This week, Miguel Díaz-Canel was elected by Cuba’s National Assembly as President of Cuba, becoming the first non-Castro to lead the country in almost six decades.
Díaz-Canel was widely expected to become the country’s next president and his victory represents, among several factors, his years of loyal service to the Castroregime. His commitment to the Party and his track record both suggest that the new President will pursue an agenda of continuity that is aligned with the policies of his predecessors. Moreover, Raul Castro will remain head of the Armed Forces and the Communist Party, two of the country’s most powerful institutions.
Since Raul assumed power in 2006, Cuba has undertaken series of modest economic reforms and—as a result of President Obama’s policies—improved diplomatic relations with the United States. Although President Trump has rolled back some of those policies, the regime also faces a series of economic challenges.
The new president will also need to maintain the support of his conservative party members, many of which are still part of the revolutionary generation that rose to power with the Castros, while also addressing the demands of Cuba’s younger generations. Whether or not Diaz-Canel represents an opportunity to break from the old regime remains to be seen. For now though, don’t expect an entirely new direction.