Cuba swears in Miguel Diaz-Canel to replace Castro as president

Posted April 20, 2018

Miguel Diaz-Canel was officially named as the new leader of Cuba on Thursday, one day after a vote in the country's National Assembly.

The U.S. -Cuba detente, under former U.S. President Barack Obama in 2014, was one of the highlights of Castro's presidency and part of his broader opening of the island in order to preserve Cuban socialism beyond his "historic generation".

86-year-old Raul Castro, along with his older brother Fidel, spearheaded the 1959 revolution, which toppled the pro-US government and established a socialist state.

Raul Castro, the previous president of Cuba, assumed his post in 2008 after a transitional period that lasted for two years.

Maduro also reaffirmed that Cuba and its new President Diaz-Canel would have the unquestioned support of Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela as they "face together the challenges and battles for social justice and human development in this convulsion world, in the months and years to come".

The Candidacy Commission also nominated another six vice leaders of the Council of State, Cuba's highest government body. Diaz-Canel and Castro embraced, and Castro left the stage.

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The succession took place on 50th anniversary of the USA -led Bay of Pigs invasion.

Castro will remain the head of the ruling Communist Party until 2021 and is expected to continue to play an important role in policy decisions. He sharply criticized US foreign, trade and immigration policy under President Donald Trump.

As Castro got up from the seat he has occupied for the past 12 years, it was immediately taken by Diaz-Canel, a man almost 30 years his junior who has spent years climbing the party ranks. Every major newspaper and magazine is run by the party.

One of the fiercest congressional critics of Cuba's government says the island's new president is a "thug" who is just the "same as the old boss".

Cubans hope the next government can breathe life into the Soviet-style centrally planned economy, which has failed to improve much under Castro's limited market reforms.

Born to a family of factory workers on April 20, 1960 - just over a year after the revolution and the swearing in of Fidel Castro as the President - Diaz-Canel studied electrical engineering and began his political career in his early twenties as a member of the Young Communist League in the Cuban city of Santa Clara.

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