Raul Castro Ousts Top Fidel Loyalists

By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 2, 2009 7:45 PM CST
Cuba's President Raul Castro looks on during his meeting with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, unseen, in Moscow's Kremlin, Russia, Friday, Jan. 30, 2009.   (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
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(Newser) – President Raul Castro abruptly ousted some of Cuba's most powerful officials today, remaking the government in the biggest shakeup since he took over from his ailing brother Fidel Castro a year ago, the AP reports. The changes replaced some key Fidel loyalists, including the longtime foreign minister, with men closer to Raul. They also reduced the enormous powers of a vice president credited with saving Cuba's economy after the fall of the Soviet Union.

The most prominent of those ousted, Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque, was the youngest of Cuba's top leaders and had been widely mentioned as a possible future president. "He was someone who was very close to Fidel Castro," one expert said. But analysts saw no immediate indication that the changes are related to hopes for closer US-Cuban ties now that both countries have new presidents.