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Cuba Today: An Interview with Ricardo Alarcon

The president of Cuba's National Assembly outlines the country's policies and goals in the face of Bush administration hostility
James Suckling
From the Print Edition:
Cuba, May/June 2007

(continued from page 1)

CA: How would you compare Raúl Castro to his brother Fidel? Doesn't he come from more of a military background?

Alarcon: First of all, he doesn't really come from a military background. He and others had to go to the Sierra Maestra to fight. But Fidel Castro's background was law. It was not in the military, and Raúl was also a student. Life made them become otherwise.... Raúl was in charge of the national defense, the armed forces and so on. And, of course, he did go to various military academies himself to organize an army. In this sense, he has been in the military, but not really.

CA: What sort of man is he?

Alarcon: Every profession has its characteristics. One thing is to be a writer, an artist or something. You accept certain qualities with your job.'s discipline and organization. The problem is that when you speak of military, many people just think of war. It's because we watch the news, or something else.... It is the same for any military person—an American, a Cuban or whomever. They need to be individuals who get up and they are ready to mobilize rapidly. A writer or an artist doesn't have to be ready to stand up and go. A military has to be ready to stand up and go.

CA: I see many people in the media describing him as pragmatic.

Alarcon: Of course, he has to be pragmatic. Fortunately. Imagine having a military chief who is not pragmatic? That is what you expect to have. You don't want a person to lead by his imagination and fantasies in that position.

CA: How would you describe Raúl then? What sort of man is he? People don't know a lot about him.

Alarcon: The answer isn't very easy. He loves his life and his family. He is very attached to his family, especially his wife. He has been very active in raising his family, all of his children. They are all very well educated. This is why he has almost fought to spend time with his family and continues what he has been doing with them as always.

CA: So you are saying he is a very private person and a man who values time with his family?

Alarcon: This may explain why this aspect of Raúl is not very well known because it is not supposed to be known. It is something that you have to protect.

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