What is Cuba's future without a Castro?

Transition of Power in Cuba

Transition of Power in Cuba

His handpicked successor, Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, 57, is a Communist Party loyalist who was born a year after Fidel Castro claimed power in Cuba.

A big day in Cuba's history as Raul Castro ends his 10-years in power and the closing the 60-year Castro reign in Cuba; Steve Harrigan has the latest updates from Havana, Cuba. A new President has been agreed upon - 57-year-old Miguel Diaz Canel, a man without revolutionary credentials.

In a video of a Communist Party meeting that inexplicably leaked to the public a year ago, Diaz-Canel expressed a series of orthodox positions that included somberly pledging to shutter some independent media and labeling some European embassies as outposts of foreign subversion.

Cuba's national assembly will begin deliberations today to select a successor to President Raúl Castro, whose family has ruled Cuba since 1959.

"I like sticking with the ideas of President Fidel Castro because he did a lot for the people of Cuba, but we need rejuvenation, above all in the economy", said Melissa Mederos, a 21-year-old schoolteacher. He is expected to remain at the head of the Communist Party.

James Williams, the president of Engage Cuba, a group that advocates for greater trade and engagement with the island, said that Diaz-Canel should be given a chance. Castro is leaving after serving two five-year terms.

As in Cuba's legislative elections, all of the leaders being voted in on Wednesday are selected by a government-appointed commission.

He will formally be confirmed as the country's leader at roughly 9:00 am (1300 GMT) Thursday-the anniversary of the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion, when Fidel Castro's forces defeated 1,400 US-backed rebels seeking to overthrow him.

Fidel Castro died in November 2016 at the age of 90.

The new president will be the first person outside the Castro family to lead the island since in almost six decades. The day also marks the 57th anniversary of the victory of Cuba over the invasion of a counterrevolutionary, USA brigade in Playa Girón.

"He's got more to gain than to lose be being [visible] out there", Williams said.

Cuba's economy remains smaller than it was in 1985, when it had the support of Communist ally, the Soviet Union, according to one study.

Diaz-Canel should "increase the speed of change in Cuba while preserving the good things", said blogger Harold Cardenas, 32, adding that resistance from within the party to Castro's economic reforms had held the country back.

State-run media and government-controlled Twitter accounts are promoting what is expected to be a historic handover of the presidency to the first non-Castro to lead the country in almost 60 years.

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