The Cuban government yesterday announced on state television changes in leadership at the ministries of construction and telecommunications. Former Minister of Construction Fidel Figueroa was dismissed due to unspecified “errors” and will be replaced by Rene Mesa Villafana, former head of Cuba’s state water supplier. No indication was given if there was simple mismanagement or malfeasance in the ministry. Former telecommunications Minister Ramiro Valdés, 78, will also relinquish his post to 48-year-old army general and communications engineer Medardo Díaz Toledo.
Mr. Valdés, who fought alongside Fidel Castro and his forces during the revolutions and is also a former interior minister, is considered a close ally of President Raúl Castro. He will retain his title of vice-president and, according to the statement, will have more time to oversee the leadership of both” his old ministry” (Interior) and the construction ministry.
These latest changes follow a series of Cabinet reshufflings in recent months as Cuba tries to revitalize its ailing economy by removing a half million public sector workers and opening up new opportunities for self-employment and entrepreneurship. In September, for example, the government announced the removed the minister of oil and mining, Yadira Garcia, in a sternly worded statement citing “deficiencies” and “weak manner.”