CUBA: First Non-Castro President in Nearly 60 Years

 

Miguel Diaz-Canel has been named Cuba’s next president, marking the first time in 60 years the communist-run country has had a president outside the Castro family.

The 57-year-old Diaz-Canel, the only candidate for the job, won a five-year term, according to state media.

The move was not expected to usher in drastic change. Upon being sworn in Thursday, Diaz-Canel promised to continue the Castros’ revolution.

Diaz-Canel, a former first vice president, appears to be socially liberal and is considered an acceptable successor to the retiring elderly leaders who fought in the revolution.

He succeeds 86-year-old Raul Castro, who is resigning after 10 years in office. Raul Castro’s late brother, Fidel, served as prime minister and president after the armed Cuban Revolution in 1959 until he became ill in 2006.

While the leadership transition is elevating younger leaders, Raul Castro and other older revolutionaries are expected to retain their power, due to their hold on the Communist Party. Castro will remain party leader.

On Miguel Diaz-Canel falls some of the most complicated economic challenges that the Raul Castro administration couldn’t solve. … Example number one: the dual monetary system.

The unification of the Cuban monetary system is critical for its future economic prosperity,” stresses Bustamante to La Tercera.

For several years the government has been saying it will converge its two currencies – the Cuban Peso (CUP) and the Convertible Cuban Peso (CUC).

Yet, the CUC, initially introduced in 1994 to strengthen the economy and to be limited to tourist use, has since spread to all areas of the economy and created serious divisions in a society known for its equality.

Though academics are saying Diaz-Canel’s presidency would not be a sea change in terms of introducing revolutionary politics, this is a historical generational shift for the island, the revolution and Latin America that has used Cuba as its socialist example.

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