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Alejandro Castro is today the owner of the Castro dynasty.

With the death of Luis Alberto Rodríguez López-Calleja, the way is open for Alejandro Castro Espín to take the reins of power.

Alejandro Castro and López-Callejas controlled the key government institutions that make them the rulers of Cuba.

Alejandro oversees Cuba’s military and civilian intelligence services and as such is an enforcer of communist orthodoxy and loyalty. López-Callejas controlled GAESA, a military-run conglomerate that is in charge of at least half of Cuba’s economy.

Both Alejandro and Luis reflect the continuing power of the armed forces, a reflection of Raúl Castro’s control of the armed forces over several decades.

In addition, their positions of power guarantee the economic interests and social status of the extended Castro family. The Castro clan has grown rich on an impoverished and formally classless society. Forbes magazine once estimated Fidel Castro’s net worth at $900 million; Raúl is a modest $150 million, by other counts.

Lax use of social media exposed their high standard of living to the public. Various grandchildren of Raúl and Fidel have been seen yachting the Mediterranean, touring Paris, frequenting the VIP sections of Havana’s nightclubs, and frolicking in family villas on Cuba’s best beaches. A grandson of Fidel Castro recently apologized for an online selfie video he took while driving a Mercedes Benz and talking about other “toys” he enjoyed at home.

Along with the visible wealth of Cuba’s longtime first family, the country faces a problem that has dogged other aging communist states: the unwillingness of entrenched powers to cede full control to successors.

The ambiguity of Cuba’s current pyramid of power is rooted in Raúl Castro’s longstanding role as a close adviser to his brother Fidel, as well as his position as minister of the armed forces. He stepped down from that post in 2008, as he gradually assumed full power as head of the Communist Party and head of state after Fidel fell ill in 2006.

Alejandro Castro, an army colonel attached to the Ministry of the Interior, played the role of trusted adviser to the top boss. He was involved in secret negotiations with the Obama regime to renew diplomatic relations with Washington and was at Raúl’s side when the Cuban leader met with Pope Francis at the Vatican.

In his job at the Ministry of the Interior, Alejandro oversees the intelligence services of both the armed forces and the Ministry of the Interior.

Alejandro’s hand in information (he heads a permanent anti-corruption investigative commission) makes him feared not only by political dissidents but also by ambitious politicians within the Communist Party. In 2009, he overheard two top officials, one a foreign minister and the other a vice president, casually discussing a post-Castro succession. Fidel quickly fired them both.

GAESA governed by the late López Calleja controls more than 1,000 state entities, including dairy cows such as hotels, exchange houses that handle remittances from abroad, banks, a credit card company, stores that sell imported products, satellite television services, telecommunications, a new port east of Havana, offshore companies used to skirt US trade restrictions, and restaurants and bars in Old Havana, one of the capital’s main tourist districts.

If you order a daiquiri at Bar Floridita, Ernest Hemingway’s favorite place, you are filling GAESA’s coffers.

Where will that money go from today? Rest assured, with Alejandro Castro Espín he is the owner of the Castro dynasty.

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José Martí
José Martí
Nacionalista cubano, poeta, filósofo, ensayista, periodista, traductor, profesor y editor.

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