Advertisement

After 59 years, Cuba says goodbye to Castro-family leadership

In this Nov. 2, 2002 file photo, Cuban President Fidel Castro, left, seated next to his brother Defense Minister Raul Castro and first Vice President, speaks during the inauguration of the ninth session of the National Assembly, in Havana, Cuba. Cuba s welcoming it's first non-Castro leader since the 1959 revolution. AP Photo/Cristobal Herrera, File

Miguel Diaz-Canel was proposed in Cuba‘s parliament on Wednesday as the sole candidate to replace Raul Castro as president, which will make him the island’s first non-Castro leader since the 1959 revolution.

READ MORE: No, Justin Trudeau is not Fidel Castro’s son

Castro, 86, is stepping down after 10 years in office. The National Assembly was due to vote later in the day on the proposal to replace him with Diaz-Canel, a 57-year-old engineer who is currently first vice president.

Diaz-Canel, born after the revolution, embraces technology and appears socially liberal. Also a stalwart of the ruling Communist Party, he is considered a safe bet to inherit the ideological mantle of Castro and other elderly leaders who helped Fidel Castro oust U.S.-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista.

WATCH: Canada pulls families of diplomatic staff from Cuba after mysterious health symptoms

Click to play video: 'Canada pulls families of diplomatic staff from Cuba after mysterious health symptoms' Canada pulls families of diplomatic staff from Cuba after mysterious health symptoms
Canada pulls families of diplomatic staff from Cuba after mysterious health symptoms – Apr 17, 2018

The new president is likely to be cautious at first, seeking to consolidate support among conservatives despite desire among young Cubans for faster development. He is unlikely to challenge one-party rule.

Story continues below advertisement

 

While this week’s assembly is promoting younger leaders of government, Castro and other elders of the revolution will likely retain a degree of power on the Caribbean island as senior leaders of the Communist Party until a party congress set for 2021.

Incoming Cuban president Miguel Diaz-Canel, right, is seen in this 2013 file photo with Raul Castro.
Incoming Cuban president Miguel Diaz-Canel, right, is seen in this 2013 file photo with Raul Castro. AP Photo/Cubadebate, Ismael Francisco

Wearing a dark suit in place of military fatigues, Castro sat near Diaz-Canel as an official read out the names of proposed leaders to the 604 legislators gathered at a convention center in a Havana suburb.

Castro became president in 2008 when his brother, Fidel Castro, formally handed over power as his health deteriorated. Fidel Castro died in 2016 aged 90.

Then-Cuban president Fidel Castro, and his younger brother Raul Castro are shown in Havana in this Feb. 8, 1986 file photo. AP Photo/Charles Tasnadi, File

Raul Castro brought change, significantly thawing relations with the United States for the first time since the revolution took the island on a sharply leftward path. He also introduced market reforms to one of the world’s last Soviet-style centrally planned economies.

Story continues below advertisement

But Cuba’s economy remains smaller than it was in 1985, when it had the support of Communist ally, the Soviet Union, and some Cubans are pessimistic about their lives improving.

READ MORE: Cuba bans naming sites after Fidel Castro in accordance with his wishes

The economy is suffering the effects of a crisis in oil benefactor Venezuela. Relations with the United States are strained anew under President Donald Trump and Cuba has few allies in the region.

WATCH: Trudeau’s comments on Fidel Castro under fire

Click to play video: 'Trudeau’s comments on Fidel Castro under fire' Trudeau’s comments on Fidel Castro under fire
Trudeau’s comments on Fidel Castro under fire – Nov 28, 2016

The rubber-stamp assembly will vote on another 30 other members of Cuba’s state council along with the replacement for Castro.

The new president and state council are due to be sworn in on Thursday.

Story continues below advertisement

— Additional reporting by Patricia Zengerle in Washington Editing by Sarah Marsh and Frances Kerry

Sponsored content