(Reuters) - As Cuba on Thursday named Miguel Diaz-Canel to succeed retiring Raul Castro as president, it also appointed new leadership of the 31-member Council of State, the island’s highest executive body.
The leadership team, consisting of a new first vice president and five vice presidents, is younger and more diverse in terms of gender and race than the previous one. All the appointees are long-term members of the ruling Communist Party, however, and some serve on its powerful Political Bureau.
Like Diaz-Canel, First Vice President Salvador Valdes Mesa, 72, has for decades held leadership positions in the party, government and mass social organizations. They are the most senior officials of the Council of State and the Council of Ministers.
For a profile of Diaz-Canel, click here: [L8N1RO709]
The following are the vice presidents in Cuba’s new Council of State:
Valdes Mesa is the first Afro-Cuban to hold such a high government post and represents a generation between Castro, 86, and Diaz-Canel, 57. Valdes Mesa has more experience in government then the president and was head of the trade union federation, among other posts.
Valdes, 85, is the only member of former President Fidel Castro’s guerilla army that overthrew a U.S.-backed dictator in a 1959 revolution to make it to a top position in the government. He has held numerous positions throughout the years, including interior minister and deputy defense minister. He is a politburo member.
Bejerano, 71, has the air of a kindly Cuban grandmother. However, she has earned the nickname Iron Lady for ferreting out and preventing corruption as the comptroller general.
Morales, 50, is public health minister and a doctor. Morales has held leadership posts at the provincial level in both the party and government. He was recently named to the politburo.
Maria Chapman, 52, of Afro-Cuban descent, rose to prominence as head of Cuba’s leaky waterworks where she has worked to repair infrastructure and supervised the allocation of water during a recent prolonged drought.
Johnson, 48, of Afro-Cuban descent, rose to prominence in eastern Santiago de Cuba where she worked her way up from director of a joint venture cement plant to head of the provincial government.
Reporting by Nelson Acosta; Writing by Marc Frank; Editing by Sarah Marsh, Daniel Flynn and Cynthia Osterman