Cuba's Castro era comes to a close

20 April, 2018, 01:33 | Author: Jason Torres
  • Diaz-Canel sole candidate to succeed Raul Castro

After their afternoon cafecito, Cuban exiles in Miami's Little Havana said they were convinced that Raul Castro's successor Miguel Diaz-Canel is not going to challenge the island's single-party system. For the first time in almost six decades, Cubans are about to see what it's like without a Castro at the top.

Cuba's government is embracing social media as it convenes the National Assembly to elect a successor to President Raul Castro.

Diaz-Canel has since a year ago been widely expected to take over from Castro, who made it clear his deputy was his personal choice.

He delivered a long homage to 86-year-old Raul Castro, calling him the best student of his brother Fidel. Last year, Raul announced he would be stepping down this April.

Fidel Castro, who led a band of rebels that overthrew a USA -backed dictator and then ruled for decades, handed over power to Raul Castro in 2008 as his health deteriorated.

Earlier, the two had arrived at the Havana Convention Center smiling and in good spirits for the opening of the session.

State-run media and government-controlled Twitter accounts are promoting what is expected to be a historic handover of the presidency to the first non-Castro to lead the country in almost 60 years. In 2008, Castro replaced his brother, dictator Fidel Castro.

Cuba's economy remains smaller than it was in 1985, when it had the support of Communist ally, the Soviet Union, according to one study.

This WikiProject is dedicated to brainstorming how we can report on Diaz-Canel, and his effect on Cuba once he assumes office. Join us in a conversation about world events, the newsgathering process or whatever aspect of the news universe you find interesting or important.

"If we compare him to Fidel, and it's hard not to, he will fall short".

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The silver-haired Mr Diaz-Canel has spent decades climbing the party ranks, becoming Castro's right-hand man in 2013.

But long before reaching the top, while serving as the party's provincial secretary in Villa Clara in the 1990s, he turned heads by riding his bicycle, portraying a simplicity uncommon among the regime's leaders. How much authority would a non-Castro have, for the massive economic reform task ahead and a restless internet generation rising?

Efforts to build up the private sector in Cuba's economy have had mixed success.

In 2015, the two countries renewed diplomatic ties, and the following year, then president Barack Obama paid a historic visit to the island.

Fidel Castro was prime minister and president from 1959 until he fell ill in 2006.

Can communist Cuba be led by someone whose name is not Castro?

"Any change in Cuba is reason to celebrate", said Cuban-American Christina Ibanez.

Though often portrayed as a moderate, footage of a private meeting with the Communist Party past year showed him lashing out at Cuban dissidents and the U.S. in a tirade worthy of the most ruthless hardliner.

The National Assembly was due to vote later in the day on the proposal to replace him with Diaz-Canel, a 57-year-old engineer who is now first vice president.

The results will only be made public on Thursday.

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