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Raúl Guillermo Rodríguez Castro, Raul Castro’s grandson

Juan Juan Almeida, 19 December 2016 —  With 2018 approaching, alarm bells are already sounding over fissures in what was once the monolithic unity of the Communist Party and weaknesses in the supposed cohesiveness of Cuba’s royal family.

The long-awaited announcement of Raul Castro’s retirement has unleashed an “every man for himself” and “looking out for number one” attitude among those who, driven by the influence that supposedly comes from proximity to power, are already lobbying to build a future from the dictator’s throne.

The fact that Raúl Guillermo Rodríguez Castro, more widely known as “The Crab,” is in one of the leading contenders seems like a joke. To gain attention, he began promoting an incoherent platform which, to be honest, makes him look more like someone with a propensity for blunders who is planning an unsuccessful coup.

“Raulito is a moron. He lacks self-control so he acts first and thinks later. But he is not completely clueless. He is trying to get out from under the shadows by displaying his power, just like other aspirants for the top job. He knows that by mid-2017, which begins in a few days, the initial debate will begin on a successor to the post that everyone covets: Secretary General of the Communist Party of Cuba,” says an elderly member of the National Assembly of People’s Power.

An economist by training, of limited intellect and functionally impaired from the use and abuse of steroids, he is equal parts embarrassment and failure. Recently named head of the Department of Personal Security (DSP), he tried to cement his support within the future government by announcing that by the middle of next year he would raise the salaries of the more than one thousand men who make up his personal army by fifty pesos a month.

It is worth noting, as I wrote some time ago, that the DSP includes 1) a traffic police unit, 2) a film unit, 3) a section devoted to documentation and emigration procedures, 4) a foreign relations department, 5) an anti-terrorist brigade, 6) sharpshooters, 7) divers, 8) explosive experts and 9) a medical department with clinics staffed with doctors, nurses, radiologists, lab technicians, physical and occupational therapists and specialists in other areas. Additionally, it runs 10) a technology and telecommunications division, 11) manufacturing workshops, 12) gymnasia, 13) a very efficient counterintelligence service and even 14) an employment agency that hires personnel who go on to work in the homes of the elite.

But rather than encouraging unanimity, the move is being viewed unfavorably by members of the DSP, who are responsible for protecting, guarding, spying on and taking care of Cuban leaders. Even with the raise they have been promised, they will still earn less than members of the special police unit working in popular tourist sites such as Plaza de San Francisco, Plaza de Armas and Plaza de la Catedral as well as in other areas in Old Havana.

The move has backfired. The discontent is such that soldiers and officers of what was once the most powerful bureau in both the Ministry of the Interior and in Cuba have handed in their resignations. This is not a trivial issue.

This is the last game… there is no direct elimination, no quarterfinals.


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