Steely Raúl's Time Is Now

Low-profile No. 2, Fidel's 'organizational glue,' steps into Cuba's top job
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 20, 2008 9:37 AM CST
Raul Castro, left, stands next to his brother and then rebel leader Fidel Castro, bottom, and an unidentified fighter, as they operate against dictator Fulgencio Batista from Cuba's eastern mountains...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – The Castro brothers overthrew a dictatorship and won a revolution together, but while charismatic Fidel was the public face giving passionate seven-hour speeches, steely Raúl quietly got it done—ruthlessly sending dissenters to the firing squad, earning him the nickname "the Prussian." As Fidel fades, writes the Times of London, 76-year-old Raúl will finally step into the spotlight.

The "organizational glue" in his brother's dictatorship, Raúl commands Cuba's military, security services, and Communist Party. He's served as interim leader since July 2006, but without Fidel, one expert says, “Raúl will have to renegotiate an agreement with the Cuban people.” He may introduce a Chinese-style relaxation of economic controls, but one-party rule isn't going anywhere.