Richmond Times-Dispatch Weekend

Raul Castro confirms resignatio­n, ending long era in Cuba

- BY ANDREA RODRÍGUEZ

HAVANA — Raul Castro said Friday he is resigning as head of Cuba’s Communist Party, ending an era of formal leadership that began with his brother Fidel and the country’s 1959 revolution.

The 89-year-old Castro made the announceme­nt n a speech at the opening of the eighth congress of the ruling party, the only one allowed on the island.

He said he was retiring with the sense of having “fulfilled his mission and confident in the future of the fatherland.”

“Nothing, nothing, nothing is forcing me to make this decision,” said Castro, part of whose speech to the closed Congress was aired on state television. “As long as I live I will be ready with my foot in the stirrup to defend the homeland, the revolution and socialism with more force than ever.”

Castro didn’t say who he would endorse as his successor as first secretary of the Communist Party. But he previously indicated he favors yielding control to 60-year-old Miguel DiazCanel, who succeeded him as president in 2018 and is the standard bearer of a younger generation of loyalists who have been pushing an economic opening without touching Cuba’s one-party system.

Castro’s retirement means that for the first time in more than six decades Cubans won’t have a Castro formally guiding their affairs, and it comes at a difficult time, with many on the island anxious about what lies ahead.

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