Cuba's leadership 10 years from now: some predictions.How and when will Cuba's leadership--dominated at its highest level for years by the now-fading generation of historicos--finally give way to new blood?
While no one knows for sure, it's safe to make several general assumptions.
President Raul Castro, 82, will remain in power for another five years, unless of course he dies first. He will then step down, seeking to make an example of his "10-year terms."
Assuming older brother Fidel will not be around any longer, this decision should be fairly easy to implement.
Cuba's current first vice-president, Jose Ramon Machado Ventura, 83, will follow the same pattern--although most probably Machado's own "stepping down" will take place earlier, so that whoever comes next will be "trained" at Raul's side.
Ricardo Alarcon de Quesada, the 75-year-old chairman of Cuba's National Assembly, should not be perceived as a strong candidate for president, except in case of extraordinary circumstances (such as Raul's sudden death).
Despite Alarcon's talent and his popular standing within various sectors of the ruling class and among intellectuals, his time will also come to an end with that of Raul.
A second laver consists mainly of three men: Leopoldo Cintra Frias, 72, minister of the Revolutionary Armed Forces; Abelardo Colome Ibarra, 74, minister of interior, and Vice President Ramiro Valdes Menendez, 80.
Cintra Frias isn't at all interested in becoming a presidential candidate, despite his many merits and popular standing.
He'll remain for another five years, if not more, at the helm doing what he knows best. After all, as chief of FAR he still plays a crucial role in any political equation.
To a lesser extent, Colome Ibarra also follows the same pattern of "the right man in the right position."
Valdes Menendez has always played important roles within Cuba's leadership. Besides his historical bona fides, he's overwhelmingly perceived today--including by many young technocrats--as the most qualified of any leader to take over as president and push forward the current reforms.
If, in the absence of unexpected developments, the next president should still come from within the ranks of the historicos, then Ramiro Valdes Menendez will be the best candidate for another short mandate.
CUBA S GENERACION INTERMEDIA
After that comes what can best be described as the post-revolution generation, consisting of what was called in the early 1990s the generation intermedia--leaders then in their 30s who were being promoted directly from the leadership ranks of the Union of Communist Youth (UJC).
This group of men and women, mostly now in their late 40s and early 50s, suffered a disastrous first round of results between 1991 and 2009--losing their positions in the Politburo, the Central Committee and the Council of Ministers. Some even lost their membership in the Cuban Communist Party.
These include Roberto Robaina, Victoria Velazquez, Nelson Torres, Juan Carlos Robinson, Marcos Portal, Jorge Luis Sierra, Carlos Dotres, Orlando Rodriguez Romay, Wilfredo Lopez, Carlos Lage, Felipe Perez Roque, Pedro Saez, Jose Luis Rodriguez, Fernando Remirez Estenoz and others.
The reasons for their downfall had little to do with politics or issues of any sort, but rather major policy and administrative blunders, corruption scandals, personal misconduct or specific acts of wrongdoing that in most cases were fully documented.
All are now history, having returned to their private lives and professions. Some are even reformed small-business executives.
They've since been replaced by an entirely new layer of cadres who now control 90% of Cuba's power structure--provincial party leaders, most of the new Central Committee, the Secretariat, the Council of Ministers and the officers' corps of FAR/MININT
Three have been promoted to the Politburo: Marino Murillo Jorge, 51; Mercedes Lopez Acea, 52, and Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermiidez, 51. Murillo and Diaz-Canel, have also been named vice-presidents.
THE LAST OF THE HISTORICOS
Looking at key positions in the Cuban government today, it's apparent that this post-revolution generacion intermedia is already well represented. Murillo heads the all-important Common tie Implementation de los Lineamientos. As such, it's his job to implement and supervise the reforms adopted at the Sixth Party Congress in April 2011.
Division Gen. (DG) Onelio Aguilera Bermiidez, 54, is currently chief of the most powerful army in Cuba, the Eastern Army, and Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla, 53, is minister of foreign affairs.
These are clear indications of the decision by the historicos to promote their younger colleagues as they themselves die out. It also lays out the standards to be followed for the coming promotion of 20% of new members to the Central Committee.
By the time Raul actually steps down, many of these new faces may have already been promoted to higher positions within the Party and the government itself.
The bestcase scenario is for all this to unfold within the next five years--and that instead of keeping top positions in the hands of Ramiro and others, younger leaders in their 50s would be the ones taking over long before 2020, maybe even before that.
It will then be their jobs to lead the second stage of Cuba's complete transformation along the lines of a modernized socialist market economy--with all the resulting social, cultural, economic and political implications.
RELATED ARTICLE: OFAC fine-tunes Cuba travel regulations
In response to complaints by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) about "frivolous" people-to-people programs that do nothing to promote political change in Cuba, the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has made some minor revisions in its regulations governing travel to Cuba.
Rubio had blocked Roberta Jacobson's nomination as the top U.S. diplomat for Latin America until the White House addressed some of the senator's gripes, such as cultural exchange programs that include salsa lessons, trips to the beach and meetings with top Cuban government officials.
Jacobson was finally sworn in last month.
"I think it's progress, because the changes require closer reviews of the itineraries," the Cuban-American lawmaker told reporters in Miami. "But I still have concerns about the program in general, because it is difficult to manage and avoid abuses."
In his blog, 'The Cuban Triangle" Phil Peters says that "in the absence of a plain English, side-by-side comparison of the old and the new," his reading is that the change consists of adding the following:
* A clarification of an existing requirement that licensees have an employee or consultant accompanying each group of travelers; i.e., a licensee cannot send a group to Cuba to be led by a Cuban guide or a foreign national.
* A clarification that the program activities must serve one or more of these objectives: enhancing contact with the Cuban people, supporting civil society, promoting independence from Cuban authorities.
* A requirement that applicants (or licensees seeking renewal) explain, if their itineraries include meetings "hosted by" high-level government or Communist Party officials, how such meetings serve one or more of the objectives listed above.
Former Cuban intelligence officer Domingo Amuchastegui has lived in Miami since 1994. He writes regularly for CubaNews on the Communist Party, South Florida's exile community and the internal politics of Cuba.