Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Cuban attorney general out due to health reasons

Posted on Tuesday, 03.23.10
Cuban attorney general out due to health reasons
Associated Press Writer

HAVANA -- Cuba announced its second leadership shake-up of the month on
Tuesday, replacing Attorney General Juan Escalona Reguera, who fought
under Fidel and Raul Castro in the rebel army that toppled dictator
Fulgencio Batista more than half a century ago.

A brief statement read on Cuban state television said the 78-year-old
Escalona was leaving his post for health reasons. He apparently remains
a member of the Communist Party Central Committee.

A lawyer by training, Escalona is one of the most veteran figures in
Cuba's revolutionary leadership, joining Raul Castro's rebel column in
eastern Cuba in 1958, and presiding over the wedding of Raul Castro and
Vilma Espin the following year. He served as a brigadier general and top
administrator before becoming Justice Minister in 1983, and head of
Cuba's parliament six years later.

Escalona also acted as chief prosecutor during the controversial 1989
drug smuggling and treason case that led to the execution by firing
squad of decorated war hero Gen. Arnaldo Ochoa, who had led Cuban troops
on the battlefields of Angola and Ethiopia.

Escalona Reguera's replacement is Brig. Gen. Dario Delgado, who had been
deputy attorney general.

Tuesday's statement said Escalona Reguera would be assigned "other
duties" on the Council of State, Cuba's highest governing body.

On March 9, Cuba abruptly announced it had replaced another veteran
revolutionary, Rogelio Acevedo, who had overseen its airlines and
airports and as a teenager had fought alongside the Castros and Ernesto
"Che" Guevara.

Unlike the report on Escalona, the earlier statement gave no reason for
the removal of the 68-year-old Acevedo, who had played a key role in
expanding Cuba's tourism industry.

Escalona Reguera was born in the eastern city of Santiago in 1931,
attended law school and became a member of the Communist Party. He said
party officials balked at his decision to join the Castro brothers'
rebellion, which they initially viewed with suspicion.

After Batista fled on New Year's Day 1959, Raul Castro served as defense
minister for nearly half a decade before taking over the presidency from
Fidel - first temporarily, then permanently - in July 2006.

Escalona helped organize the post-revolutionary trials of Batista
government, military and police officials, as well as civilian
supporters of his government, following the revolution. Many were
convicted and executed.

Escalona also was briefly punished himself - sent to perform manual
labor - in the early 1960s, when he was accused of favoring former
Communist Party members over other revolutionaries in assignments.


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