Miguel Díaz-Canel Named Cuba's New President
Raúl Castro passed on the presidency of Cuba to Miguel Díaz-Canel, the country’s first leader without the Castro name in almost 60 years.
Díaz-Canel was elected president with an almost unanimous vote from the National Assembly after serving as vice-president for the past five years.
Raúl Castro, 86, will be stepping down after 12 years as president but will stay on as First Secretary of the Communist Party in order to guide his successor in what he considers to be a desperate need to fight corruption.
In his acceptance speech, Díaz-Canel called for “the modernization of our social and economic model”, but was careful to note that there is “no room in Cuba for those who strive for the restoration of capitalism.”
According to The New York Times, “Díaz-Canel’s slow and steady climb up the ranks of the bureaucracy has come through unflagging loyalty to the socialist cause.”
The new president started out as a member of the Young Communist League and at the age of 33, he became the League's second secretary.
Díaz-Canel enters office at a critical time for Cuba. Despite the Obama administration’s decision to restore diplomatic relations, the Trump administration has been slowly reversing the peace process between the two countries.
Cuba also faces crises due to its dual-currency system. According to The Guardian, “if not managed correctly, unification could provoke inflation which could hit the purchasing power of poorer Cubans who form the base of the government’s support.”
Even government officials welcomed Díaz-Canel with open arms, the country still remains divided as the working class of Cuba remains unenthused by their new president.
“This is not good news for me,” said Liliam Rodríguez, a tour guide in Havana. “[It] looks like he’s against the private sector in recent speeches.”
Taxi driver Gerardo Cartalla admitted that he did not foresee Díaz-Canel being president. “In the current situation, I’d have liked Raúl to stay on as president. He’s somebody everybody respects,” said Cartalla.
Unlike his predecessor, Díaz-Canel can only govern a maximum of 10 years due to established term limits implemented by Raúl Castro.
Díaz-Canel concluded his inaugural address with a phrase that is indicative of his platform and attitude: “Socialism or Death! We will triumph!”