Cuba Communist Congress approves economic reforms, leaves old guard in place
By Juan O. Tamayo
Fidel Castro attended but said nothing at the closing session of a
crucial Communist Party Congress that marked the end of his era and
endorsed bold economic reforms but fell short of appointing a new and
Brother Raúl Castro, who is 79, as expected, was elected first secretary
of the party to replace the 84-year-old Fidel, who carried that title
since the party was created in 1965.
Replacing Raúl at the job of second secretary was Jose Ramon Machado
Ventura, who is 80 years old. The No. 3 in the party hierarchy, Ramiro
Valdes, is 79 years old.
Raúl Castro announced that the party's maximum leadership group, the
Political Bureau, had been reduced from 24 to 15 members, of whom 12 are
current members. The only three new members included the country's
economics tsar and the minister of the economy, and the party chief for
the province of Havana.
Castro also said about half of the broader Central Committee, with about
120 members, had been renovated to include three times as many women as
before and 10 percent more blacks.