A page turns in Cuba as Raul Castro makes way for next generation
Raul Castro is due officially to step down from Cuban political life during the country’s Communist Party congress that begins Friday. He is expected to cede the post of party secretary-general, the country’s most powerful role, to Miguel Diaz-Canel, who took over from Castro as Cuba’s president in 2018. The move represents a new step in the transition of power from the Castro family to a new generation born after the 1959 revolution.
More than 60 years after Fidel Castro entered Havana and took power, Cuba is poised for public life without a member of the Castro clan. The 89-year-old Raul, a fellow leader of the 1959 revolution who first took over Cuba’s presidency from his ailing older brother in 2006, will attend his final Communist Party congress as secretary-general this weekend. At the close of the four-day event, Castro will hand over the reins to its freshly elected chief, with his protégé Diaz-Canel the favourite in line for the role.
“Raul Castro’s departure from political life has been expected for a long time,” Cuba specialist Stéphane Witkowski, of the Institute for Higher Learning on Latin America (IHEAL) in Paris, told FRANCE 24. “It represents a step in the process of generational transition between those who lived through the 1959 revolution and the new generation.”
“Indeed, the date surely wasn’t chosen randomly,” the specialist noted, coinciding as it does with the 60th anniversary of the failed landing attempt at the Bay of Pigs by 1,400 anti-Castro paramilitaries trained and financed by the CIA. “It’s highly symbolic,” said Witkowski.
The transition between generations
Cuba’s political transition had already seen a decisive line crossed in 2018 when Castro ceded the country’s presidency to Diaz-Canel. The former minister for Higher Education, who turns 61 next week, incarnates a new generation that came of age after the revolution.
That succession, under Cuba’s one-party system, was meticulously prepared and, significantly, Castro retained a political role. He remained secretary-general of the Communist Party, a post that had until then been combined with the country’s presidency…..read more