March 3, 2009
HAVANA (AP) — President Raul Castro shook up Cuba's top leadership on Monday, replacing key figures tied to his brother Fidel Castro with others apparently closer to him. The abrupt shakeup came a year after Fidel Castro handed the presidency to his younger brother because of poor health. It was announced at the end of the midday news, after the weather and sports. Perhaps the most prominent of those ousted, Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque, was the youngest of Cuba's top leaders and had been widely mentioned as a possible future president. Perez Roque, 43, was replaced by his own deputy, Bruno Rodriguez. Vice President Carlos Lage, 57, apparently kept his job as vice president of the ruling Council of State, but was replaced as Cabinet Secretary by Gen. Jose Amado Ricardo Guerra, who had been a top official in the military that Raul Castro ran for decades. Lage was credited with helping save Cuba's economy by designing modest economic reforms after the Soviet Union collapsed. Perez Roque was once personal secretary to Fidel Castro and a former leader of the Communist Party youth organization. He had been foreign minister for almost a decade. Among the others ousted was Economy Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez, Finance Minister Georgina Barreiro Fajardo and Labor Minister Alfredo Morales Cartaya. Several ministries were combined in the shakeup. The communique said the decision matched President Raul Castro's desire for a "more compact" and efficient government. Fidel Castro has not been seen in public since July 2006, when he underwent emergency intestinal surgery.