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Cuba Will Have A Non-Castro President Starting Thursday…But Who?

For the first time since the 1959 revolution, someone who is not Fidel and Raul Castro will be the leader in Cuba. On Thursday, 86 year old Raul Castro will step down as president. He took over for his brother Fidel in 2010 after Fidel’s health began to seriously decline. Raul ushered in a detente with president Obama which was quickly reversed when president Trump took office. Still, with growing inflation and unfair pay wages plaguing the country as well as a crippling recession, whoever takes over is going to have their work cut out for them. There was speculation that perhaps one of Castro’s kids would take over, thereby keeping it in the family. But chances are that the 1st vice president Miguel Diaz-Canel will be the next president of Cuba.

So, who is he? Diaz-Canel will be the first leader not of the revolutionary generation, being only 57 years old. That’s a youngster by Cuban leadership standards. He’s moderate in some ways but don’t expect a burgeoning democracy under him. He’s a hardliner when it comes to defending the revolution and absolute one-party Communist rule. He was one of the heads of the Communist party for years and is a diehard follower of the revolution. He has 0% tolerance for dissidents and wishes to maintain Cuba’s absolute sovereignty. He’s been very vocal in his opposition to Trump rolling back the thaw that happened under Obama, but truth be told he was also suspicious of Obama’s motives in seeking a better relationship with Cuba. He thought it might be a new way to back channel compromise the revolution.

What does this all mean? It means that maybe there will be progress in some sectors, economic perhaps. But in general things will continue much as they have for 60 years. The Castros would not hand over the reins of power to someone who would undo their revolution.

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