Cuba Elects a New President

By Patrick Brogan

 

In news that seems to have gone largely unnoticed, Cuba elected a new president. Miguel Diaz-Canel will be the first non-Castro to lead the island nation since 1959.

Diaz-Canel will succeed Raúl Castro, brother of revolutionary leader Fidel. Raúl steps down after his two-term promise. When he took over from his brother, it was feared that he would be more hard-line than Fidel, but he surprised many by bringing in economic reforms, fostered better relations with the US and was generally more pragmatic than his brother. This is similar to Mao Tse-tung and Ding Xiaoping in China.

So, what next? In the positive; Miguel Diaz-Canel has a history of supporting gay rights, but he will not be a huge departure from Cuban policies in the latter half of the 20th Century. He has praised the Castros and said Raúl “will lead the decisions of greatest transcendence for the present and the future of this country.”

It also must be stated that the former President is also still head of the Communist Party and the military, two of the country’s most important institutions. Then we have to consider the roles of the younger generation of Castros. Many are in high ranking positions and appear to be waiting in the wings to create a Castro dynasty.

What is unclear for the time-being is how Cuba will deal with its mounting debt. As a Communist country, many social services, like health, are free and this has meant Cuba relied upon richer countries to foot the bill. The USSR played this role as this Chavez’s Venezuela, but neither of these are a viable option now. Will Cuba have to take a step away from Communism to survive?

 

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