Cuba’s 605 member National Assembly announced the name of the sole candidate for the island’s next head of state, on Wednesday, April 18, thereby ensuring the end of an era after 59 years of Castro rule.
Raul Castro, 86, has governed over Cuba as President since 2008, when his brother, long-standing leader Fidel, fell ill following a five-decade run as head of state. Castro held the highest position of power in Cuba since the nation’s historic revolution of 1959. While many will argue that he didn’t live up to expectations that his style of leadership would mark fundamental changes in Cubas economy and geopolitical affairs, it was never Raul’s intention to break from the fundamentals of Cuban governance as imagined up by the idealistic revolutionaries of his generation.
Still, over the course of his 10 years in power, Raul did give a bit in order to help the country survive in today’s global capitalist order; allowing for more foreign investment and loosening restrictions on certain private market models. He also oversaw un unthawing of the tense relations with the U.S. that existed up until his engagement with former President Barack Obama. Although the election of Donald Trump would signify a retraction from more travel and economic exchange, the move was symbolic of a future of cooperation that many believe will be inevitable with a future Cuban leader.
Come Thursday, Cuban First Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel will be the nation’s President. It remains to be seen what his vision is for the future of Cuba, but CNN has quoted the 57-year-old as stating that believes in “continuity”; a stance that will most certainly draw differing interpretations from those who favor and those who disfavor Cuba’s political apparatus, alike.
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