Raul Castro Modifies His Brother's Orders / Juan Juan Almeida
Juan Juan Almeida, 27 March 2017 — At age 85, infirm, and ten months
from his much trumpeted retirement, Raul Castro directs the Minister of
the Revolutionary Armed Forces to modify Order Number One of the
deceased Commander in Chief.
According to an unexpectedly transparent account from a corpulent and
not very young Cuban official, "Cuba has a rusty army that, taking into
account all its forces — land, sea and air — as well as reservists,
exceeds 700,000 troops [in a country of just over 11 million people].
Every unit, regiment or battalion chief dictates an Order One, that
rules the behavior of the men under his command.
"For his part, the Commander in Chief, which in Cuba is the same person
as the head of state, decrees an Order One, that governs the conduct of
the members of all institutions, be they military or not, charged with
the defense and security of the state.
"To violate this precept, as many of us know, could be considered an act
of high treason and imply a penalty that ranges from a warning to the
death penalty. It is so stipulated in martial law.
"But Fidel is water under the bridge, he's dead, and although Raul has
chosen not to call himself Commander in Chief out of respect for the
memory of the leader of the Cuban Revolution, the reality is that when
he inherited the post of head of state, he also inherited that
'honorific rank.' So now, that he is the Commander in Chief should he
change the Order? Not necessarily."
"The Order One," he continues, "obliges all the military, among other
things, not to have relations with foreigners, counterrevolutionaries or
emigres, and to endure with stoicism the rigors of service. That has to
change, not because the Commander died, it is transformed because the
operative situation changed, the world scenario and the sociopolitical
conditions of Cuba.
"We see," he reflects, "Today, there are fewer trees among the so-called
Amazons, family and friends of Cuban leaders, officials, military and
revolutionaries living outside this country. Some are coming back,that's
great; but it is not fair, nor ethical, nor moral, that so long as it is
forbidden for many, some, I among them, have an exemption to engage with
our exiled relatives, which, to a large extent, I must admit, left
because of us. That is why the law changes, by the force that, with
great dignity, some officers are doing that which we don't want to call
"The other reason is more obvious," he adds. "At the time that mandate
arose, back in the 60s, there was no economic conglomerate of Cuban
soldiers with the force today held by the military run GAESA Group
(Business Administration Group SA). The negotiations of this group, or
of the Universal Stores, the Mariel Special Economic Zone, or ANTEX,
ALMEST, GEOCUBA, GAVIOTA, TECNOTEX, any of the 57 companies owned by the
Armed Forces or other civilian companies run by the military are carried
out with foreigners, or with emigrant Cubans who now reside abroad. The
order fell into obscurity, so that, following it closely, even Luis
Alberto Rodríguez Lopez-Callejas [Raul Castro's son-in-law] should be
tried, and sentenced to life imprisonment for violating the regulations."
"We have to change things," he tells me like a punch line, "but
modifying Order One is only one part of an integrated agenda that
includes repealing outdated laws and instituting others that don't
hinder the transition to a more democratic, more participate and open
society, without abandoning our principles."
Source: Raul Castro Modifies His Brother's Orders / Juan Juan Almeida –
Translating Cuba -