CUBA STANDARD — In what some suggest is a political game changer for Cuba, Luis Alberto Rodríguez López-Calleja died at age 62 of “cardio-respiratory arrest”, Granma and Cubadebate announced in terse notes.
As executive president of GAESA, the powerful business conglomerate run by the armed forces, he was a key man behind the scenes for Cuba’s economy. GAESA controls a good chunk of Cuba’s GDP, through banks, currency exchange houses, remittance agencies, hotels, retail chains, e-commerce undertakings, gas stations, residential and commercial real estate development enterprises, construction companies, and port and warehouse services, among others.
López-Calleja moved closer to the spotlight last year, when he was appointed deputy in the National Assembly last year for the city of Remedios, in Villa Clara province. During the eighth congress of the Communist Party, he was appointed to the Politburo. He was also said to be a candidate for prime minister.
A former division general, he became son-in-law of Raúl Castro when he married Deborah Castro Espín, whom he divorced later. He is one of four sons of Gen. Guillermo Rodríguez del Pozo, who fought side by side with Raúl during the revolution.
In 2020, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control put him on the “designated nationals” blacklist.