BREAKING NEWS Death investigation at Olmsted County intersection Full Story
STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Cuba's National Assembly nominates Miguel Diaz-Canel to succeed Raul Castro as president

For the first time in the lives of most Cubans, a man not named Castro is set to take over the leadership of...

Posted: Apr 19, 2018 11:53 AM
Updated: Apr 19, 2018 11:54 AM

For the first time in the lives of most Cubans, a man not named Castro is set to take over the leadership of the Communist-run island nation.

Cuba's National Assembly has nominated Cuban First Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel to be the unopposed candidate to replace Raul Castro as the head of the Cuban government.

Castro embraced Diaz-Canel -- who wasn't even born when Fidel Castro led his revolution in 1959 -- during the session Wednesday, all but sealing his status as the island's next president.

Fidel Castro had long said he expected to die while still in office, but after a mystery illness and botched intestinal surgery in 2008, he was forced to step down. He died in 2016.

His younger brother Raul Castro replaced him as head of state, the Cuban Communist Party and the island's military, promising to make their revolution "prosperous and sustainable."

Now Raul Castro, 86, is leaving office, apparently convinced that the best way to ensure the survival of his and his brother's revolution is to begin a transition he can help oversee.

Heirs apparent?

For years, many Cubans speculated that Raul Castro's daughter Mariela -- a member of the National Assembly and advocate for gay and transgender rights -- or his son, Alejandro -- a colonel in Cuban counterintelligence who represented the island in secret talks with the United States -- would be the next Castros to take power.

Fidel Castro's son commits suicide

Instead, Cuba's first vice president is the apparent successor to Raul Castro: the 57-year-old technocrat D-az-Canel, who has promised to hew closely to the course set by the Castro brothers.

"I believe in continuity," D-az-Canel told reporters recently when asked about his vision for Cuba's future. "I think there always will be continuity."

"Continuity" most likely means continued restrictions on the private sector for Cubans, tight controls on foreign investment and no openings to the single-party political system.

Before becoming the heir apparent to Raul Castro, when D-az-Canel was still climbing his way up the ranks of the Communist Party hierarchy in the island's provinces, he earned a nickname that stuck with him: "D-a y Noche" or Day and Night.

The moniker came from low-level government employees who found out the hard way that at any hour Diaz-Canel could show up unannounced to inspect whether workers were actually on the job and not pilfering supplies or taking a nap.

That fastidiousness and willingness to work around the clock may be key assets when Diaz-Canel becomes the next president of the Communist-run island after Raul Castro steps down.

Will a new leader make a difference?

Few people expect much to change in the only Communist-run country in the Western Hemisphere, at least not right away.

"Cuba will keep being Cuba, no one can change it," Eli-n Gonz-lez, the boy found on an inner tube off the Florida coast in 1993, told CNN. Gonz-lez, then 5 years old, was placed with relatives in Miami but returned to Cuba with his father following a court battle. He was seen frequently with Fidel Castro, whom he described as being like a father to him.

Now Gonz-lez, 24, has emerged as one of the most effective advocates for the revolution and many Cubans believe he will one day have a leadership role.

"Cuba won't change if another administration comes, if another president comes," he said.

Cuban leaders say they are "perfecting" their revolution while resisting external pressures to open the economy and political system.

Castro will remain a powerful figure

Even though Raul Castro, according to Cuban government officials, plans to move to Santiago de Cuba, the city where his brother Fidel was buried, he is still expected to exercise a large measure of control over the Cuban government and have the final say on important decisions.

Castro will remain first secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba, a member of the National Assembly and, even if he is no longer president, the most powerful public figure on the island.

This week marks the anniversary of the Cuban government victory over CIA-trained Cuban exile forces at the Bay of Pigs, a highly symbolic moment for Castro to step down and for his replacement to be chosen in a secret vote by the National Assembly.

Stacked with members of the Cuban Communist Party, the only political party allowed on the island, and fervent supporters of the revolution, the National Assembly nearly always votes unanimously for the proposals made by the top Cuban leadership.

Despite their efforts to join the National Assembly, government opponents have either lost or not been allowed by the government on the ballot in municipal elections.

A revolutionary leader

Even as Cuba's economy struggles and officials tweak the island's economic model with little apparent success, there is no transformational leader waiting in the wings.

"You see it on signs everywhere here, 'Fidel is Cuba,'" said Vicki Huddleston, the former head of the US diplomatic mission in Havana. "You won't be seeing signs that say 'Raul is Cuba.' He was a placeholder. The next head of Cuba will be a placeholder. There is no charismatic leader like Fidel was."

For opponents of the Cuban revolution who expected support for the government to crumble when Fidel Castro died, a peaceful transfer of power could indicate they have even longer to wait for change to occur.

Supporters of the Cuban government said their revolution will survive the departure of the Castros.

"Many people say 'when the Castros' mandate ends' but I don't believe the ideology will end; not what they have taught us, nor the ideas of the Castros," Eli-n Gonz-lez told CNN. "Cuba is more than its government."

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 604608

Reported Deaths: 7642
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1249941780
Ramsey52516897
Dakota46848471
Anoka42782458
Washington27433291
Stearns22559225
St. Louis18142313
Scott17552137
Wright16382149
Olmsted13401102
Sherburne1202495
Carver1067548
Clay826492
Rice8203110
Blue Earth762644
Crow Wing681795
Kandiyohi668185
Chisago620052
Otter Tail586284
Benton582998
Goodhue483974
Douglas475681
Mower470533
Winona461351
Itasca459963
Isanti440164
McLeod430861
Morrison424862
Beltrami407862
Nobles407550
Steele397816
Polk389072
Becker386755
Lyon363853
Carlton353056
Freeborn347133
Pine334923
Nicollet331345
Mille Lacs311854
Brown307940
Le Sueur297326
Cass286232
Todd285633
Meeker263443
Waseca238023
Martin235333
Roseau211221
Wabasha20793
Hubbard196641
Dodge18793
Renville182846
Redwood176539
Houston174616
Cottonwood167124
Wadena163423
Fillmore157610
Faribault154819
Chippewa154038
Pennington153820
Kanabec146828
Sibley146810
Aitkin138937
Watonwan13579
Rock128719
Jackson122812
Pipestone116726
Yellow Medicine115020
Pope11306
Murray107110
Swift106918
Koochiching95418
Stevens92411
Clearwater89016
Marshall88817
Lake83220
Wilkin83213
Lac qui Parle75622
Big Stone6044
Grant5948
Lincoln5853
Mahnomen5669
Norman5479
Kittson49022
Unassigned48293
Red Lake4017
Traverse3775
Lake of the Woods3453
Cook1720

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 371146

Reported Deaths: 6053
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk58273640
Linn21228339
Scott20310248
Black Hawk16167312
Woodbury15241230
Johnson1462385
Dubuque13512211
Dallas1128999
Pottawattamie11229174
Story1071648
Warren584091
Clinton561593
Cerro Gordo554095
Sioux517674
Webster516094
Muscatine4884106
Marshall486876
Des Moines467572
Wapello4338122
Buena Vista426940
Jasper421172
Plymouth403181
Lee382356
Marion366076
Jones301057
Henry294537
Bremer288661
Carroll287152
Boone268634
Crawford268140
Benton259955
Washington257351
Dickinson249344
Mahaska232751
Jackson225242
Clay216727
Kossuth216166
Tama212071
Delaware211143
Winneshiek198835
Page194522
Buchanan194133
Cedar192323
Hardin187544
Fayette186743
Wright186040
Hamilton181951
Harrison180073
Clayton171157
Butler166335
Madison164619
Mills163724
Floyd163442
Cherokee159338
Lyon158841
Poweshiek157136
Allamakee152852
Hancock150334
Iowa149824
Winnebago144531
Cass139255
Calhoun138913
Grundy137333
Emmet135841
Jefferson133535
Shelby131737
Sac130920
Union130035
Louisa129749
Appanoose129049
Mitchell126643
Chickasaw124917
Franklin123523
Guthrie123332
Humboldt119626
Palo Alto113623
Howard105022
Montgomery103638
Clarke100924
Keokuk96832
Monroe96431
Unassigned9530
Ida91535
Adair87332
Pocahontas85822
Davis85225
Monona83131
Osceola78916
Greene78011
Lucas77923
Worth7618
Taylor66812
Fremont6269
Decatur6169
Ringgold56424
Van Buren56318
Wayne54423
Audubon53311
Adams3444
Rochester
Clear
65° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 65°
Mason City
Partly Cloudy
65° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 65°
Albert Lea
Partly Cloudy
66° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 66°
Austin
Partly Cloudy
64° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 64°
Charles City
Partly Cloudy
66° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 66°
Storm chances increasing for Thursday and Friday
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Community Events