Apr 19, 2021 - World

Castro era officially ends in Cuba

Diaz-Canel (L) with Raul Castro in 2018. Photo: Ernesto Mastrascusa/Getty Images

The Castro era ended in Cuba on Monday after six decades, with Raúl Castro handing over the reigns of a party founded in 1965 by his brother Fidel.

Why it matters: Miguel Díaz-Canel, 60, now assumes the challenge of maintaining Communist rule while grappling with growing discontent over Cuba's economic stagnation.

Driving the news: Born after the revolution, Díaz-Canel contrasted with his predecessor at Monday's party conference, wearing a suit rather than military fatigues.

  • Díaz-Canel has emphasized continuity since becoming president in 2019, and he signaled today that he'd do the same as party chief.
  • But he has already overseen an increase in internet access on the island and made it easier to start a business. More economic reforms along those lines could be forthcoming.
  • One key question is how closely President Biden will engage. There's little indication that outreach to Cuba will be a priority for the new administration as it was in former President Obama's second term.

What to watch: Cuba is facing an uptick in COVID-19 cases, but it hopes to soon be able to fight the outbreak with a homegrown vaccine.

  • That would be a major point of pride for Cuba, which has long overachieved in the medical field for an island of its size and relative poverty.
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