The Dallas Morning News
Raul Castro resignation ends era
Raul, brother Fidel led nation for 6 decades; island’s economy ailing
Raul Castro said he was resigning as head of Cuba’s Communist Party, ending an era of leadership by him and his brother Fidel Castro.
HAVANA — Raul Castro said Friday that he was resigning as head of Cuba’s Communist Party, ending an era of formal leadership by him and his brother Fidel Castro that began with the 1959 revolution.
The 89-year-old Castro made the announcement Friday in a speech at the opening of the eighth congress of the ruling party, the only party 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.”
Castro didn’t say whom he would endorse as his successor as first secretary of the party. He previously indicated that he favored 60-year-old Miguel Diaz-canel, 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. The change comes at a difficult time, with many
on the island anxious about what lies ahead.
The coronavirus pandemic, painful financial reforms and restrictions imposed by the Trump administration have battered the economy, which shrank 11% last year as a result of a collapse in tourism and remittances. Long food lines and shortages have brought echoes of the “special period” that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s.
Discontent has been fueled by the spread of the internet and growing inequality.
Much debate inside Cuba is focused on the pace of reform, with many complaining that the “historic generation” represented by Castro has been too slow to open the economy.
In January, Diaz-canel finally pulled the trigger on a plan approved two congresses ago to unify the island’s dual currency system, giving rise to fears of inflation. He also threw the doors open to a broader range of private enterprise — a category long banned or tightly restricted — permitting many self-run businesses operated
from Cubans’ homes.
The Communist Party is made up of 700,000 activists and is tasked in Cuba’s constitution with directing the affairs of the nation and society.
Fidel Castro, who led the revolution that drove dictator Fulgencio Batista from power in 1959, formally became head of the party in 1965.
He handed over the presidency to his younger brother Raul in 2008.
Raul succeeded him as head of the party in 2011. Fidel Castro died in 2016