Another top Cuban official fired

Yet another member of Cuba’s political elite has been ousted: Fernando Remírez de Estenoz, former chief of the Cuban diplomatic mission in Washington and most recently head of the Cuban Communist Party’s Foreign Relations Department.

Remírez de Estenoz, 57, was considered part of the group of top government and party officials who were just one generation behind the island's current rulers, mostly men in their late 70s like President Raúl Castro and Vice President José Ramón Machado Ventura.

His ouster has not been noted in the official media, although one Foreign Ministry official told El Nuevo Herald that the news is circulating in Cuba.

On Wednesday, the state-run National Information Agency issued a report on the meeting between Castro and Honduran President Manuel Zelaya that mentioned Jorge Martí Martínez as the head of Communist Party's Foreign Relations Department.

Martí served as Cuba's ambassador to Russia 2003-2008. In July of last year, he was appointed head of the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the People, an entity that promotes solidarity with Cuba overseas, to succeed the late actor Sergio Corrieri.

The removal of Remírez de Estenoz appears to be linked to the massive government restructuring and political purge announced Monday that replaced 12 senior officials, including Foreign Minister Felipe Pérez Roque and Carlos Lage, vice president of the ruling Council of State.

Lage and Pérez Roque resigned from all their other government and party jobs in letters published on Thursday by the official media, saying they acknowledged having made mistakes but not detailing them.

Remírez de Estenoz was known to be a close friend and collaborator of Lage from the days when they both studied medicine in Havana and were forged as leaders of the Communist Youths' Union.

It remains unclear whether Remírez de Estenoz will also lose his positions as a member of the Communist Party's Central Committee Secretariat and the legislative National Assembly.

One of the best-known members of the new generation of Cuban leaders forged under the revolution of Fidel Castro, Remírez de Estenoz was a student leader and became president of the Latin American Continental Organization of Students during the 1970s.

In 1981, he was named to lead the international relations section of the Communist Youths' Union. He was succeeded in that post by Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, who took over as foreign minister earlier this week.

In 1992, Remírez de Estenoz was named as first vice minister of foreign relations. A year later, he was appointed as Cuba's ambassador to the United Nations and later headed the Cuban Interests Section in Washington 1995-2001, playing a large role in the Elián González case.

After he left Washington, he resumed his role as first vice minister of the Foreign Ministry until his designation in 2004 as the head of the Communist Party's Foreign Relations Department.

That post allowed him to travel in recent years to Russia, China and Vietnam. In September of 2008, he accompanied Vice President Machado Ventura to the 63rd General Assembly of the United Nations in New York.