Aljazeera: Cuban revolution ages as Raul Castro turns 81
Cuban President Raul Castro has turned 81-years-old, exposing for another year the absence of indicators that the country’s leadership is moving quickly to prepare younger successors.
Castro, who celebrated his birthday on Sunday, proposed in April 2011 to impose term limits on everyone in government including himself, but this is yet to be enacted. His retired older brother Fidel is 85-years-old. His two top deputies are 81- and 80-years-old respectively.
“Time and again they’ve postponed elevating figures from the next generation to the top levels of leadership,” said Philip Peters, a Cuba analyst at the Virginia-based Lexington Institute.
“It creates some uncertainty.”
Discussion of the Castros’ eventual demise crops up year after year in a testament to their staying power, and it is a reminder to his countrymen and to the exiles who hate him that time is catching up with the island’s aging revolutionaries.
But the march of time has been particularly hard on the brothers recently.
The Castros’ oldest sister, Angela, died in February at 88-years-old following a long illness.
In September, the president lost a confidant in General Julio Casas Regueiro, his longtime ally and successor as defence minister.
“Casas’ death I think took his breath away, because Casas died instantly and Casas really was his right hand,” said Ann Louise Bardach, a Cuba expert and author of “Without Fidel: A Death Foretold in Miami, Havana and Washington”.
“He had a heart attack and was gone, and at [75-years-old] he was their young spring chicken,” Bardach said.
Analysts say Castro has peppered top provincial positions and his Cabinet with new faces, including women and Afro-Cubans, some of them in their 50s.
People such as economic reform czar Marino Murillo, Cabinet Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel and Havana Communist Party boss Mercedes Lopez Acea wield considerable influence in their posts, but none is an obvious heir-apparent.
Castro is believed to be in good health, with no sign of serious physical infirmity. When Pope Benedict XVI visited the island in March and met with both brothers, Raul seemed by far the most spry and energetic of the three octogenarians…..Read More
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