Raul Castro picks ‘young’ new heir to take regime into future
HAVANA (AFP) – President Raul Castro has been re-elected to what he vowed would be his last term in office, and unveiled a 52-year-old political heir tasked with securing the future of the communism in Cuba after 2018.
“This will be my last term,” Castro, 81, told lawmakers after the National Assembly reelected him Sunday and named a new regime number two, Council of State Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel.
Castro said he was “elected to defend, maintain and continue perfecting socialism — not to destroy it,” adding that his economic reforms will create “a less egalitarian society, but a fairer one.”
Choosing Diaz-Canel, a former military man and professor from Villa Clara who has represented the president on foreign trips in recent months, “marks a final step in configuring the country’s future leadership, through the slow and orderly transfer of the main leadership positions to new generations,” Castro said.
The changes are in line with a decision adopted by the Communist Party last year to limit the terms of top office holder to 10 years. Raul Castro will reach this limit on February 24, 2018.
Raul Castro became Cuba’s interim president when Fidel took ill in 2006. He formally became president in 2008.
Through the Cold War and now for more than two decades after it, the United States has tried to isolate Cuba to press for democratic change.
In 1962, it imposed a full trade embargo on Havana – the only one-party Communist regime in the Americas – to pressure the communist island to open up democratically and economically.