Ricardo Alarcón : biography
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. He also was a Member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba until 2013.
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)
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. 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.
Alarcon was married to Margarita Perea Maza. She died on 9 February 2008.The Miami Herald; "Wife of Cuban Official Dies After Long Illness"; 12 February 2008, Page 7A
President of the National Assembly (1993–2013)
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. 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. Alarcón is currently a member of the Politburo of the Communist Party of Cuba; the country's central policy-making body.
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. The negotiations were suspended for a while when he abruptly travelled to Cuba to discuss the situation with the Cuban Government. 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. 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.
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.
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.
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." 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. However, in an interview with the CNN, Alarcón said he was unsure if Fidel would accept the post or not. 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".
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