Cuba Sackings May Be Olive Branch to US

Castro replaced 'pugnacious' minister with diplomat
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Mar 5, 2009 2:35 PM CST
Raul Castro, left, sacked former Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque, right, and removed Carlos Lage, center, from his position as secretary of the Council of Ministers.   (AP Photo/Javier Galeano)
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(Newser) – Raul Castro’s overhaul of Cuban ministers may be meant to ease tensions with the US under President Obama, writes Tim Padgett in Time. Cuba’s president replaced a “pugnacious” former foreign minister who had close ties to Fidel with a longtime UN ambassador—and the move occurred the same week the Senate votes on legislation that could relax the trade embargo.

“Putting in someone who's a technocrat and not an ideologue will be perceived as a small sign of something positive in Washington,” said one US expert on Cuba relations. Stateside, President Obama “knows that opening up to the island” is key to fixing US-Latin American relations, Padgett writes. Still, we can’t yet be sure what Castro’s intentions are. As one analyst sees it, the move “was more about streamlining bureaucracy than any response to the Obama administration.”