Thursday, February 4, 2010
Hijo de Artemisa Ramiro Valdes Mini Bio
Yo soy quien soy
Ramiro Valdés Menéndez (born 28 April 1932 in Artemisa in the province of Havana) is a Cuban revolutionary and politician. He became a Government Vice President in the 2009 shake-up by Raúl Castro.
A veteran of the Cuban Revolution, Valdés fought alongside Fidel Castro in 1953 at the attack on the Moncada barracks in 1953 and was a founding member of the 26th of July Movement. He has been a member of the Politburo of the Communist Party of Cuba since October 1965, and has held many important governmental posts, including the Interior Minister and Vice-Prime Minister. On August 31st, 2006, he was named Minister of Informatics and Communications.
He is the father of the Cuban composer Ramiro Valdés Puentes, awarded Cuba's First National Prize of Composition, who currently lives in Miami and in 2004 was the protagonist of a Telemundo 51 news series titled "The Commander's Son"
Ramiro Valdés Menéndez and his role in Raúl Castro's régime
For those Cuba-watchers who refuse to accept any notion of reform or improvement under the present leadership of Raúl Castro and are still anchored in past assumptions and stereotypes, the political comeback of Ramiro Valdés Menéndez is the absolute confirmation that Cuba is not moving ahead, but backwards.
The phrase "the dreaded former interior minister" crops up in every analysis or prediction on Cuba. Who in reality is this man nicknamed Ramirito?
Born in 1932 and raised in Artemisa (at that time part of Pinar del Río province, now located in the province of La Habana, Valdés was the youngest warrior who attacked the Moncada barracks on July 26, 1953.
In December 1956, he helped Fidel Castro train and organize the Granma expedition, where he was in charge of one of the squads, surviving the first government ambush at Alegría de Pío, from where he joined the rebel army in the Sierra Maestra. He became part of the 1st Column —known as the Columna Madre— and saw action up to the victory in 1959.
As such, Ramirito was the only comandante who had been a major player in the three crucial episodes of Fidel Castro's revolution: the Moncada attack, the Granma landing and the invasion from Oriente to Las Villas.
He is one of the three "Comandantes de la Revolución, a rank without operational meaning, but nonetheless a potent political symbol.
Valdés was founder and chief of the Departamento de Investigaciones del Ejercito Rebelde (DIER or Investigation Department of the Rebel Army), becoming Minister of the Interior in June 1960, when Cuba's civil war was spreading across the island.
He became a key player in crushing Cuba's counterrevolution in the late '60s and early '70s. Those whom he defeated —and managed to survive— are both bitter and appalled and cannot understand his current political comeback.
Understandably so, because Ramiro Valdés was responsible for planting distrust and implementing methods of surveillance and hostility, while unfairly abusing his authority against revolutionaries who criticized and questioned things.
He was intolerant of homosexuals and religious faithful —even amongst fellow ideologues— above and beyond what was considered official policy.
During his administration of DIER, he allowed serious political conflicts to simmer within the counterintelligence and intelligence directorates. His professional and personal relations with Raúl Castro got worse day by day.
Minister of the Interior—Again
By 1969, the Politburo, the former central policy-making and governing body of the Soviet Union Communist party and, with minor variations, of other Communist parties, decided to remove Valdés from the Ministry of the Interior, replacing him with Sergio del Valle Jiménez, a comandante and MINFAR's first deputy minister.
In 1978, Fidel removed del Valle and brought back Valdés as Minister of the Interior. Expectations for improvement failed, and personal rivalries and tensions increased.
By the time of the III Party Congress in 1986, Valdés was again gone as Minister of the Interior and as a member of the Politburo and it seemed as if his political career was over.
But then, he landed a new job as director of national electronics (Copextel). In the beginning, it was a very small project, but soon it became the hub for the development of Cuba's telecom, software and IT industry—in growing association with Japanese, Korean and Chinese enterprises.
The 1990s was Copextel's coming-of-age and also heralded the creation of Cuba's Industrial Group for Electronics, attached to the Ministry of Steel and Machinery (SIME).
Later this Industrial Group of Electronics came under the Ministry of Information Technology and Communications. In less than 10 years, Valdés' group had become the single most important entity within the new ministry, obviously becoming the man to replace the outgoing minister.
He was once again readmitted to the Politburo after Raúl's official nomination as president of the Council of State in February 2008.]A kinder, gentler Ramirito?
Valdés is one of the key players in the restoration and expansion of Cuba's current alliance with China. The branch of government for which he has been responsible for more than 20 years is extremely sensitive to Cuba's national security—but it also represents one of the major opportunities for Sino-Cuban technological cooperation.
In February 2007, Valdés defended Internet restrictions as a response to US aggression. The Internet "constitutes one of the tools for global extermination" he said, referring to US policies, "but is also necessary to continue to advance down the path of development."
At an international conference on communications in Havana, Valdés defended Cuba's "rational and efficient" use of the Internet but warned that "the wild colt of new technologies can and must be controlled."
So this is the new Ramiro Valdés: leader of one of the most advanced sectors of Cuba's economy, a shrewd negotiator when doing business with Asian conglomerates, and a technocrat surrounded by a highly sophisticated team of IT scientists.
Valdés has finally retooled himself into this top executive role, having long ago left behind his legacy as an active comandante in charge of the Interior Ministry. Our conclusion: his role today has little —if anything— to do with the bad old days of radical intolerance.