Cuba’s Communist Party appoints Diaz-Canel as leader and replaces Raul Castro


Cuba’s ruling Communist Party elected President Miguel Diaz-Canel to succeed Raul Castro as the party’s first secretary, the most powerful position in the country, on the last day of its congress on Monday.

The legacy follows the end of six decades of rule by the brothers Fidel and Raul Castro, who led Cuba’s left-wing revolution in 1959, in a transition to a younger generation who worked their way up the ranks of the party instead of forging through guerrilla warfare.

Diaz-Canel, 60, who already succeeded Castro as president in 2018, had generally been expected to be nominated for first party secretary as well. He has emphasized continuity since becoming president and is not expected to move Cuba from a one-party socialist system.

“Diaz-Canel is not the fruit of improvisation but the thoughtful selection of a young revolutionary who has everything it takes to be promoted to higher positions,” Castro said in a speech that opened Congress on Friday, with his military fatigue in contrast to the protagonist’s civilian dress.

Hundreds of party leaders gathered for the party’s most important meeting, which takes place every five years to review politics and elect new leadership in Havana.

Castro said at the last party congress in 2016 that it would be the last to be led by the so-called historical generation of those who fought in the Sierra Maestra to overthrow the US-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista.

The new political policy will not include Jose Ramon Machado Ventura and Ramiro Valdes, two other well-known proponents of that generation. The party has not yet announced who will replace Machado Ventura, a communist ideologue, as deputy party leader.

>> A page turns on Cuba when Raul Castro makes room for the next generation