Ricardo Alarcón

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Ricardo Alarcón
Ricardo Alarcon (TV Brasil, 2008).jpg
Ricardo Alarcón in 2008
(Photo: Marcello Casal Jr./ABr)
President of the National Assembly of People's Power
In office
24 February 1993 – 24 February 2013
Vice President Jaime Alberto Hernandez-Baquero Crombet
Preceded by Juan Escalona Reguera
Succeeded by Esteban Lazo
Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
1992–1993
Premier Fidel Castro
Preceded by Isidoro Malmierca Peoli
Succeeded by Roberto Robaina
Personal details
Born Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada
(1937-05-21) 21 May 1937 (age 76)
Havana, Cuba
Nationality Cuban
Political party Communist Party of Cuba
Profession Civil servant
Religion Atheist

Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada (born 21 May 1937) is a Cuban statesman. He served as Cuba's Permanent Representative to the United Nations (UN) for nearly 30 years and later served as Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1992 to 1993. Subsequently Alarcón was President of the National Assembly of People's Power from 1993 to 2013, and because of this post, was considered the third-most powerful figure in Cuba.[1] He also was a Member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba until 2013.[2]

A graduate of the University of Havana with a doctorate in philosophy, he served in various diplomatic posts following the Cuban Revolution. His first post in connection with Cuba's foreign policy was as Head of the Americas Division of Cuba's Foreign Ministry. During his tenure as Permanent Representative to the UN Alarcón held several leading offices, such as Vice President of the General Assembly of the United Nations.

Life and career (1937–1993)[edit]

Alarcón was born in Havana on 21 May 1937. He entered the University of Havana in 1954 and graduated with a degree as a Doctor of Philosophy and Humanities.[3] Alarcón became active in the Federation of University Students (FEU), serving as the secretary of culture for the FEU from 1955 to 1956. Alarcón would become active in Castro's 26th of July Movement, which was attempting to oust Cuban President Fulgencio Batista, in July 1955. Alarcón assisted in the organization of the student apparatus of the guerrilla organization's youth brigade. Alarcón was elected the FEU's Vice President in 1959, and would serve as the President of the Student Organization from 1961 to 1962. However, unlike the Castros, Alarcón was active in the urban underground resistance, and not the guerilla movement located in the countryside.[4]

In 1962, the new Castro-led government appointed Alarcón as the Director of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Americas division, where he would begin his diplomatic career. Between 1966 and 1978 he served as Permanent Representative of Cuba to the United Nations, Vice President of the General Assembly of the United Nations, President of the Council of Administration to the United Nations Development Programme, and Vice-President of the United Nations Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. In 1978 Alarcón was promoted to first vice-minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.[5] While serving as Permanent Representative to the UN for a second time, Alarcón was President of the Security Council in February 1990 and July 1991.[6] In 1992 was made Minister of Foreign Affairs, and in February 1993 he became the President of the National Assembly.[5]

President of the National Assembly (1993–2013)[edit]

Alarcón took over the office of President of the National Assembly of People's Power in 1993 in what Ben Corbett, a historian, considered a "demotion" from his earlier post as Minister of Foreign Affairs.[7] However, William E. Ratliff and Roger W. Fontaine, in their book, A Strategic Flip-flop in the Caribbean: Lift the Embargo on Cuba, ranks Alarcón as third-most powerful figure in Cuba.[8] Alarcón is currently a member of the Politburo of the Communist Party of Cuba; the country's central policy-making body.[9]

One-year after taking office, Alarcón travelled to the United States as the head of a five-member delegation to talk about the migration issues between the two countries. In a Government statement, Alarcón was described as the "best qualified" to deal with such delicate issues as emigration, and his knowledge of the "fundamental causes" to mass emigration from Cuba. Alarcón, along with the Cuba's Government, believes that the United States economic embargo against Cuba is the main blame for the mass emigration from the country.[10] The negotiations were suspended for a while when he abruptly travelled to Cuba to discuss the situation with the Cuban Government.[11] After his abrupt visit to Cuba, he returned to the United States and continued the negotiations. When he returned to the United States, he was more positive in tone, and several Cuban officials told the media that an agreement could be reached.[12] Alarcón was able to reach an agreement with the United States Government on 9 September 1994, and the United States promised to issue at least 20,000 immigrant visas a year for Cuban citizens seeking to leave their homeland.[13]

In August 2000, Alarcón was involved in a minor dispute with the United States when he was denied a visa to attend an international conference in New York City. Alarcón lived in Manhattan for over twelve years but because of his status as a Cuban government official he is only allowed within a 25 mile radius of the United Nations.[14]

On 2 December 2003, United States Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security John R. Bolton charged that Cuba, along with Iran, North Korea, Syria, and Libya, were "rogue states...whose pursuit of weapons of mass destruction makes them hostile to U.S. interests [and who] will learn that their covert programs will not escape either detection or consequences." In response, Alarcón called Bolton "a liar" and cited US claims pertaining to Iraq's weapons of mass destruction in justification of the Iraq War which were later found to be incorrect.[15]

In 2006, Alarcón stated: "At some moment, US rhetoric changed to talk of democracy... For me, the starting point is the recognition that democracy should begin with Pericles's definition – that society is for the benefit of the majority – and should not be imposed from outside."[16] During Fidel Castro's transfer of presidential duties to his brother Raúl Castro, Alarcón told the foreign media that Fidel would be fit to run for re-election to the assembly in January 2008 parliamentary election.[17] However, in an interview with the CNN, Alarcón said he was unsure if Fidel would accept the post or not.[18] Alarcón, in an interview on the topic on who would succeed Fidel Castro, said; "All those who have been trying to fool the world and put out the idea that something terrible would happen in Cuba, that people would take to the streets, that there would be great instability, the door slammed on them and they must have very swollen hands now".[19]

Family[edit]

Alarcon was married to Margarita Perea Maza. She died on 9 February 2008.[20]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Cuba parliament opens as Fidel Castro visits". BBC World Service. 24 February 2013. Retrieved 24 February 2013. 
  2. ^ Cuba removes Ricardo Alarcon from top Communist body
  3. ^ Lamrani, Salim; Alarcón, Ricardo (2005). United States Against Cuba: The War on Terrorism and the Five Case. Editorial El Viejo Topo. p. 197. ISBN 978-84-96356-37-5. 
  4. ^ Bardach, Ann Louise (2009). Without Fidel: A Death Foretold in Miami, Havana, and Washington 3. Simon & Schuster. p. 205. ISBN 978-1-4165-5150-8. 
  5. ^ a b Profile at Cuban parliament website (Spanish).
  6. ^ "Presidents of the Security Council : 1990-1999", UN.org.
  7. ^ Corbett, Ben (2004). This Is Cuba: An Outlaw Culture Survives. Basic Books. p. 256. ISBN 978-0-8133-4224-5. 
  8. ^ Ratliff, William E.; Fontaine, Roger W. (2000). A Strategic Flip-flop in the Caribbean: Lift the Embargo on Cuba. Hoover Press. p. 68. ISBN 978-0-8179-4352-3. 
  9. ^ Allard, Jean-Guy (19 April 2005). "Is Posada Still Working for the White House?". CounterPunch (Petrolia, California). Retrieved 17 February 2011. 
  10. ^ Staff writer (31 August 1994). "Flight from Cuba; Cuba Names Leader For Talks With U.S.". The New York Times (New York City, New York). Retrieved 17 February 2011. 
  11. ^ Lewis, Paul (8 September 1994). "U.S.-Cuban Talks Suspended As Envoy Returns to Havana". The New York Times (New York City, New York). Retrieved 17 February 2011. 
  12. ^ Golden, Tim (9 September 1994). "Cuba, in Shift, Says Deal Can Be Reached With the U.S.". The New York Times (New York City, New York). p. 1. Retrieved 17 February 2011. 
  13. ^ Golden, Tim (22 September 1994). "Cuban Official Criticizes Lag By the U.S. in Issuing Visas.". The New York Times (New York City, New York). Retrieved 17 February 2011. 
  14. ^ Staff writer (29 August 2000). "Cuban politician denied US visa". London, United Kingdom: BBC Online. Retrieved 17 February 2011. 
  15. ^ Staff writer (31 December 2003). "Cuban leader sees invasion risk as ‘real’". The New York Times (New York City, New York). Retrieved 17 February 2011. 
  16. ^ Campbell, Duncan (3 August 2006). "Propaganda war grips a land crippled by shortages". The Guardian (London, United Kingdom). Retrieved 17 February 2011. 
  17. ^ Staff writer (15 March 2007). "Castro 'to be fit to hold power'". London, United Kingdom: BBC Online. Retrieved 17 February 2011. 
  18. ^ Lacey, Marc (23 January 2008). "The Americas; Cuba: Will Castro Return?". The New York Times (New York City, New York). Retrieved 17 February 2011. 
  19. ^ Miller, Jimmy (8 August 2008). "Succession talk fuels the Cuban rumour mill". The Telegraph (London, United Kingdom). Retrieved 17 February 2011. 
  20. ^ The Miami Herald; "Wife of Cuban Official Dies After Long Illness"; 12 February 2008, Page 7A

Further reading[edit]

  • Ricardo Alarcón and Reinaldo Suarez, Cuba y Su Democracia (Editorial de Ciencias Sociales 2004) ISBN 987-1158-06-8
  • Fidel Castro and Ricardo Alarcón, EE.UU. fuera del oriente medio (Pathfinder Press 2001) ISBN 0-87348-625-0
  • Ricardo Alarcón and Mary Murray Cuba and the United States : an interview with Cuban Foreign Minister, Ricardo Alaron (Ocean Press 1992) ISBN 1-875284-69-9

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Isidoro Malmierca Peoli
Foreign Minister of Cuba
1992–1993
Succeeded by
Roberto Robaina Gonzalez
Preceded by
Juan Escalona Reguera
President of Cuban National Assembly
1993–2013
Succeeded by
Esteban Lazo Hernández
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
?
Permanent Representative of Cuba to the United Nations
1966–1992
Succeeded by
Alcibiades Hidalgo