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Cuba’s geriatric leadership admits it lacks a reserve of well-trained replacement

Monday, April 18th 2011 - 06:38 UTC
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The ‘young’ Castro, (79), addressing the Communist Party congress The ‘young’ Castro, (79), addressing the Communist Party congress

Cuba will consider placing term limits on its leaders to assure new blood in the government, President Raul Castro said in a speech kicking off a Communist Party congress on the island he and his brother have led for more than five decades.

He said the government does not have “a reserve of well-trained replacements with sufficient experience and maturity” to replace the current leaders, most of whom are in their 70s and 80s.

“We have reached the conclusion that it is advisable to recommend limiting the time of service in high political and state positions to a maximum of two five-year terms,” he told 1,000 delegates at the congress, where economic reform is the main agenda item.

Castro, 79, said he would not be excluded from the limits, which will be discussed not at this congress, but a party conference next January.

Cuba's geriatric leadership has been a topic of concern for a government intent on assuring the survival of Cuban socialism and new faces could be elected to high party positions during the congress.

Long-tenured officials have been a trademark of Cuba since the 1959 revolution that put Fidel Castro in power.

Fidel Castro, who is 84 and did not attend the congress, ruled for 49 years and younger brother Raul Castro was defence minister for the same amount of time before taking over the presidency in 2008.

In the line of succession, first vice president Juan Machado Ventura is 80 and second vice president Ramiro Valdes is 77.

“It's really embarrassing that we have not solved this problem in more than half a century,” Castro said. “Although we kept trying to promote young people to senior positions, life proved that we did not always make the best choice,” he said.

Raul Castro was expected to be elected the party's First Secretary, a post he has filled unofficially since Fidel Castro fell ill in 2006. Fidel Castro only recently disclosed that he had left the post.

Castro told the congress, the party's first in 14 years, it would consider 311 proposed reforms during the four-day meeting, all aimed at remaking Cuba's creaking, Soviet-style economy.

The changes will reduce the size of the state and expand the private sector, while maintaining central planning.

Before the congress convened, Cuba staged a military parade to mark the 50th anniversaries of the US-backed Bay of Pigs invasion and the declaration of Cuban socialism.

On April 16, 1961, fearing US invasion was imminent Fidel Castro told Cubans the 1959 revolution he led from Sierra Maestra mountains was Marxist Leninist inspired.

“What the imperialists can't forgive us ... is that we have made a socialist revolution right under the nose of the United States,” he proclaimed in speech paying tribute to victims of pre-invasion bombing raids the previous day.

On April 17, a force of CIA-trained Cuban exiles, backed by US ships and planes, came ashore at the Bay of Pigs 160 km southeast of Havana in a bloody attempt to spark a counter-revolution.

Castro rallied tens of thousands of troops and citizens to the battle and two days later declared victory as the attackers fled or were killed or captured in the botched invasion.

The triumph by tiny Cuba versus the superpower 145 km away won Castro favour at home and abroad and is portrayed by Cuban leaders as one of their greatest accomplishments.

Categories: Politics, Latin America.

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  • GeoffWard

    “What the imperialists can't forgive us ... is that we have made a socialist revolution right under the nose of the United States,”

    A socialist revolution into a FAILED STATE of geriatrics.

    “So . . . . , lets try the Chinese model of state controlled capitalism.
    Well, it seems to work for the Chinese, maybe it can get US out of the shit we're in.” (Just thinking aloud)

    Apr 18th, 2011 - 08:50 pm 0
  • RICO

    “What the imperialists can't forgive us ... is that we have made a socialist revolution right under the nose of the United States,”

    Yes after years of aid from the Soviet Union and more recently Venezuela who continued to prop up this hereditary socialist dictatorship despite economic problems and poverty in their own home countries and still Cuba is a basket case.

    Apr 18th, 2011 - 11:22 pm 0
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