Cuba Has Raul Castro Till 2018

February 24, 2013 | Print Print |

Fidel and Raul Castro at the first session of the new Cuban legislature on Sunday, February 24, 2013. Photo: granma.cubaweb.cu

HAVANA TIMES — The new Cuban parliament today ratified Raul Castro as president for another five years. He first took that office in 2006 following the illness of his brother, Fidel, reported DPA news.

Castro, 81, announced to the country’s parliament that he will leave office in 2018. “I wish to clarify that in my case, irrespective of when a constitution reform on term limits takes place, this will be my last period,” he said today when assuming his second five-year term.

His departure therefore doesn’t depend on when the constitutional amendment is approved establishing term limits of two five-year terms for senior-level officials.

Castro, who came to power in 2006 following the illness of his brother, officially assumed his first term in February 2008.

Today, the parliament also elected Miguel Diaz-Canel (a relatively young 52-year-old politician) as first vice president of the new 31-member Council of State.

Raul Castro praised Diaz-Canel as the person best suited to ensure “continuity” and “stability” in case of “any contingency” on the island owing to “the loss of the highest leadership.”

This new “number two” of the government is replacing Jose Ramon Machado Ventura, 82, who was one of the “historicos” of the Cuban Revolution. Diaz-Canel thus becomes the youngest face in the upper echelons of power.

“This decision is of particular historical significance because it represents a defining step in shaping the future direction of the country,” said Raul Castro, following the appointment of Diaz-Canel.

Raul Castro praised the new first Vice-president Miguel Diaz-Canel as the person best suited to ensure “continuity” and “stability” in case of “any contingency” on the island owing to “the loss of the highest leadership.”

The inaugural session was also attended by former president Fidel Castro, 86, who hadn’t appeared before the legislative body since August 2010.

Raul Castro had repeatedly stressed the need to rejuvenate the governmental apparatus because “time is short.” In April 2011, the younger Castro acknowledged that the country didn’t have a “reserve of properly prepared substitutes.”

In the inaugural session today, the assembly also elected Esteban Lazo as president of the parliament. Lazo, 68, replaces Ricardo Alarcon, who had served in that post for two decades.

Lazo — a deputy since 1981 and considered one of the hardliners of the Communist Party of Cuba — had up until now served as one of the vice presidents of the Council of State, a position he had held since 1992.

Read Raul Castro’s acceptance speech (available thus far only in Spanish).

 

 


What's your opinion?

  • Griffin

    While this may look like news, it’s not. That the Castro brothers are old and getting older still is perfectly well understood. They are not immortal. All that Raul has announced today is an ordinary fact of life, …ordinary enough for a dictator-for-life. He will rule till he dies, or like his big bro, becomes the walking dead.

    • ac

      Yes, but you are missing an important announcement. Raul called for some constitutional amendments to align the constitution with the direction of the recent reforms, not just to formalize the two 5 year period limit. Depending on how that card is played, this can signal deeper reforms in the horizon, lets wait and see.

      The announcements of a candidate for succession was secondary and nothing really unexpected (they have been “grooming” Diaz Canel in the previous months). To me, more unexpected is the selection of Esteban Lazo as head of the Parliament. Besides being a little too “conservative”, my understanding is that he has been out of the public eye for health issues.

      • Moses Patterson

        Esteban Lazo is the token afro-Cuban in Castro’s leadership. To earn Fidel’s confidence and overcome racial prejudices, Lazo had to become a ‘super-Commie’. Have you noticed when African or Caribbean heads-of-state visit Cuba, Lazo is always the Cuban dignitary who recieves them but if a Latin American or European delegation visits, Lazo is never in the photo? BTW, is there a more high-profile but do nothing job than the President of the Parliament? In twenty years, does anyone remember anything Alarcon did other than embarass himself with Eliecer Avila?

        • ac

          Token or not, that “super-commie” is now the head of the Cuban parliament and can hinder the reform process if he chooses to do so. And remember that formally the parliament is the one making the rules and he will be leading if for the time being.

          As for your racial comments regarding Lazo, I made a quick google image search of him and found plenty of pictures with Latin America and Europe leaders, so you are demonstrably wrong. Even more now, that as head of the parliament every single notable visitor will have to deal with him.

          If this decision had racist motivations, he would be promoted to vice-president instead and confined to a dark corner of the state bureaucracy, well hidden from the public view.

        • Griffin

          The President of the Cuban Parliament is the ink pad of the rubber stamp.

      • Griffin

        I guess we shall see what the constitutional amendments will be. If they are limited to enshrining term limits and the few economic changes thus far introduced, the amendments won’t amount to much.

        Change is coming to Cuba one way or another. It would be better to have a careful, well thought out transition to a pluralist democracy. But if the ruling party refuses to even consider such a thing, then change will come in a far more chaotic manner as the old system collapses.

        That which cannot be sustained, won’t.

        • ac

          Exactly my thoughts. They don’t need to make any constitutional amendment for the changes approved so far, so unless the call is just for the two terms period limit (that AFAIK don’t really need to be codified as a constitutional amendment, not to mention that Raul speech hinted otherwise), it can only mean a deepening of the reform process.

          And even simple things, like expanding private property rights in the constitution would signal the recognition that these changes came to stay (as opposed to the 1994 changes that were merely an expression of immediate need and were discouraged after the economy gained a degree of stabilization).

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-Goodrich/100003362238330 John Goodrich

          Multi-party democracies are nothing but the dictatorship of the top parties as is the case in the U.S. where there is actually an “unelected dictatorship of money” that is in control of both the Republican and Democratic parties.
          Third party candidates have ZERO chance of election .

          Cuba’s Poder Popular, in banning the participation of all political parties in elections was, in theory , the best possible way to elect the choices of the people and not just the candidates pre-selected by either big money as they are in the States or by the PCC as they are now under a badly corrupted Poder Popular.

          Political parties kill democracy not enhance it.
          Direct democracy is the most difficult method of electing people to corrupt .

  • gltoffic

    I challenge the Havana Times to consider the possibility of Cuba merging with Mexico with Havana as the combined capital. Cuba has so much to offer the Mexican people in the way of education, the arts, medicine, women’s rights and drug control but to name a few. There is also a great number of examples of other developed countries with free market economies with large socialist infrastructure, institutions and mentality. The two forms compliment and enhance each other in almost all cases.
    Many key pillars of Cuban society would not only not have to change but could also be shared with millions of Mexicans.
    Other parts of a combined society, such as greater trade and acceptance in the world at large, freedom of travel and of information would be more easily attained. The expansion of state owned Pemex would also be of value to the combined countries.
    Finally the promise of a greatly expanded job market would lead to the dream of full expression of talents among millions of Cubans and Mexicans who currently find such goals wanting.
    I as you to dare to dream.
    gltoffic@aim.com

    • tommariner

      Mexicans are voting with their feet which country they would most like to be combined with.

      I’d rather see the proud Cuban people retake their leadership position in the Caribbean, without a government that has survived for the best part of a century by blaming somebody else. I also would have rather seen the revolutionary leader step down after one term like Nelson Mandela did and live his life as an icon honored around the world.

    • Moses Patterson

      Culturally, these are two very different cultures. In short, where Mexicans are soft-spoken and conflict-averse, Cubans are argumentative and aggressive. Mexicans celebrate their indigenous Mayan and Aztec roots and Cubans all but ignore the Taino indian history of the island. Mexicans are proud Catholics and Cuba is officially a secular state and a majority of Cubans practice the syncretic Santeria cult. This and much more makes your challenge to dream more like a nightmare. BTW, don’t believe the hype. Mexican doctors, scientists and artists are every bit as talented as their Cuban colleagues and with better technology.

      • ac

        Agree with most of your post, except the indigenous traditions. In Cuba, the Taino (as well as other native groups) were virtually wiped out and even now the small pockets of survivors are too mixed with Hispanic and African migration as to be considered an ethnic group by their own right.

        Yet, their historic legacy is integral part of the Cuban culture, not only in names of important locations -Havana itself is an example-, but some typically Cuban traditions traditions like smoking tobacco and some foods like tamale and casabe can be traced to native origins. Also their choice of death over slavery is a basic pillar of the Cuban nation and is coded in the symbology of the Tocororo as national bird.

  • Moses Patterson

    The Cuba of 2018 will likely be without a Hugo Chavez subsidy and without Fidel. An almost 86 year-old Raul, himself, will not exactly be running laps at the gym. By that time, immigration reform will be old news and the economic chasm between those Cubans who travel and those who don’t will be set in stone. Against this backdrop, if Raul believes that the “perfection of socialism” will continue unabated, someone has been smoking moringa.

  • Griffin

    The headline above is backwards. It should read:

    “Raul Castro Has Cuba Til 2018″