Cuba economy minister replaced, to focus on reform
By Rosa Tania Valdes
HAVANA | Fri Mar 25, 2011 10:54pm EDT
(Reuters) – Cuban Economy Minister Marino Murillo has been replaced by
his top deputy so he can concentrate on overseeing economic reforms
expected to be approved at an upcoming Communist Party conference, the
Cuban government said on Friday.
An official note read on state-run television said First Vice Minister
Adel Izquierdo, 65, would take over the job in a move proposed by
President Raul Castro.
Murillo will stay on as vice president in the Council of Ministers and
as coordinator of the congress's Economic Policy Commission, where he
will be in charge of "supervising the implementation of measures
associated with the updating of the Cuban economic model," the statement
He "will have to concentrate his work after the approval of the economic
and social policy guidelines of the party and the revolution," it said.
Murillo will "look after" the Economy Ministry and other "productive
sectors," it said.
Murillo took center stage in December at a National Assembly meeting
where he outlined proposed reforms to Cuba's Soviet-style economy and
explained the inefficiencies and policy failures that made them necessary.
Afterwards, some had pegged him as future presidential material when
Cuba's current, aging leadership moves on.
Whether Friday's change was a promotion or demotion was not clear, but
there have been rumors of late that Murillo was on the hot seat for a
slow start to reforms.
Castro wants to strengthen Cuba's troubled economy by expanding
"non-state" retail and agriculture activities, making state-run
companies more efficient and reducing government expenditures.
More than 170,000 self-employment licenses have been issued, but his
plan to chop 500,000 workers from government payrolls by this month had
to be put off indefinitely because of an assortment of problems,
including worker resistance and a lack of alternative jobs.
The Communist Party congress, set for April 16-19, will be the first
since 1997. Its primary task is to approve 32 pages of guidelines for
Castro, who officially succeeded older brother Fidel Castro as president
three years ago, has said the reforms are needed to assure the survival
of Cuban communism after current leaders are gone.
(Writing by Jeff Franks; Editing by Philip Barbara)