Cuba's Tourism Minister Replaced

By Anita Snow
Associated Press Writer
Saturday, August 28, 1999; 10:12 p.m. EDT

HAVANA (AP) -- The Cuban leadership announced on Saturday the replacement of the country's tourism minister, Osmany Cienfuegos, following the sacking of several lower-level tourism officials.

Cuba's Council of State, headed by President Fidel Castro, said Foreign Investment Minister Ibrahim Ferradaz would take up the tourism post. It gave no reason for the replacement, which was announced in the Communist Party daily Granma.

The announcement said Cienfuegos ``will be assigned other responsibilities'' consistent with his ``revolutionary trajectory.''

Cienfuegos had been rumored to be in danger of losing his job for months after the firing of an unknown number of mid- and low-level tourism officials.

The government in June said several employees of a Cuban tourism firm had been disciplined for inappropriate actions, but denied rumors of a widespread corruption scandal in the communist country's tourism industry.

The Tourism Ministry assumed a key role this decade after Cuba lost most of its former aid and trade with the collapse of the Soviet Union. As the sugar industry, once Cuba's primary source of income, began to falter, Cuba turned to tourism as an importance source of hard currency.

The Foreign Investment Ministry, headed by Ferradaz for four years, also has played an important role in attracting cash.

Cienfuegos is the brother of Camilo Cienfuegos, a popular guerrilla commander who died in a plane crash in the first years after the 1959 revolution that brought Castro to power in the Caribbean island nation.

© Copyright 1999 The Associated Press