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Chief of Cuba's military businesses, ex-Castro in-law dies

In this photo released by Cubadebate, Gen. Luis Alberto Rodriguez Lopez-Calleja, right, greets former Cuban President Raul Castro at the National Assembly in Havana, Cuba, Dec. 21, 2021. Lopez-Calleja, one of the most trusted advisers to Castro and head of the country's military business division, died on July 1, 2022 at age 62. The Communist Party and official news media said he died of a cardiopulmonary arrest. (Irene Perez/Cubadebate via AP)

HAVANA (AP) — Gen. Luis Alberto Rodríguez López-Calleja, one of the most trusted advisers to former Cuban President Raul Castro and head of the country’s military business division, died on Friday at age 62.

The Communist Party and official news media said he died of a cardiopulmonary arrest.

López-Calleja, who was also a former son-in-law of Raul Castro, was serving as executive president of the armed forces Business Administration Group, which includes an extensive array of hotels, shops, tourist agencies and construction firms.

He also was a member of the Communist Party’s powerful Political Bureau and a member of the island’s parliament.

López-Calleja was a circumspect person who had become gradually more visible in official events as the armed forces businesses came to play a growing role in Cuba’s economy.

He was born in the central province of Villa Clara on Jan. 19, 1960, just a year after the revolution led by Fidel Castro and his brother Raul had toppled the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista and taken power.

He became a leader in party youth organizations, studied in the Soviet Union, participated in Cuba’s African military mission to Angola and later serviced in military counterintelligence. His official biography says he began to lead the military business operation in 1996 and became part of the Communist Party Central Committee in 2011.

He had married — and later was divorced from — Raul Casro’s oldest daughter, Débora, and they had a son, Raúl Guillermo Rodríguez Castro, who is currently the most visible of his grandfather’s bodyguards.