Raul Castro hands baton to Miguel for Revolution 2.O

20 April, 2018, 01:31 | Author: Genevieve Gibbs
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Diaz-Canal became an electronics engineer at the Central University of Las Villas.

He has given a strident speech that also emphasised the need to modernise the island's economy.

Cuban President Raul Castro (L) and First Vice-President Miguel Diaz-Canel (C) arrive for a National Assembly session that named the latter as the candidate to succeed Castro as president, in Havana, April 18, 2018.

He is the island's first leader born after the revolution, and will be 58 on Friday.

Miguel Diaz-Canel in Havana on February 1, 2018. Diaz-Canel and Castro embraced, and Castro left the stage.

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The 57-year-old president says the country's leadership can not forget "for a second" its commitment to the people of Cuba.

It was a historic, though understated, handover.

"Here there are no spaces for a transition that does not recognize the legacy of so many years of struggle", said Diaz-Canel in a clear message that he will not get out of line with the one-party system in Cuba. Fidel Castro died in 2016 at age 90. "'There is no room for those who aspire to a capitalist restoration", he said.

"They set the guidelines for the country and Raul Castro is going to remain as head of that old powerful communist party".

Mr Diaz-Canel, a stalwart of the ruling Communist party for more than 30 years, was sworn in by the National Assembly to replace Raul Castro, with the 57-year-old gaining votes from 603 of the 604 lawmakers present. "Cuba needs him, providing ideas and proposals for the revolutionary cause, orienting and alerting us about any error or deficiency, teaching us, and always ready to confront imperialism".

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The silver-haired Diaz-Canel - a top Communist Party figure who has served as first vice president since 2013 - assumes power from Raul Castro, who himself took over from his elder brother Fidel, father of the 1959 revolution.

Raul Castro also commented on the halting thaw between Cuba and the United States, saying that Donald Trump's election victory set bilateral ties back again.

But a landmark moment was the agreement with former US President Barack Obama to restore long-severed diplomatic ties and seek an end to decades of hostilities between the two countries.

Castro also gave a vision for Diaz-Canel's future, saying he believed Diaz-Canel would serve two five-year terms as president.

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

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"He comes from the system, but it is the rigidity of the system which is the biggest obstacle to pushing forward with the necessary political and economic changes", said Michael Shifter, head of Inter-American Dialogue, a Washington-based think tank.

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