Castro and his brother Raúl held the presidential post along with Cuba's other highest positions, like Communist Party leader, until this year, when Raúl Castro stepped down as president and a new Constitution divided the president's responsibilities between Castro's successor, Miguel Díaz-Canel, and the new post of prime minister.
The new Constitution envisions the prime minister as responsible for the daily operations of government as head of the Council of Ministers.
The prime minister has a five-year term and is nominated by Díaz-Canel and approved by the National Assembly, which unanimously approves every proposal put before it, with one known exception in recent history.
Marrero Cruz was named to his former post by Fidel Castro and saw tourism grow to one of the country’s largest earners of hard currency, alongside nickel mining and the dispatch of doctors and other professionals on government contracts overseas. Cuba welcomed 4.3 million tourists this year, fewer than hoped for but more than double the two million who arrived the year Marrero Cruz was named tourism minister.
In recent years Marrero Cruz has worked closely with Gaesa, the military-linked conglomerate that dominates tourism and many of the island’s other key sectors, including import/export and retail sales. Even as demand has slackened and Cuba’s economy has stalled, Gaesa and contractors like French construction firm Bouygues have been rapidly building thousands of new hotel rooms, most destined to be managed by Spanish hospitality companies and other foreign partners.
Arturo López-Levy, a Cuba expert at Holy Names University in California, said Marrero Cruz had proven himself an agile builder of consensus among Cuba’s most powerful forces.