After Castro, Collective Rule Seems Likely
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HAVANA — From his sickbed, Fidel Castro has set the stage for a more collective style of governance in a country long used to a single strongman, selecting six trusted comrades to run key projects while his brother acts as president and head of the Communist Party.
The division of powers gives the first solid indication of the direction that the Cuban government is likely to take after Mr. Castro’s death.
In a statement announcing his illness Monday night, Mr. Castro said his brother and the longtime defense minister, Raul Castro, was in charge of the government, the ruling party, and the military during a recovery expected to take weeks.
But Mr. Castro distributed responsibility for running and funding his pet projects among six men, including Vice President Carlos Lage, Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque, and the Central Bank president, Francisco Soberon.
He also named the Communist Party as the guiding force for ensuring his instructions were followed.
“There is no doubt that our people and our Revolution will fight to the last drop of blood to defend these and other ideas and measures that are necessary to safeguard this historic process,” Mr. Castro wrote.
Raul Castro recently hinted at a shared future style of governance, noting that his brother was a singular type of leader and saying the party — not any individual — would be Mr. Castro’s true successor.
The elder Mr. Castro, 79, is famous for wanting to have a say in virtually every area of the island’s governance.
The party newspaper Granma underscored that point yesterday, saying “the special confidence the people grant the founding leader of a revolution cannot be transmitted as if it were an inheritance to those who will occupy the top positions in the country in the future.”
Yesterday, Raul Castro still had not been seen in public, and no official updates on Fidel Castro’s condition were released.
Next to his brother, Mr. Castro gave the heaviest responsibilities to Mr. Lage, charging him with overseeing his ongoing “energy revolution” — a massive renovation of the island’s antiquated electrical grid.
A generation younger than Mr. Castro at 54, Mr. Lage is credited with helping save Cuba’s faltering economy after the Soviet Union broke up, designing modest economic reforms that allowed foreign investment in state enterprises and legalized the use of the American dollar. Those reforms have been rolled back as the economy improves.
Trained as a pediatrician, Mr. Lage is a mild-mannered, balding man with a pleasant face, who is often sent to represent Cuba at international gatherings. He has wide control over government administration and holds key positions in the Council of State and Politburo.
Representing an even younger generation is Mr. Perez Roque, 41, just 34 when appointed foreign minister in 1999. Mr. Perez Roque previously spent seven years overseeing Mr. Castro’s personal schedule, becoming intimately familiar with the leader’s thinking.