Post-Castro Cuba looms as lawmakers began two-day debate on new president

Post-Castro Cuba looms as lawmakers began two-day debate on new president

The family of President Raúl Castro has ruled Cuba since 1959.

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Photo: Reuters/Enrique de la Osa

Cuba’s national assembly will begin deliberations today to select a successor to President Raúl Castro, whose family has ruled Cuba since 1959.

The expected successor to replace the 86-year-old is Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel, described by one Cuban analyst as “seasoned, pragmatic and moderate”. Mr Castro, on the other hand, will continue to serve as the First Secretary of the Communist Party, the leadership of which has historically made all economic, social and foreign policies. Mr Castro will still have the final say when it comes to policy decision-making, but will do so more indirectly going forward.

The power dynamic between president and Party means that Mr Diaz-Canel is likely to continue in the same vein as Raúl Castro; a dramatic alteration in Cuban policy is therefore unlikely.

However, questions are being raised about the political fate of Cuba after Mr Castro and his revolutionary cadres leave the political scene. While a Diaz-Canel presidency might initially be obligated to conform to the values the Communist Party has historically espoused, post-Castro Cuba could see fundamental changes in the structure of Cuba’s existing government – a shift to nominal over direct Party control of policy is a possibility.