Marked Card Up Raul Castro’s Sleeve/ 14ymedio
    Reinaldo Escobar

    14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 15 July 2016 — The ouster of Marino
    Murillo as head of the Ministry of Economy and Planning (MEP) raises the
    question of whether it was a fall into disgrace or an act of protection.
    An official statement said that Murillo would dedicate himself to the
    implementation of the Communist Party Guidelines and recognized his work
    as minister. The praise contrasts with the terrible results of the Cuban
    economy in the first half of this year and raises the question of
    whether Murillo’s removal, in reality, hides a promotion.

    It is obvious that Cuba’s current situation is producing an important
    shuffling in the higher echelons of the government. The replacement of
    the first secretary of the Union of Young Communists, the untimely
    replacement of the Minister of Culture, and the departure of the head of
    Higher Education, have put the entire cabinet on notice at a time when
    even the official media speak of “the critical situation the country is

    However, the “fall” of Murillo could also be interpreted as a strategy
    to distance him from blame for the disaster. What is more important: the
    management of the Ministry of Economy and Planning or the implementation
    of the Party guidelines? In the latter case, removing his ministerial
    portfolio would be a protective mantle placed over the former minister
    by Raul Castro himself. As if he wants to make people see that “if the
    economy is bad, it’s not Murillo’s fault.”

    Why should he save Murillo? The answer to that question is in the
    future, at the end of 2017, when it will be made clear whose names will
    appear on the candidate list for the positions of president of the
    Councils of State and of Ministers, that Raul Castro will step down from
    in February of 2018, having come to the end of two consecutive terms.

    If, finally, the current first vice president, Miguel Diaz Canel,
    replaces the General-President, the second echelon of these
    responsibilities would immediately become vacant. In a few more years,
    given the inevitable physical disappearance of the “historic
    generation,” a depleted quarry of cadres – lacking experience in power
    and also lacking prestige among the people – will have to take over in
    what will necessarily be a transition.

    Since the high-level house cleaning that took place after Raul Castro
    took possession of the position of president, when Carlos Lage Davila,
    Felipe Perez Roque and Carlos Valenciaga, among other promising “younger
    sons,” were removed from their posts, the question of who will replace
    the current leaders has become more difficult to answer.

    Sending Murillo out by the back door today, would be losing an
    unrecoverable card that has taken many years to develop. Compared with
    Jose Ramon Machado Ventura, the former Economy minister, he appears to
    be a reformer, a pragmatic politician who has spoken clearly about the
    need to produce wealth, and we have never heard him mention socialist
    emulation or moral encouragements as methods to boost production of
    material goods.

    Murillo is a marked card which Raul Castro has kept up his sleeve all
    these years and he will not be discarded by the triviality of failing to
    deliver 50% growth in gross domestic product for this year. The
    so-called czar of reforms is the face that can give foreign investors
    confidence. Gone are the days when candidates for the throne had to make
    a show of their oratory, their imagination in creating new slogans or
    their histrionic capacity to show up for volunteer work.

    Ricardo Cabrisas Ruiz, vice president of the Council of Ministers, has
    been named as a substitute for Marino Murillo in the MEP. His claim to
    fame is having convinced half of the world’s creditors to renegotiate
    the country’s foreign debt. Together they make a good match to try to
    save the shipwreck of a nation adrift.

    If Murillo and Cabrisas are to steer the ship in one direction or
    another, they will have to conquer a faithless people and convince the
    Taliban that they are not betraying the legacy, or make them see that
    there is no choice but to start all over from the beginning.

    Source: Mariano Murillo, the Marked Card Up Raul Castro’s Sleeve/
    14ymedio Reinaldo Escobar – Translating Cuba –