Raúl Castro, 89, announced on Friday (16) that he was stepping down from command of the Communist Party of Cuba (CCP), ending a period of more than six decades in which he and his older brother, Fidel Castro ( 1926-2016), were at the head of the country.
The decision, which was already expected, was announced immediately in the opening speech of the party’s congress, which is expected to last four days in Havana, amid protests from groups calling for changes in the Cuban regime.
In his speech, Raúl said the new leaders are figures loyal to the Communist Party “full of passion and anti-imperialist spirit”, with decades of experience and work to climb the institutional ladder.
At the last congress, in 2016 – the meeting takes place every five years – Raúl had declared that it would be the last one led by the “historical generation” that fought in the Sierra Maestra, in reference to the Cuban Revolution (1959).
His successor, already announced, will be Miguel Díaz-Canel, 60, who currently heads the regime as president. In the complex Cuban political system, two structures coexist: that of the state and that of the party. In 2018, Raúl gave Díaz-Canel official command of the country, but kept the direction of the acronym in his hands – until Friday.