Castro era to end in Cuba as Raul set to step down

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A new Cuban leader could mean change in the island nation, and while some 7News spoke with at Cafe Versailles are optimistic, others said it would not be enough.

As a young provincial party chief, Diaz-Canel bucked party orthodoxy by backing an LGBT-friendly cultural centre, reportedly listening to rock music and sporting long hair. He was summoned to Havana in 2009 to be higher education minister and in 2013 Castro made him his right-hand man, praising him for his "solid ideological strength".

William Leogrande, a professor and Latin America expert at the American University School of Public Affairs, said Raul Castro's legacy hinges on how well his successor is able to grow Cuba's economy and continue his path of reform.

In a video of a Communist Party meeting that inexplicably leaked to the public previous year, Diaz-Canel expressed a series of orthodox positions that included somberly pledging to shutter some independent media and labeling some European embassies as outposts of foreign subversion. Worldwide observers and Cubans alike will be scrutinizing every move he makes after he officially takes office on Thursday.

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Cuba's legislature has opened a two-day session that is to elect a successor to President Raul Castro.

"Most Cubans, especially the young, await an unambiguous, decisive acceleration of market-opening reforms", Feinberg said.

"I don't want to see a capitalist system, hopefully that doesn't come here, but we have to fix the economy", said Roberto Sanchez, a 41-year-old construction worker. This comes after the next selected leader, 57-year-old Miguel Mario Diaz-Canel Bermudez, was a shoe-in for the election since he was the only candidate on the ballot.

18 de abril de 2018, 15:18Havana, Apr 18 (Prensa Latina) Cuban President Raul Castro today exercised his right to elect the Council of State, a body for which the lawmaker and current vice-president, Miguel Diaz-Canel, was proposed as its president. Only one of the five, 85-year-old Ramiro Valdez, was among the revolutionaries who fought with the Castros in the eastern Sierra Maestra mountains. Few Cubans use Twitter and the vast majority of the country relies on TV for news.

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Ultimately though, Diaz-Canel appears to be a consensus candidate hand-picked by Castro who earned trust by working his way through the ranks for over three decades and sticking to the party line on key political and economic issues, analysts say.

A vote was not done by the Cuban people, but instead, a secret vote was held by the Cuba National Assembly, Wednesday, which ended the 60-year Castro family reign.

His recent public statements have focused on the need for continuity and fighting imperialism, a defiant and well-worn message as Cuba faces renewed tensions with the United States following President Donald Trump's election.

Castro became president in 2008 when his brother, Fidel Castro, formally handed over power as his health deteriorated.

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