The retreating revolutionary leader Raúl Castro chose a loyal supporter to succeed him.
Cuba president Miguel Díaz-Canel turned 61 on Tuesday and received a pretty birthday present the day before: he got up Raúl Castron replaced him as general secretary of the Communist Party and cut off the Castroje family on a sixty-year journey under Cuba.
The Secretary-General of the Communist Party leads Cuba’s only party allowed under the law and is at the same time the head of state.
Díaz-Canel was appointed in camera at the four-day party leadership “unity and continuity” congress, which will begin on Friday with Castro announced his resignation as agreed.
Díaz-Canelin the choice is no surprise. Raúl Castro replaced him as president in 2018 and supported him as his successor even now.
While the sixty cannot be said to be young, Díaz-Canel is Cuba’s answer to how the socialist system retains its position when the original revolution leaders die away. In the wake of Castro, other elderly fighters of the 1959 revolution gave up the party leadership over the weekend.
Generational change has been thought of at least since the revolutionary fighter and popular favorite who led Cuba for decades. Fidel Castro became ill and handed over his status to little brother Raúl in 2006.
Díaz-Canel is the first leader of communist Cuba to have no military background except for a few mandatory military years.
He is an engineer who has climbed the ladder of the Cuban Communist Party conscientiously peeing at Castro for decades, always under the leadership of the Young Communist Union as Governor and eventually as Minister of Education and Vice President.
“A quiet and efficient driller, not very charismatic,” describes the Program Director of the Foreign Policy Institute Mikael Wigell.
According to him, Díaz-Canel is, above all, the party’s creditor and the best guarantee for the continuity of the revolution, in other words, for the preservation of the current system.
“He’s close to Castro, as he has to be. After all, he wouldn’t have risen to power otherwise, ”Wigell says.
“He has remained faithful, but therefore, on the other hand, he does not have a natural charisma as a leader. He must now create legitimacy for himself through his actions. ”
What kind of actions can then be expected from Díaz-Canel?
Hardly at least radical reforms. He is the choice of Raúl Castro, and Castro’s plan is to maintain a socialist one-party system.
In his first speech as party leader, Díaz-Canel assured that he would follow the advice of his predecessor.
“Comrade Raúl is consulted on the most important strategic decisions that have the greatest impact on the fate of our state. He will always be present, ”Díaz-Canel said in his speech.
He also noted that Castro can still “warn of mistakes or shortcomings”.
Wigell emphasizes that Raúl Castro has by no means relegated the legacy of the revolution to Díaz-Canel alone. Over the years, Castro has elevated a bunch of army chiefs to good social positions.
“Raúl Castro’s legacy is the militarization of the Cuban state and economy,” Wigell says.
“It ultimately guarantees the continuity of the one-party system, but not necessarily ideology.”
Communist the party’s position thus appears stable, but economic reforms can well be expected from Díaz-Canel.
In Cuba, the means of production are basically controlled by the state, but during his reign, Raúl Castro opened up new areas for private enterprise. Díaz-Canel is likely to continue in this career.
As president, Castro accelerated the opening up of the economy and the legalization of small businesses – albeit only when reforms had the support of the party leadership. In recent months, he has led a major project in Cuba, the abandonment of the dual currency system. That, too, is about improving the economic outlook.
In his farewell speech, Castro expressed support for economic reforms.
“We need to dispel the tired illusion that Cuba is the only country where one can live without work,” he said and rebuked the state media for covering up problems and inflating successes.
Reforms is actually a must do, as Díaz-Canel inherits a state sunk in gloomy waters. There is a widespread shortage of basic food in the shops and there is no money to import.
The coronavirus pandemic has hit the tourism sector and Cuban private entrepreneurs working in tourism-related sectors in restaurants, hotels and taxi drivers in particular.
In addition, the President of the United States Donald Trump scrapped one of Raúl Castro’s greatest achievements last year by canceling his predecessor Barack Obaman relaxations on sanctions against Cuba.
Trump tightened sanctions to the extreme and blocked cruises and much of the remittances to Cuba. President of the United States Joe Biden has so far done nothing to change direction.
Read more: Finnish newsletter: Trump’s sanctions and pandemic plague the Cuban economy, but the Communist Party is doing well
Capital On the streets of Havana, at least recently, Cubans did not believe the change of power would remedy the situation.
“Castro just leaves, but things stay the same,” thought the 22-year-old nurse Melanie Miranda news agency Reuters.
“I don’t think there will be any significant changes in the near future,” the newspaper said in turn The Guardian interviewed man in the food queue.
■ 1959: Revolution. Fidel Castro will begin as prime minister and will become president and general secretary of the Communist Party in the coming years.
■ 2006: Raúl Castro takes the place of his ailing brother in the leadership of Cuba.
■ 2018: Raúl Castro hands over the presidency to Miguel Díaz-Canel but continues as party secretary general.
■ 2021: Díaz-Canel becomes Secretary General of the Communist Party.
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