On his last day at the head of the Communist Party of Cuba, Raul castro, 89, hands over power to a new generation of leaders, in a historic moment after 62 years of the Castro brothers at the head of the country, but without any change in the political line.
“We give the direction of the country to a group of leaders prepared, hardened by decades of experience” in the organization and “committed to the ethics and principles of revolution and socialism“, Castro said on Friday, during the opening of the eighth Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC).
President, Miguel Diaz-Canel, 60, will take over on Monday as first secretary of the PCC, the highest position in Cuba, one of the five communist nations in the world, along with China, Vietnam, Laos and North Korea.
The relief occurs in the midst of a deep economic crisis in the country due to the coronavirus pandemic and the strengthening of the embargo that the United States has maintained against the country for 60 years.
Although it is a symbolic transition, in a country where most have only met Fidel and Raúl Castro at the head of power, does not necessarily imply a change in the political line of Cuba.
“Since I was born I know only one party and until now we live with it, and no one is starving”, says Miguel Gainza, a 58-year-old artisan who works in Old Havana and supports this political system.
“Manage a country”
A total of 300 delegates from across the island, representing 700,000 militants, voted directly and secretly on Sunday to elect the Central Committee, made up of 114 members.
The new committee will announce this Monday the formation of the Political Bureau, currently of 17 members, and the leadership of the party.
For John Kavulich, president of the Cuba-United States Economic and Commercial Council, a generational change is necessary. “At present, the combined age of the three current leaders of the Communist Party is approaching 300 years,” he says.
Castro’s departure could be accompanied by the retirement of other militants who achieved the triumph of the revolution in 1959, including the second secretary, José Ramón Machado Ventura, 90, and Ramiro Valdés, 88.
The party is aging. 42.6% of its members are over 55 years old, which frustrates the aspirations of young people.
Kavulich considers that in the party there is a “lack of will to accept that it no longer needs to fight for a revolution, but to manage a country not from the middle of the 20th century, but from the second decade of the 21st century.”
Among many Cubans there is a fatigue due to the shortage and the long lines to get supplies. The country imports 80% of what it consumes.
The government, harassed in the last four years by the tightening of sanctions from Washington, continues to have ideological combat among its priorities.
“The existence in Cuba of a single party has been and will always be in the focus of the enemy’s campaigns”, Castro said in his speech.
“This unit must be guarded with zeal and never accept the division between revolutionaries under false pretenses of greater democracy,” he added.
At the pizzeria where he works with rap music in the background, Luis Enrique Oramas, 30, says that “if they let people say what they think, it would be like in other places, (there would be) two and even three games”.
“Most of us would like more than how the country is moving right now, having a party in which everyone thinks the same”, he added.
The new leadership arrives in the midst of an expansion of social demands in networks, thanks to the arrival of the mobile internet in 2018.
Activists, artists and intellectuals maintain an intense activity in networks, in a country where the demonstrations are almost non-existent.
Before leaving, Castro rejected that “lying, manipulation and the spread of false news no longer know any limits” in reference to criticism on the networks.
It is about “the internal counterrevolution, which lacks a social base, leadership and mobilization capacity,” he added.
During the congress, the party adopted a resolution to confront political and ideological “subversion”.
While the PCC congress was being held, a score of activists, independent journalists and artists denounced on Twitter that the police prevented them from leaving their homes, a resource used to prevent them from meeting.
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.