Cuba marks Fidel’s death anniversary as post-Castro era nears
hesitantly as before. Cuba’s relationship with the United States, meanwhile, has actually worsened due to President Donald Trump’s more hostile stance.
More significant politically, analysts say, will be the electoral cycle that starts Sunday with a municipal vote and will end with the selection of a new president in late February. Raul, 86, has said he would step down at the end of his two consecutive terms.
The transition is expected to be gradual as Raul will remain head of the Communist Party. It comes, however, as the country faces a tricky time with a decline in aid from ally Venezuela, weaker exports and a resulting cash crunch.
“Not even we know what our future will be,” said Ariadna Valdivia, 45, a high school teacher. “Raul is ending his term in 2018, Fidel is already history, and I don’t really see any way of improving things.” His death last year plunged Cuba into nine days of na- the feelings of many Cubans who miss Fidel’s leadership, especially at times of crisis. Raul did not appear in public after Hurricane Irma thrashed the island in September.
In keeping with his wishes to avoid a personality cult, no statues have been made of Fidel or public places named after him in Cuba. Even his tomb is a sober affair, a large granite boulder in Santiago de Cuba’s Santa Ifigenia Cemetery with a plaque simply reading “Fidel.”
Galas and vigils in honor of Fidel will be held around the country this week, according to state-run media. Cultural institutions like the national ballet are dedicating their shows to his memory, and state television is running archived footage on a loop.
The municipal vote on Sunday, the only part of the electoral process with direct participation by ordinary Cubans, is being cast in state media as a show of support for his ideas. Posters of Fidel hung at assemblies where neighborhoods nominated candidates over the last two months.
It will be followed by provincial and national assembly elections in which candidates are selected from slates by commissions. The new National Assembly will then in late February select a successor to Castro, widely expected to be First Vice President Miguel DiazCanel.
Eduardo Torres, the director of Cuba’s National Library, said there were several politicians well placed to become president but there would never be another Fidel and the country faced a generational transition.
“Raul had the weight of the historic generation,” said Torres. “When he leaves, it is another generation and another history we will start to build.”