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What will relations between the Army and the Communist Party be like when Raúl Castro steps down as President?

The DDC addresses, with the help of six analysts, several key issues before the transfer of power within Castroism. This is the first:


Rafael Rojas, historian and essayist:

I don't think the relationship between the Army and the Party will be any less harmonious than it has always been in Cuba, under the current political system. Raúl Castro is the highest authority in both institutions. The leadership of the Council of State and of Ministers in the hands of his successor will not shift the axis of loyalty so long as Raúl lives.

More conflictive could be relations between the Government and the Party, which have not been so separated since 1976.

Media for exiles often states that Miguel Díaz-Canel could be a figurehead president, like Osvaldo Dorticós, but the latter did not head the Government, and Díaz-Canel would.

The greatest conflicts could come from the separation of functions between the Party and the Government, especially at the provincial and local levels.

Pedro Campos, former diplomat and analyst:

Power in Cuba was conceived to be exercised by a single person: the secretary of the Communist Party (PCC) and President of the Councils of State and Ministers, tailored to the deceased dictator, who, in turn, determined who would be the secretaries of the PCC in the provinces, all of whom were beholden to him, personally.

The dictator handled all the money in the country, decided how much to invest, in what, and where, until the Armed Forces (FAR) began to create their economic empire.

Without changing that structure, Raúl Castro tried to make it work without Fidel's leadership, and without a substantial economy to manage, as the most lucrative and promising sectors - communications, foreign exchange and the internal the internal foreign currency market - fell into the hands of the military.

Relations between the Army and the Party may change, depending on the ultimate correlation of forces at the next Council of State and in the Political Bureau. If the FAR (armed forces) maintain qualitative control, not precisely a majority, due to the political clout of the figures in the Council of State and in the Political Bureau, existing contradictions, due to the military's control of the economy and key sectors, such as tourism, could grow more acute.

If there are changes in favor of civilians, tensions may increase and relations become strained.

The area of ​​the State economy, which works with Cuban pesitos, could press more in favor of monetary reunification and the control of tourism in the provinces, where the Party is more powerful.

In any case, the most visible clashes could occur between the FAR and the bureaucratic apparatuses of the central administration of the State, if there is a clear separation between the Council of Ministers and the Council of State, if the president of the Council of Ministers is not also the president of the Council of State and the first secretary of the PCC, a concentration of the power that can now be divided according to what the ruling elite decides.

Thus, a more specific answer to this question could come after April, when the Plenary of the Central Committee of the PCC and the National Assembly meetings have been held, where it will be defined whether there will be a separation of powers, who will lead, and how the Political Bureau, Council of State and the Council of Ministers will be integrated.

Carlos Alberto Montaner, journalist and writer:

At least for a certain time, the most important thing will be the Army. Initially the Communist Party will be subordinated to the FAR. Eventually, that could change.

The FAR's function is not to manage hotels.

Juan Antonio Blanco, director of the Foundation for Human Rights in Cuba

Relations between the Army and the Communist Party will remain what they've always been. In Cuba the Political Bureau does not rule, but rather an elite power structure composed of military figures, some of whom are in the leadership of the Communist Party (PCC), while others are not. The PCC and the Government are subordinated, in practice, to the whims of that clique. That powerful elite does not have a formal institutional base, but rather relies on relationships of trust between a group of people, officers, who make decisions at key institutions. In Poland, when Jaruzelski displaced the party and the Government, it was revealed how these legal formalities in totalitarian and police countries are a total façade.

Omar López Montenegro, Director of Human Rights at the National Cuban American Foundation

Relations between the PCC and the Army will remain unchanged. What will happen on April 19 has no influence on these two structures, as it concerns the Council of State. The overlapping of military power and Castro's is guaranteed by the fact that the main figures in the Army are also members of the Political Bureau and the Central Committee of the PCC. The subordination of "civilian" power to this ideological-military tandem is guaranteed by Article 5 of the Cuban Constitution, which establishes the guiding role of the PCC in society.

Lartiza Diversent, lawyer, director of the Legal Information Center, Cubalex

In my opinion, there will be no changes, and certainly no tension. The decision for another person to occupy the position of President of the Council of State and Ministers (Head of State and Government) does not affect the current power structures at all. That person was appointed a long time ago for that position, even before the elections were decided. I think all the speculation about who it will be is just to put some color in a bleak picture, and a way to keep the international community entertained – delusionally thinking that changes are taking place in Cuba from a political point of view.

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