Disappeared / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar
14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 7 March 2017 — The two personalities
who represent the polar opposites of the so-called process of updating
the Cuban model have disappeared. We have seen neither hide nor hair of
the “captain” of economic reforms, Marino Murillo, since October of last
year, and Jose Ramon Machado Ventura, considered the braking mechanism
for any measure that looks like a change, has not appeared in the
official media since 27 February.
Murillo did not appear in the images that filled the media during the
nine days of the funeral and mourning period of former President Fidel
Castro. He was not seen in the last session of the parliament fulfilling
his usual role of asking for accountability on the implementation of the
Party’s Guidelines. He was not on the viewing platform saluting the
troops who marched in the military parade of 2 January, nor at any other
significant event of the ruling party during the current year.
On the other hand, rare is the day when the second secretary of the
Communist Party, Machado Ventura, does not appear visiting a chicken
farm, sausage factory or a sugar mill, moments that he uses to hammer
home his slogans of discipline andcontrol, demands that put him in the
headlines almost daily in the official press. He is the visible face
that exhorts the peasants to produce food and the workers to comply with
However, the most significant sign that unveils the wide range of
suspicions about the whereabouts of this hardliner has been that when
Raul Castro returned from his brief trip to Venezuela, the so-often
repeated scene of Machado Ventura receiving him at the bottom the
airplane stairs was missing. Perhaps this is the first time that images
of the general president’s return to the country were not released and
that the press didn’t mention who welcomed him.
The last meeting of the Council of Ministers, held on 28 February, was
the first of Raul Castro’s presidential term that was not broadcast live
on television, nor were photos published in the Party newspaper Granma.
Both Murillo and Machado Ventura should have been visible as members of
the group of highest ranking decision makers in the country.
Instead, in the official information about the meeting there was a
reference to Leonardo Andolla Valdea, deputy chief of the Permanent
Commission for the Implementation and Development of the Party
Guidelines. He was in charge of saying, on this occasion, what would
have normally been said by Murillo, also known as the “czar of the
It is not serious to spread rumors, much less to invent them. In
journalism only the facts must be counted, showing evidence and citing
sources. However, under the opaque veil of secrecy in which the most
important political and economic events unfold in Cuba, absences attract
attention as much as presences. What is not said can be as revealing as
what is stated.
Source: Disappeared / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar – Translating Cuba –