Miguel Diaz-Canel elected as Cuba's new President

20 April, 2018, 01:59 | Author: Clarence Schmidt
  • Cuban President Raul Castro waves next to First Vice President Miguel Diaz Canel during a National Assembly session that will select Cuba's Council of State ahead of the naming of a new president in Havana

Cuba swears in its new president on Thursday, with outgoing leader Raul Castro, 86, handing over power to his first vice-president, Miguel Diaz-Canel, 57.

The vote on Thursday marked the end of an era for Cuba, making Diaz-Canel the first person outside the Castro family to rule the country in 59 years. Diaz-Canel's first speech as the Cuban leader emphasized that his main goal will be to continue the Revolution launched on January 1,1959, and the legacy of its historic leader Fidel Castro (1926-2016) and the ideas of his predecessor, Raul Castro. In addition, the Chinese President committed to work together with Diaz Canel to deep the ties, enhance cooperation and seize future achievements to contribute to honoring bilateral relations even more. He was head of the Young Communist League of Cuba (UJC) in his native province of Villa Clara, located some 290 km east of the capital city Havana. Its economy has grown 2.4% on average per year over the last decade, according to official statistics. Most of the population is getting by largely due to free education, free healthcare, and some subsidized food and housing. "I'd like to have more opportunity, to buy a vehicle, and have a few possessions".

The Candidacy Commission also nominated another six vice presidents of the Council of State, Cuba's highest government body.

The party selected six vice presidents, only one of whom, Ramiro Valdes Menendez, 85, fought in the revolution.

State media went into overdrive Wednesday with a single message: Cuba's system is continuing in the face of change. "We're a generation born after the revolution, whose responsibility is driving the destiny of the nation".

A stalwart of the ruling Communist Party, Diaz-Canel was sworn in to replace Raul Castro by the National Assembly in a new chapter for the Caribbean island but one that has been carefully managed and is aimed at preserving the political system. Ceremonies continued through lunchtime and broke until Thursday morning, when the new national leadership is expected to be officially announced on the anniversary of the defeat of US -backed invaders at the Bay of Pigs in 1961.

"Comrade Raul Castro has more than honored the enormous responsibility entrusted by the Cuban people to take the witness from Commander Fidel Castro, performing with wisdom, loyalty, and courage; as he did in all the tasks that history put him in front, as a combatant of a thousand battles with Fidel, since July 26, the Granma and the Sierra Maestra, with the triumph of the Revolution, for nearly six decades of anti-imperialist resistance and integral progress of the Cuban people", Maduro said.

Between them, the Castro brothers made the island of more than 11 million people a key player in the Cold War and helped keep communism afloat despite the collapse of the Soviet Union.Raul has been in power since 2006, when he took over after illness sidelined Fidel.


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