Castro era to end in Cuba as Raul set to step down

It will be the first time in nearly six decades that the island country will not be led by a Castro.

     The Castro family has ruled the socialist nation since a revolution ushered in the rule of Fidel Castro in 1959 [AP]
    The Castro family has ruled the socialist nation since a revolution ushered in the rule of Fidel Castro in 1959 [AP]

    Cuba will open a session of its National Assembly on Wednesday that will mark the end of an era in the socialist nation.

    President Raul Castro, 86, is expected to step down after two five-year terms during the assembly, marking the completion of Castro rule on the socialist nation. 

    First Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel is expected to assume the position of Cuba's president as the handpicked successor after a party vote on Thursday.

    The Castro family has ruled the socialist nation since a revolution ushered in the rule of Fidel Castro in 1959.

    The expected transfer of power comes at a precarious time in Cuba's history. Cuban allies in Latin America have been voted out of government positions across the region in recent years.

    A detente between the US and Cuba, longtime adversaries, has slowed after right-wing Donald Trump became president in 2017.

    Cuba is also facing economic difficulties after Castro initiated market-style reforms that were agreed to in 2011. Though the reforms caused a boom in the Cuban economy, they have since slowed.

    "Despite the errors and insufficiencies recognised in this plenary, the situation is more favourable than a few years ago," Castro, 86, was quoted as saying by party newspaper Granma.

    Political campaigning is outlawed in Cuba, so little is known about Diaz-Canel's plans to navigate these challenges.

    However, there is reason to believe the presumed president will continue with liberalising social policies, given his past support for LGBT rights, expanded internet access and loosening government controls on media. 

    Still, Diaz-Canel is not known to support changing Cuba's government from the one-party system in place since the revolution, a demand from ant-Castro politicians in Washington.

    According to Ted Piccone, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute, the Trump administration will most likely "double down" on its "embrace of punitive regime change" in Cuba after Diaz-Canel assumes power.

    Castro will remain the head of the ruling Communist Party until 2021 and is expected to continue to play a big role in policy decisions.  

    Is it the end of the Castro era?

    Inside Story

    Is it the end of the Castro era?

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera News


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    'We scoured for days without sleeping, just clothes on our backs'

    'We scoured for days without sleeping, just clothes on our backs'

    The Philippines’ Typhoon Haiyan was the strongest storm ever to make landfall. Five years on, we revisit this story.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    Daughters of al-Shabab

    Daughters of al-Shabab

    What draws Kenyan women to join al-Shabab and what challenges are they facing when they return to their communities?