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Qué Lástima! Countdown Begins a Year Out from Raúl Castro’s Retirement 

cuba-parliament

Mimi Whitfield and Nora Gámez Torres report: A year from now — on Feb. 24 — something is expected to occur in Cuba that hasn’t happened in more than 40 years: a non-Castro will occupy the presidency.

The coming year will be one of definitions in Cuba. But right now there is only uncertainty — not only about how the transition will proceed but also about the future of Cuba’s relationship with the United States with President Donald Trump at the helm.

In 2013, Raúl Castro told Cuba’s National Assembly of People’s Power, the parliament, that he planned to retire from the presidency of the Council of State and the Council of Ministers on Feb. 24, 2018. His heir apparent became Miguel Díaz-Canel, a party stalwart who at the time was promoted to first vice president of both councils.

File photo of then Cuban Prime Minister Fidel Castro attending manoeuvres during the 19th anniversary of his and his fellow revolutionaries arrival on the yacht Granma, in Havana

When Castro retires as president, the Cuban Constitution also calls for him to relinquish his post of commander in chief of Cuba’s armed forces. A Cuba without a khaki-clad Castro commanding the Revolutionary Armed Forces is something many younger Cubans have never experienced.

Díaz-Canel’s ascension next Feb. 24 — a date that has long had resonance in Cuba history — is not assured, but most observers believe that a new National Assembly that will be seated then will rubber stamp him as Cuba’s next president and he will replace the 85-year-old Castro.

Even with a successor, Castro is still expected to retain consider clout. He has said nothing about stepping down as chief of Cuba’s powerful Communist Party and Cuba’s military leaders are solid Raúlistas.

The power-behind-the-throne is not an unknown formula in Cuba. From 1959 to 1976, Osvaldo Dorticós formally served as president of the republic, even though the true power was wielded by the late Fidel Castro, who was then prime minister. From 1976, the posts associated with the presidency have been occupied first by Fidel and then by Raúl Castro, who took over on a provisional basis in 2006 when Fidel fell ill and then officially in 2008.

Díaz-Canel represents a break from the revolutionary old guard and the passing of the torch to a new generation of leaders. At age 56, he wasn’t even born when the revolution triumphed.. … (read more)

Source: Miami Herald

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