Cuba’s National Assembly has appointed Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel as the only candidate in the running to become the country’s next president. The 57-year-old long-standing Communist Party member, if elected, will replace current Cuban president Raul Castro. While the younger and more tech-savvy political figure is said to be in touch with the people, locals and political insiders believe that the legacy of the Castro family regime will likely continue.
The Washington Post reported on Wednesday that the assembly had made its formal announcement. Votes for the presidency, as well as the 31 members of Cuba’s ruling Council of State, would be held the same day with the results to be revealed on Thursday. A win for Diaz-Canel would mark the end of nearly six decades of leadership by Fidel Castro, who was succeeded by his brother Raul after his death in 2016. Fidel Castro was 90-years-old at the time of his demise.
Political insiders say that Diaz-Canel has been indoctrinated with similar ideologies to those that are the earmarks of the Castro regime. Former Cuban diplomat Carlos Alzugaray called the relationship between Raul Castro and Diaz-Canel one of “mentor and disciple.” Castro, who is 86, will maintain a powerful presence in Cuba and continue as the head of the Communist Party.
Diaz-Canel will take the reins backed by a diverse and much younger council, according to the Post. Nominees for the Council of State include both black as well as female candidates for the position of vice president. They are all described as staunch loyalists to the current regime and are expected to make slow, measured changes to the way Cuba is governed.
Local reactions to the appointment have been varied. Because the new governing body will follow several of the established ideas and methods, many Castro family loyalists are confident in their ability to maintain continuity.
According to the Post, however, some younger residents see the change in rulership as no change at all. Citing a disconnect between former leadership and the needs of the little man, confidence that change will come to Cuba is low. Any improvements to their quality of life will take time.