General Luis Alberto Rodriguez Lopez-Calleja, one of Cuba’s most prominent men, ended up dead this Friday of a cardiac arrest, according to official media, creating a crucial void in the communist-run region’s political and financial hierarchy.
Lopez-Calleja, 62, was a part of the ruling Communist Party’s political council, the peak and average body. He was previously wedded to Deborah Castro, child of recently retired Cuban leader Raul Castro.
About Lopez-Calleja in personal and political life-
Lopez-Calleja maintained a quiet front and barely appeared in pictures or on tv. Still, his power, particularly over the business, had grown significantly since President Miguel Diaz-Canel took over from Castro in 2018.
Lopez-Calleja, a personal friend of Castro’s, had been the chairman of GAESA, a conglomerate of military-owned firms that govern most of Cuba’s industry, from luxurious resorts for visitors to stores selling items in a different currency to Cubans.
As per William LeoGrande, a government lecturer at American University in Washington, the general’s passing, who used to be a consultant to Diaz-Canel, represents a blow for GAESA’s administration.
“Lopez-Calleja played a central role in the success of the foreign-exchange-earnings businesses under the umbrella of the GAESA conglomerate.” He added-“Whoever succeeds him, both at GAESA and in the political bureau, will immediately become one of Cuba’s most influential leaders, especially on economic policy,” LeoGrande said.
Rodriguez’s links with GAESA-
Rodriguez, a former military commander approved by the US Treasury in 2020, was the executive president of the Grupo de Administracion Empresarial, or GAESA. This army conglomerate owns banking institutions, independent retailers, bars and cafes, money-changing functions, pharma laboratories, and most of the island’s luxury resorts. In the Nov. 2015 issue of Bloomberg Markets, he was featured.
On the socialist island, Rodriguez exercised enormous political authority. He was regarded as a comrade of former President Raul Castro, 91, and was briefly his son-in-law. In addition to his work at GAESA, he was a fellow of the politburo of Cuba’s Communist Party, the country’s only recognized major organization, and an establishment of the National Assembly.