Skip to comments.Cuba's Communist Party replaces its head of ideology
Posted on 06/25/2003 12:33:23 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
HAVANA - Esteban Lazo, the head of Cuba's powerful Communist Party in the nation's capital, has replaced one of the party's founders in a key national post overseeing ideology, the daily newspaper Granma reported Tuesday.
Lazo, 59, replaces José Ramón Balaguer, 71, a fellow member of the party's governing politburo, as head of the ideological department dedicated to preserving and promoting support for the government's communist principles.
Granma, the voice of the Communist Party of Cuba, said the changes were made during a meeting overseen by Fidel Castro, who heads the party as first secretary.
Both men are seen as orthodox party leaders intensely loyal to Castro. A former Cuban ambassador to the Soviet Union, Balaguer in particular has long wielded much influence inside the party, which is technically separate from the government but populated by the same players.
Balaguer and Lazo also serve inside Cuba's government on the nation's supreme governing body, the Council of State that Castro heads as president. Lazo is also a first vice president on that council.
As the party's first secretary for Havana for nearly a decade, Lazo has been heavily involved in the government's ''battle of ideas,'' an ongoing ideological campaign launched during the international custody battle over the boy Elián González, who returned to his family in Cuba in June 2000.
The ongoing ideological campaign seeks to engage Cubans, particularly younger ones, in national politics and generate support for Castro and his policies.
It was not immediately clear what the move meant, but it follows by days the replacements last week of two Cabinet members -- the ministers of finance and transportation -- with younger people.
Balaguer, who served in the rebel army that fought during the revolution that brought Castro to power in January 1959, represents a slightly older generation of leaders, known as ''históricos'' for their role in Cuba's revolutionary history.
Lazo, although just 12 years younger, joined the party as a young man just four years after Castro formed his revolutionary government. One of the most visible black leaders in Cuba's power structure, Lazo has spent most of his adult years as a labor leader and as a regional party leader.
Cuban President Fidel Castro justified the executions of Jorge Luis Martinez Isaac, Lorenzo Enrique Copello Castillo and Barbaro Leodan Sevilla Garcia as a deterrent to another mass exodus. But some Cuba watchers, on and off the island, doubt that the three would have been put to death had they been white. ***
Esteban Lazo, right, stands next to President Fidel Castro during a rally in Havana, Cuba on April 6, 2003 in Havana, Cuba. Lazo, the head of Cuba's powerful Communist Party in the nation's capital, has replaced one of the party's founders in a key national post overseeing ideology, the daily newspaper Granma reported Tuesday, June 24, 2003. (AP Photo/Cristobal Herrera)
Cuban President Fidel Castro listens during a political rally in a working class suburb in Havana, June 7, 2003. Thousands of people gathered while Castro expressed his annoyance with the European Union for its decision to cut back diplomatic and political ties due to a recent crackdown on the island's dissidents. REUTERS/Claudia Daut