Has not worked according to Castro’s plan.
As Castro announced that he was stepping down on Friday, his country was in crisis. An island dependent on tourism has been battered by the epidemic; According to government estimates, the economy shrunk by at least 11% in 2020. Cubans spend hours in long lines each day to find increasingly scarce food, medicine, and other necessities.
With then-US President Barack Obama, Castro maintained long-term US-Cuban relations, only to revisit those ties under the Trump administration that implemented some of the harshest economic penalties on the island in decades.
But until now, current President Joe Biden was reluctant to join the Communist-run island despite the most significant change in leadership in Cuba in decades.
“Whatever administration we have, Republican or Democrat, this is a good time to engage,” said former Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ), a rare member of the GOP who pushed for better relations, which Raulro Used to meet often with Travels to Cuba. “It benefits the Cuban people and puts pressure on the Cuban government that they do not have when we try to separate them.”
It is difficult to imagine a more precarious time for the last members of the aging generation, who transformed Cuba into a socialist state and ultimately relaxed their grip on power.
Despite deepening uncertainty, the Cubans saw a historic change of guard at this week’s 8th Congress for the Cuban Communist Party, allowing the “supreme institution” of the only political party on the island.
Started on Friday, it was time to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Cuba’s victory over CIA-trained exiles of Cuba during the Bay of Pigs invasion.
Even if the outgoing head of the party’s family continued to gain undisputed power on the island, once the Congress was over, no one with the last name Castro, for the first time in 62 years, had a senior leadership position. But it will not be held.
Since the early years of the revolution, Cuban head of state always led the party, making it almost impossible to determine where the government ends and the party begins.
“After that,” Castro said in 2018, “if my health allows it, I will be just another soldier with the people, defending this revolution.”
His departure marks the end of his famous clan occupation of the top leadership on the island. None of the children of Castro’s elder brother Fidel, who died in 2016, hold government positions.
Raul Castro’s son Alejandro is a colonel in Cuba’s Ministry of Interior and his daughter, Mariela, runs a government center to promote LGBTQ rights. One son-in-law, General Luis Alberto Rodríguez López-Callejas, heads a huge military company that controls state-owned hotels, marinas, and infrastructure projects, but he maintains a low public profile.
Cuba is one of the countries that has changed little since the end of the Cold War, with even government officials acknowledging that the island needed to be fully adapted. Finding a way to modernize Cuba’s economy will now fall on the shoulders of Miguel Diaz-Canal, who is the successor to Castro, who is expected to hold the post of head of the Communist Party as president.
Trained as an electrical engineer, Diaz-Canal ran local governments in the two provinces before becoming minister of higher education and then vice president and president.
Diaz-Canel is the first Cuban born to become president after the 1959 revolution. Gaining the leadership of the party would establish long, gray-haired technocrats as Castro’s political successors. But it is unclear how he differs from his predecessors.
“I believe in continuity,” Diza-Cannell told reporters in 2018 when asked about his vision for Cuba’s future. “I think there will always be continuity.”
Diaz-Canel has tried to present a more active image to the Cuban public, who regularly post on Twitter. He visited the still smoldering scene of a passenger plane crash in Havana in 2018 that killed 112 people, and he held cabinet meetings across the island as Fidel Castro.
Optics have changed somewhat, but Diaz-Canal is an outspoken advocate of the ideology that is the best approach to Cuba’s rigorous state control of the economy, despite decades of stagnant economic growth. And any public opposition to the party line, he has said, is the work of Cubans who are “sloppy nasidos” or born in the wrong country.
Even with all the official talk of maintaining the course, Cuba is changing. Many in Cuba’s nascent private sector complain openly about the slow pace of reforms. Fed up with government censorship and tearing down legislation protecting animal rights, activists have used the Internet to organize and publicize small demonstrations that went unimaginable only a few years ago.
As the Cuban government exacerbates challenges and threats, some fundamentalists may be wary of Raul Castro’s exit. But former senator Jeff Flake told CNN that he was opposing Castro’s plea to stay at any last minute.
“He is much more willing to walk at sunset than his brother. He will always talk about his grandfather and his family,” said Flake.
“But to really move forward, Cuba will need to move beyond Castro, to improve the reforms that it needs.”
Correction: An earlier version of this article gave the wrong year for Fidel Castro’s death. He died in 2016.