The death was announced by Cuba’s state news service who broadcast that Casas died at 1:20 p.m. in Havana. Cuba declared Monday a day of national mourning.
Casas became head of Cuba’s armed forces in February 2008, replacing Raul Castro, who became president after emergency surgery forced his older brother Fidel to retire. Casas also served as vice president of the Council of State.
A longtime revolutionary, he fought directly under Raul Castro in the guerrilla war that brought his brother to power in January 1959.
Casas was a bank accountant in the eastern city of Santiago before joining the rebels. When Raul Castro was made defense minister, he put Casas in charge of the profitable businesses that the military ran, including tourist hotels and the main telephone company.
When Castro became president, Casas was one of the loyal, but aging, generals he chose to surround himself with.
The revolutionary reunions must be getting a bit thin on numbers as the years roll on. We have to hand it to the Castro’s and the rest of the Batista bashers – they have survived in power a few decades longer than anyone could have predicted. But now even for them time is running out.
The world politics will be a more boring place without Fidel and friends. Even Castro ‘mini-me’ Chavez looks like he is on the way out. Are there any budding young Che’s out there to revitalise the west?