William M. LeoGrande Headshot

The Party and the Army: Civil-Military Relations in Cuba

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When Raúl Castro became president of Cuba in his own right in 2008, he replaced most of his brother Fidel's cabinet with ministers of his own choosing. In March 2009, he announced a sweeping reorganization of the government bureaucracy, replacing nine veteran ministers and firing Fidel's proteges, Carlos Lage, the de facto prime minister, and Felipe Pérez-Roque, the foreign minister. By 2012, across 26 ministries, only three of Fidel's appointees were still in office. Raúl's new ministers came from the ranks of experienced professionals, a number of them from the armed forces.

Today, eight ministries are led by career military officers, three of whom are still on active duty. Of the 10 vice-presidents of the Council of Ministers, five are active-duty or former career military officers, not counting Raúl himself. Of the 13 members of the Political Bureau of the Cuban Communist Party, four are active-duty generals and another is retired military, again not counting Raúl.

Both in Cuba and abroad, the prominence of so many senior officers in civilian posts has prompted speculation about a military "takeover" of the Cuban government. But to regard this circulation of elites as breaching some clear divide between civilian and military roles is to misunderstand the nature of civil-military relations in Cuba...

Read more at World Politics Review...

Coming soon! Back Channel to Cuba: The Hidden History of Negotiations between Washington and Havana by William M. LeoGrande and Peter Kornbluh.