Venezuela: Nicolas Maduro Congratulates Cuba, President Miguel Díaz-Canel

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The 57-year-old father of two was elected president of Cuba on April 19 after Raul Castro, who led the country for 10 years, stepped down.

As a result, Castro will remain the most powerful person in Cuba for the time being.

With Castro watching from the audience, Diaz-Canel made clear that he would defer to the man who, along with his brother Fidel, founded and ruled for six decades what has become of one of the world's last communist governments.

Raul Castro is still expected to exercise a large measure of control over the Cuban government and have the final say on important decisions.

In his first speech as the new head of state before the National Assembly, Diaz-Canel said that "in this new legislature there will be no space for those aspiring to a capitalist restoration".

"Politically it's going to be complicated", said Alzugaray, adding "he has an advantage, he's going to have Raul Castro around to support him, to continue to be his mentor". Tall and gray-haired, he speaks in a soft monotone and rarely strays too far from the script in public appearances.

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Though he has spoken about these liberalising measures, Diaz-Canel is not known to support changing Cuba's government from the one-party system in place since the revolution, a demand from anti-Castro politicians in Washington, DC.

Raul has been in power since 2006, when he took over after illness sidelined Fidel. “Strategically, Diaz-Canel must confront renewed hostility from the US administration.”.

In the past year, the Cuba leadership has increasingly thrust Diaz-Canel, a former education minister, into the spotlight, making him the face of hurricane recovery efforts after Irma slammed the island last September, sending him on foreign trips and making him available for symbolic photo ops.

Diaz-Canel will assume power at a time when relations with the United States have plummeted following a historic rapprochement under the Obama administration.

Havana has long hailed the showdown as American imperialism's first great defeat in Latin America.

Miguel Diaz-Canel in Havana on February 1, 2018. He noted that Cuba will not make concessions under pressure or threats.

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The 86-year-old Castro will remain head of the Communist Party, designated by the Constitution as "the superior guiding force of society and the state".

Castro's moves to open the economy have largely been frozen or reversed as soon as they began to generate conspicuous shows of wealth by the new entrepreneurial class in a country officially dedicated to equality among its citizens.

A detente between the USA and Cuba, longtime adversaries, has slowed after Donald Trump became president in 2017.

Diaz-Canel inherits a youthful population hungry for change.

Cuba watchers and domestic analysts say he will favor continuity over change in the early days of his presidency, however.

He added that Cuba has become closer economically and politically to Russian Federation and China, countries that don't tie investment to questions of human rights and democracy.

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