Cuba: an historical replacement in the island

Miguel Díaz Canel (left) is Cuba’s new president and will take over from Raúl Castro (in the center). (Adalberto Roque / AFP)

For the first time in history, the communist country will not be led by the Castro family

The island of Cuba is governed by a communist regime since 1959. And also, for more than 50 years, a member of the Castro family has always been in office as president. But this could soon change.

On March 11, 2018, elections were held for the Cuban National Assembly. It is a rather special parliament, because in Cuba there is only one party: the Partido Comunista de Cuba (PCC). Which means that in elections, there is no vote between different parties and ideas, but only the task of choosing representatives of the PCC.

One month later, on April 19, representatives of the National Assembly elected the new president of Cuba: Miguel Díaz Canel.

It is a historical replacement because, for the first time in sixty years, the country’s leader will not be a member of the Castro family. First Fidel Castro (between 1959 and 2008) and then his brother Raúl Castro (between 2008 and 2018) have led the country maintaining socialist policies.

Cuba’s history is not told without mentioning the Castro Family, led by brothers Fidel and Raúl. (Yamil Lage / AFP)

Who will be his successor?

Raúl Castro’s successor will be Miguel Díaz-Canel, one of the leaders of the Communist Party and vice president since 2013.

Diaz-Canel is not related to the Castro, but has a long experience as a politician and leader. From an early age, he was part of the bases of the Communist Party (the only political party allowed on the island) and climbing up positions within the government.

Some say it is a strategy: choosing a successor outside the Castro family can help show people that power is not in the hands of one family. Although the truth is that Raul Castro will remain head of the Communist Party.

In recent months, Díaz-Canel has appeared at public events representing the government, which indicates that he is close to Raúl Castro, but this could also be just another strategy to bring him closer to the people and gain popularity.

Opening itself to the World

Following the triumph of the Cuban revolution in 1959, Fidel Castro imposed a very strict communist government: following the principles of socialism, the government controls all factories and companies, the commerce of products and the media. A

For decades, the country closed itself to the world so as to avoid the influence of capitalism, a lifestyle based on individual consumption and wealth (quite the opposite of what communism preaches).

When Fidel retired, his brother Raúl maintained the communist system, although there has been some openness in recent years. Thanks to internet and social networks, Cubans have seen how the rest of the world lives and have received influences from abroad.

However, opponents of the Castro assure that in Cuba there is a dictatorship and condemn the repression. The government controls all information and activities on the island and stops any protest, demonstration or criticism.

Some believe that the change of leader could bring change in the style of governing, one more open to the world. Diaz-Canel must now prove if he is really able to make his own decisions or is just a new face to guarantee that the regime continues.

Translated by Chaplin’s Languages | Find out more in Junior Report

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