Cuban President Raul Castro, 81, will retire at the end of his second term in office, in 2018. Sunday, Castro named Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez as heir apparent and vice-president. If Raul has to step down before 2018 Miguel will be ready, willing and able to step in.
The announcement was made on Sunday, when former Cuban leader Fidel Castro and Raul, his brother, appeared together in a rare joint public appearance at the Cuban National Assembly. Other announcements included the re-election as vice president of Commander of the Revolution Ramiro Valdes, 80, and Gladys Bejerano, 66, the comptroller general.
Speaking of the Assembly Raul said, “Of the 31 members, 41.9 per cent are women and 38.6 per cent are black or of mixed race. The average age is 57 years and 61.3 per cent were born after the triumph of the revolution" reports Reuters.
Socialism will stay at the heart of government in spite of change. Raul said "Our greatest satisfaction is the tranquility and serene confidence we feel as we deliver to the new generations the responsibility to continue building socialism."
Failing health resulted in Fidel Castro stepping down from office in 2006 but he remained deputy in the National Assembly.
Opinion: The old guard, so much a part of the 1959 Cuban revolution, are gradually fading and, in 2013, Cuba is almost a one-off on the world stage. The toppling of dictators globally, by uprisings, makes Cuba more isolated than ever. The country still has some global support, notably Russia, but this is waning. That is partly due to changing times in other countries.
Cuba is facing some tough realities. On the home front a lack of suitably trained political officials has led to some bad decisions. The old guard clung on to power too long leaving the new generation of possible leaders ill-prepared.
Cuba has stood its ground against crippling sanctions by America but it has paid a tough price. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev criticised these long-standing sanctions, Saturday, during a visit to Cuba.
Post-revolution Cuba suffered the wrath of the USA and that has not faded with the passing years. It is ironic that the USA is supporting a revolution in Syria and in 2011 supported the Arab Spring which included revolutions in Libya, Egypt and other Middle Eastern countries.
You may choose to believe America’s stance on Cuba is due to the country’s close proximity to the USA but it is more than that. America feared communism and still does. It apparently is more afraid of communism than radical Islamist militants. That is it was until it learned a tough lesson. One of the biggest threats to world peace is hard-line Islamist militants. The west happily supported the uprisings in the Middle East and is now paying the price. The fragile state of the region, post Arab Spring, is illustrated by a recent spate of kidnappings in the Maghreb.
Cuba has struggled to survive as American sanctions hit hard. Did these sanctions break the country? Perhaps in part but the Cuban strength of spirit must surely be applauded?
A new dawn will have to come in Cuba but whether that will be more of the same or real change only time will tell. That will of course be up to the people of Cuba and the country’s leaders but ultimately it will also be up to Cuba’s neighbour, the USA.
Announcing future leaders, to reinforce the Cuban regime, may not guarantee a stable future. Revolution could yet change the face of Cuba once more. If it did would America support this revolution?