Cuba gets new leader as last Castro retires

2021-04-19 16:20:37 GMT2021-04-20 00:20:37(Beijing Time) Sina English

Cuba’s ruling Communist Party elected President Miguel Diaz-Canel to succeed Raul Castro as party first secretary, the most powerful position in the country, on the final day of its congress on Monday.

“Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez was elected first secretary of the central committee of the Communist Party of Cuba,” the PCC said on Twitter as the transfer of power was approved by the congress.

The succession marks the end of six decades of rule by brothers Fidel and Raul Castro, who led Cuba’s leftist 1959 revolution, in a transition to a younger generation that worked its way up the party ranks rather than forging itself through guerilla warfare.

Diaz-Canel, 60, who already succeeded Castro as president in 2018, had been widely expected to be nominated first party secretary, too.

He has emphasized continuity since becoming president.

“Diaz-Canel is not the fruit of improvization but of the thoughtful selection of a young revolutionary who has all that is required to be promoted to higher positions,” Castro said in a speech opening the congress on Friday.

In his final address to the party, Castro affirmed a “willingness to conduct a respectful dialogue and build a new kind of relationship with the United States,” which has had sanctions against Cuba since 1962.

But he stressed Cuba would not renounce “the principles of the revolution and socialism.”

Hundreds of party delegates gathered for the party’s most important meeting, that takes place every five years to review policy and elect new leadership, in Havana.

Castro said at the last party congress in 2016 it would be the last presided over by the so-called historic generation of those who fought in the Sierra Maestra to overthrow the US-backed government of dictator Fulgencio Batista.

The new policy setting Political Bureau will not include Jose Ramon Machado Ventura and Ramiro Valdes, two other proponents of that generation.