Cuba After the Castro Brothers: Raúl Castro is Expected to Retire on Friday
Updated: Apr 24
Raúl Castro, late Fidel's younger brother is expected to retire this Friday as secretary-general of Cuba's Communist Party. Castro has already confirmed his resignation, a merely symbolic act since President Miguel Díaz-Canel is guiding all the important affairs since 2018.
However, the formal resignation is representing the end of the Castro brothers' leadership after over six decades -- the first time since the 1959 revolution. It remains unknown who is going to succeed Raúl Castro as the first secretary of the ruling Communist Party.
The first and obvious choice in this, still one-party state, would be the 60-year-old President Díaz-Canel, as a familiar face in times of uncertainty.
For decades the main goal of the U.S. was for the Fidel brothers to step down -- pressuring them with sanctions, supporting and collaborating with dissidents and independent groups like Cambio Cubano, and the Catholic Church.
None of the measures, however, led by the U.S. foreign policy, achieved the goal of a peaceful transfer of power to Cuba and opening up to external influences.
Fidel Castro led a revolution to overthrow dictator Fulgencio Batista and become the leader of the Communist Party in 1965. He has since led Cuba, as the undisputed leader, until 2008 when he left the presidency to his brother Raúl due to illness.
While most Latin American states experienced dictatorship and authoritarianism at one point, Cuba has fallen under the rule of a dictator and ideologically driven totalitarianism at the same time. But Fidel, as a revolutionary ruler with the mission to fight imperialism, had almost undivided support from the masses.
In the 90s, the communist utopia had already faded, leaving room for dissatisfaction triggered by the rising economic and political crisis. The disintegration of the Eastern bloc countries was like a domino effect, and Fidel was no longer that 32-year-old charismatic rebel who eliminated Cuba's bourgeoisie.
Impaired health, constantly under attack by the foreign powers, Fidel was forced to carry out certain reforms in order to stabilize the economy and preserve the regime. By the time his brother Raúl took over the leadership, the government repression escalated, provoking the rage of the U.S.
The arrival of the 21st century in Cuba has so far not proved benevolent. Lack of foreign investments, the rise of oil prices, and the latest Trump administration sanctions, hand-in-hand with the COVID-19 pandemic have brought back the reduction in food supplies and recession, with a significant reduction in tourism revenues.
In 2021, the focus of the new-old leadership could be on reforms that will encourage foreign investment, at the same time empowering the domicile population through private enterprise, which has long been banned and restricted.
Since the United States conditioned the sanctions removal with disappearing the Castro family members from the political scene, it is going to be interesting to observe where the successors are going to direct the country. Even a Castro will no longer be running the affairs on the surface, their influence is going to be present for a very long time.
“I believe fervently in the strength and exemplary nature and comprehension of my compatriots, and as long as I live I will be ready with my foot in the stirrups to defend the fatherland, the revolution and socialism,” said 89-year-old Raúl Castro, announcing his retirement on the eighth congress of the Communist Party.