Raul Castro, brother of Fidel Castro and his successor, will be stepping down from his post as first secretary on Friday, as Cuba begins its eight Communist Party Congress. Ricardo Torres Perez, who is a professor of economics at the University of Havana, said that they expect the old generation of the Party to step down from their current positions and this included Raul.
When Raul Castro steps down, it will be the end of the Castro era. However, many believe that there will neither be any drastic changes in the nation itself nor in its relationship with the U.S… It is expected that the leadership will change hands from Castro to President Miguel-Diaz Canel. It is also expected that the rest of the Politburo will consist of middle aged leaders who were born just before or after the revolution rather than the younger generation, who are looking for changes.
The leadership is changing amid difficulties as the COVID-19 pandemic had a huge detrimental effect on the island nation’s tourism driven economy. The country has also not been able to implement reforms that were agreed upon by the party congress in 2011.
The government is moving ahead to implement drastic economic reforms. In the early nineties the collapse of the erstwhile Soviet Union led to a deep recession in Cuba. The 60-year old Diaz-Canel, who is relatively young when compared with the old guard many of whom are in their eighties, speaks of a single currency for both locals and foreigners. This is necessary for economic growth.
According to Reuters, Diaz-Canel had spoken about agricultural reforms saying that anything which stimulated production, removed impediments and benefited the producer was a favorable reform.
Change will come to Cuba but it will be slow to come as Diaz-Canel is likely to continue with Castro’s policies. The Castros have led the island nation for more than 60 years.
Fulton Armstrong, a former director of the Inter-American Affairs at the National Security Council who worked on Cuban issues, said that many people believe that Cuba needs “gradual change, not implosion or explosion.”