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Marino Murillo, a key figure in the economic reform process, was “liberated” as minister of economy and planning and replaced by his deputy Abel Izquierdo Rodríguez, said a note read on state TV Friday evening.

The change was suggested by Raúl Castro and decided by the Council of State.

Murillo, Castro


Murillo, 50, remains as coordinator of the economic policy commission in the Sixth Communist Party Congress in April and will continue to oversee the economy ministry as vice president of government, according to the note.

“He has been put in charge of supervising the implementation of the associated measures and the actualization of the Cuban economic model,” the note read. “This is a responsibility on which he should focus his work” after the congress approves the reform package.

Because this is a central role, one foreign observer in Havana considered Murillo’s position as “strengthened.”

“This move clearly identifies Murillo as the man of reform, and it positions him as a candidate for the Politburo,” the observer said. “It also seems to be a message by Raúl that the reform is underway, despite conservative opposition. This is an important move just before the Congress, a move that confirms that Raúl’s team, not the Party apparatus, is at the forefront of the new economic policy.”

Izquierdo, a 65-year old engineer, had been deputy economy minister since 2009. He began his career in the armed forces.

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