The Two of Us
For those of us who are interested in (or obsessed by?) everything to do with Cuba, the photograph above is of most significant. Or not.
It is a photograph of the Cuban Minister for Foreign Affairs, Felipe Perez Roque, getting ready for a media conference in Havana on the eve of the Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement, which starts today.
Perez Roque (he is the one in the suit), has often been described, only half in jest, as His Master’s Voice because he is close to Fidel Castro and would never do or say anything to upset the old dictator.
He is seen by some outside Cuba as a key player in any post-Castro transition, which is a bit of a worry since from all accounts, the man supposedly in charge of the regime’s diplomacy is not quite what you’d call an independent or innovative thinker. Then again ...
But of even greater import (or not) is the man standing behind Perez Roque in this photograph.
He is General Ramiro Valdes. Name sounds familiar? It should. Only a few days ago, it was announced that Valdes, who fought with Castro against the Batista government in the late 1950s, had been appointed the new Minister for Information Sciences and Communications. You can read all about it in this previous post.
A one-time Minister for the Interior, Valdes is close to the ailing dictator, having been in charge of the regime’s secret police and its entire repression apparatus for many years.
And now, here is Ramiro, wearing a fine linen guayabera (rather than his regular Army uniform), and standing right behind the younger Perez Roque. A most peculiar double act. Or perhaps just a coincidence.