How does Colomé Ibarra's resignation fit into the regime's succession plans?
General Abelardo Colomé Ibarra, who was the western hemisphere's most veteran interior minister (and the only one charged with carrying out political repression) has just resigned. What does his retirement mean in the context of the generational succession sought by the regime from now until 2018, when Raúl Castro announced that he will step down as the president of the Council of State and Ministers?
First, we need to analyze what exactly "Furry" (as he is known in the circle of power) is giving up. According to the article published in the official newspaper of the Communist Party, Granma, Colomé Ibarra is not only resigning from his position as interior minister, but also as a member of the State Council. The letter does not specify whether he will continue serving as a member of the powerful Political Bureau of the Community Party Central Committee, which calls the shots in Cuban politics, and as a representative in the Asamblea Nacional del Poder Popular. In the absence of any clarification in this regard, we must assume that he will retain these positions.
Although Colomé states his health impedes him from continuing in these public offices, he will presumably retain those he nominally occupies, and in the short term. One wonders if at the next PCC congress, to be held in April 2016, Raúl Castro will relieve him of his position in the Party’s leadership, having another opportunity to honor one of his most loyal confederates in Cuba's political-military apparatus.
Similarly, we can assume that he will not be a candidate as a representative in the next elections to the aforementioned Assembly, slated for 2017. In a country with the most rudimentary guarantees of the rule of law, the members of said body and civil society organizations would be calling for Colomé’s immediate resignation as a representative, in light of the fact that he is apparently in no condition to continue performing his functions.
Raúl Castro has appointed another trusted ally to take General Colomé Ibarra’s place, a veteran of the armed struggle in the Sierra Maestra, and one year older than his predecessor: General Carlos Fernández Gondín. Also a representative in the National Assembly, Fernández Gondín is not a member of the Political Bureau of the PCC or the State Council. Promoting him to these positions, now or at the 7th
Party Congress, rather than a younger and less conservative figure, will further retard the process of generational change.
For now General Raúl Castro is still stalling, maintaining a conservative in one of the regime's most important posts. The changing of the guard, then, remains intra-generational; that is, exclusively reserved for members of the regime's historic generation. It is quite clear that the Interior Ministry is too important to entrust its leadership to some young upstart. As long as biology permits, it seems the responsibility for suppressing Cubans' growing discontent will remain in the regime's most decrepit hands.
With Fernández Gondín at the helm can we expect the ongoing repression of dissent and tight control over all sectors of Cuban society by the state security authorities directed by his nefarious ministry.