New Council of Ministers named

Cuba’s National Assembly has approved the appointment of a new Council of Ministers, largely maintaining the body’s previous political/technical balance, while retaining senior members of Cuba’s older political generation.

Those named as Vice Presidents of what is in effect the body charged with delivering government policy, include Salvador Valdés Mesa, the former labour leader, who in April was chosen as First Vice President of the Council of State and Council of Ministers. In addition, two further Vice Presidents were appointed. They are Inés María Chapman Waugh, a hydraulic engineer who previously led the National Institute of Hydraulic Resources, and Roberto Morales Ojeda, a doctor who had served as Minister of Public Health since 2013. Both had been appointed in April to be Vice Presidents of the Council of State.

Remaining in place are the three Vice Presidents, Comandante Ramiro Valdes, Ricardo Cabrisas and General Ulises Rosales del Toro. The Foreign Minster Bruno Rodriguez, the Foreign Trade and Investment Minister Rodrigo Malmierca, and the Finance Minister, Lina Peraza also retain their posts. Vice President Cabrisas hands his position as Minister of Economy and Planning, to his former deputy, Alejandro Gil Fernandez.

Departures include Marino Murillo the President and Chief Executive of the Permanent Commission for Implementation and Development of Cuba’s economic guidelines (lineamientos) who is regarded as economic reform oriented. Also leaving is Abel Prieto as Minister of Culture. Over the last eighteen months he has taken a conservative line in relation to youth and the role of new and old media and on cultural issues in Cuba’s future development. He is replaced by Alpidio Alonso Grau, a poet and editor.

Joining the Council of Ministers are José Ángel Portal Miranda, who replaces Morales as Minister of Public Health, and Antonio Rodríguez, who takes over Chapman’s quasi-ministerial role as President of the National Institute of Hydraulic Resources. The other new members of the Council of Ministers are: Iris Quiñones Rojas, Minister of the Food Industry; Betsy Díaz Velázquez, Minister of Domestic Trade; Raúl García Barreiro, Minister of Energy and Mines; Jorge Luis Perdomo Di-Lella, Minister of Communications; and Oscar Manuel Silveira Martínez, Minister of Justice.

All other Ministers and members of the Council of Ministers who served previously were reappointed. José Amado Ricardo Guerra, a former senior military officer, remains in the role of Secretary to the Council of Ministers.

While making several new appointments and seeing the departure of others, a first analysis suggests that Party and National Assembly have decided to maintain the previous political/technical balance when delivering government policy while retaining several senior members of Cuba’s older generation.

In due course, if proposed constitutional changes are agreed (Cuba Briefing July 16, 2018) the Council of Ministers would be led by a first minister.  It is widely assumed this will be President Diaz-Canel. Former President Castro speaking on stepping down in April said that he hoped Diaz-Canel would lead the Communist Party when he steps down in 2021 (Cuba Briefing April 23, 2018).

A full list of the new Council of Ministers with links to their biographies can be found in Spanish at

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