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After the Castros

Just wondering who becomes leader of Cuba after Castros aren’t able. Miguel Díaz-Canel, or someone else ?

Miguel Díaz-Canel is being groomed for the position of President. Raul Castro has said that he plans on retiring in 2018, so, presumably, this would be when Díaz-Canel will take over. In Cuba, Díaz-Canel is shown on television almost every night and he is a key figure in almost all political assemblies. This is done specifically to give him both experience and to get the population used to seeing him. Generally, from the Cubans I know, they really like him, both for his charisma and his political stance. But, there is always some apprehension because the Castro’s have been in control for so long… change is hard.

But that leads to another question, what happens to the Castro’s after Díaz-Canel becomes president. Well, Fidel, as long as he is living, will always be the real leader of the country, both from an ideological standpoint and from a political one. In my opinion, that’s a good thing. Fidel basically spent his whole life trying to further the development of Cuba. Maintaining the culture and guiding it through problems. He is not just another dictator, like some people like to say. He does not steal money or have a collection of fancy cars, jets and foreign bank accounts. He is a man of the people. Sure, he lives in a nicer house than most Cubans, but, after all, he is the president. Cubans respect him, and as long as he is alive, he will be the real president.

As for Raul, I have to say, although he is respected, he is no Fidel. He lacks the charm, the ability to inspire passion and fear, the presence… In many ways, I see him as being a bit of a failure for some of the actions he has taken lately to “revamp” the Cuban system. He is selling out in a way. Fidel, after years of opposition to these changes, is likely just letting his little brother have a bit of space to do his thing, knowing that, unfortunately, change will come whether he likes it or not.

The other thing to remember is that Cuba is not simply controlled unilaterally by one man. There is a government in place, with many political and military leaders who have power and influence. They all have a role in guiding the country forward. Will the era of Díaz-Canel lead to significant changes? Do people even want changes? Time will tell. Díaz-Canel is often viewed as a hardliner, but these days, what does that even mean?

In my opinion, the best we can hope for is that Cuba, led by Díaz-Canel, is able to continue along its own path and not be too tempted into capitalism or great economic or political change. There are dozens of countries very eager to take advantage of everything the country has to offer, and if they are not pushed back, they will simply turn Cuba into a giant Caribbean playground, much like it was before Fidel. The temptation of consumerism and commercial wealth is great. But one thing we can see from looking at the real Cuba, is that in many ways, culture, personal development, social values and pride are a lot more valuable.