Raúl Castro's inner circle an indication of changes in Cuba
Vice President Carlos Lage, a 55-year-old who once served on a medical mission to Ethiopia, became the nation's economic czar in the early 1990s. And now Lage has become one of the few Cuban politicians to stand out as a rising confidant of interim leader Raúl Castro.
Lage's rise -- and the perceived slide of hard-liners close to Fidel Castro, such as Foreign Minister Felipe Pérez Roque -- has marked the six months since Castro ceded power to his brother following surgery for a still undisclosed ailment.
As old-time communist stalwarts and young up-and-comers close ranks in Havana to consolidate power in a not quite post-Fidel Cuba, experts agree that Lage's heightened profile is a sign of a Cuba to come: one under Raúl, where an economic overhaul could be welcomed.