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Cuba gets new leader as last Castro retires


Picture released by Cuban News Agency (ACN) of Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel delivering a speech during the 3rd session of the 8th Congress of the Cuban Communist Party at the Convention Palace in Havana, on April 18, 2021. – The 8th Congress of the Cuban Communist Party (PCC), which started Friday, will end over six decades of the government of Fidel and Raul Castro, giving way to a new generation. (Photo by Ariel LEY / ACN / AFP) /

Miguel Diaz-Canel on Monday replaced Raul Castro as the leader of Cuba and its all-powerful communist party, the party announced, ending six decades of Castro rule.


Diaz-Canel, 60, has already served as Cuba’s president since 2018, and now also takes the most powerful position, that of first secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC) as Castro, 89, enters retirement.

Diaz-Canel is Cuba’s first civilian leader and the first non-Castro in power after Raul and his revolutionary brother Fidel, who led the country from 1959 to 2006, when he fell ill.

“Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez was elected the first secretary of the central committee of the Communist Party of Cuba,” the PCC said on Twitter as the transfer of power was rubber-stamped on the fourth and final day of a party congress.


In his final address to the party last Friday, Castro affirmed a “willingness to conduct a respectful dialogue and build a new kind of relationship with the United States,” which has had sanctions against Cuba since 1962.

But he stressed the country would not renounced “the principles of the revolution and socialism.”

The leadership change is not expected to yield any major policy shifts and comes as Cuba battles its worst economic crisis in 30 years, sky-high inflation, biting food shortages, long lines for basic necessities and growing disgruntlement over limited freedoms.


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