HAVANA – President Raul Castro has accepted the resignation of Interior Minister Abelardo Colome from the post he has held since 1989 and from which he is stepping down for health reasons, Cuban state television said.
Colome, 76, a four-star general, will be substituted by Deputy Minister Carlos Fernandez Gondin, a three-star general who sits on the Cuban Communist Party Central Committee.
The Council of State chose to honor Abelardo Colome with the Order of Service to the Homeland of the first degree “in consideration of his long revolutionary career,” the official note said.
In the letter of resignation he sent to Raul Castro, Colome recalled that of his 76 years he has dedicated 60 to the Cuban Revolution and that he will continue to be, as long as he lives, “a soldier at your service and member of the Communist Party.”
However, he said that “lately I’ve noticed that my health is not the same and I feel obliged to present a formal resignation to my high level political, state, government and military positions that it has been my honor to discharge under your leadership and that of the invincible Fidel.”
Born in Santiago de Cuba on Sept. 13, 1939, Colome is a “historical” figure of the Cuban Revolution and one of Raul Castro’s closest associates.
In 1957 he joined the rebels of the Sierra Maestra, who, led by Fidel Castro, were fighting to bring down dictator Fulgencio Batista. He was assigned to the 2nd Eastern Front, led by Raul Castro, and became head of his bodyguards at that time.
A member of the Communist Party Politburo since 1986, Colome was charged with purging the Interior Ministry in 1989 following a corruption scandal that cost Gen. Jose Abrahantes his position as minister.
Besides designating a new minister after Colome’s resignation, the Council of State named Vice Adm. Julio Cesar Gandarilla Bermejo, current head of military counterintelligence, as deputy interior minister.