- BBC News World
Luis Alberto Lopez Calleja, one of Cuba’s most powerful players and Raul Castro’s former son-in-law, died Friday in Havana of cardiorespiratory arrest, the government said in an official statement.
According to a brief statement published in the state newspaper Granma, the powerful leader Revolutionary Armed Forces Business Administration Committee The military unit (keisa) that controls everything on the island from hotels to currency exchange died “in the early hours” of this July 1st.
López-Calleja, 62, held the rank of division general and was regarded by Cubans as the “military czar” of the economy and the man with “secret control” over the island’s finances.
He is married to Deborah Castro, daughter of former President Raúl Castro, and despite their divorce, he continues to be the former president’s right-hand man and is seen by the opposition as an arm of the Castro family in the current government.
From 1996 he started running Keiza, which controls the entry of foreign currency to the island and is owned by the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR).
As head of the Geiza, López-Calleja controlled the most relevant sector of the economy in the hands of the military, and it ranged from hotels, gas stations, ports, construction companies and customs services to real estate investment, retail stores and even. Electronic Commerce..
Despite his power, he was known as a man who shied away from the cameras and the public eye and his presence in government was overshadowed for years.
That all changed last year when it was announced that he would be a deputy to the National Assembly, a move seen by some analysts as a potential expansion towards greater political power on the island.
In the same year he was also elected a member of the Politburo, the most powerful group of ministers and officials of the Cuban Communist Party.
Born in Villa Clara province in 1960, López Calleja did part of his studies in the former Soviet Union and returned to Cuba, where he worked in military counterintelligence and fought with Cuban troops sent to Angola.
In 2020, the US Office of Foreign Assets Control sanctioned him and placed him on a list of people he was barred from doing business for his role in financing the island’s military group.
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