Cuban military controls weapons, economy

Aug. 6, 2006 at 8:48 PM
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HAVANA, Aug. 6 (UPI) -- The Cuban military is not a repressive apparatus, it's a money machine that runs the tourism sector, sugar, naval and retail industries, a report says.

As Fidel Castro recuperates from gastrointestinal surgery and his brother, Defense Minister Raul Castro, takes over, the role of the Revolutionary Armed Forces, or FAR in its Spanish acronym, has never been more critical, the Miami Herald said Sunday. The pressure to deliver will be on the armed forces that Raul created and transformed.

Cubans who have suffered years of shortages will be looking to Raul Castro and his military -- highly respected in Cuba -- to address crucial deficiencies in housing, transportation, food and medicine, the newspaper reported.

Experts say the younger class of rising military stars who run Cuba's commercial enterprises using economic models they learned in European business schools just might be able to do it, the Herald said.

The government appears to be feeling the pressure. Just three days after Castro's shocking announcement that he had turned power over to his brother, the state newspaper Granma featured an article about the military sprucing up and modernizing its equipment, the newspaper said.

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