End of the Castro era in Cuba

The Cuban parliament has elected the former Vice-President Miguel Díaz-Canel to take over from 86-year-old President Raúl Castro, who stepped down on Thursday. In 2006 he took over government duties from his ailing brother Fidel Castro, who died in 2016. What opportunities will the new leadership bring?

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Pravda (SK) /

Cuba needs continuity

Turning its back completely on the Castro era would be catastrophic for the Cubans, writes the left-wing daily Pravda:

“The new president Miguel Díaz-Canel has stressed that continuity is key for the country and that there is no need for any breaks with the past. Erasing the last remnants of socialism would plunge the country into complete misery. The rigid Soviet-type system has been changing since the mid-1990s. Those who don't see this are making a mistake. Díaz-Canel is part of this development. He is among those who want to preserve socialist principles in key areas like healthcare and education and give personal freedoms priority in other areas. A radical turnaround would end in disaster.”

Público (PT) /

Democratisation is possible

Raúl Castro's departure opens up new prospects for Cuba writes Francisco André, National Secretary for International Relations of the Portuguese Socialist Party, in Público:

“Even if the changeover hasn't happened in the context of a multi-party democracy, it has a positive dimension and opens up new prospects for Cuba's economic and social development, and could perhaps also pave the way for a reform of the political system. ... The final phase of this renewal, which culminated in Raúl Castro's resignation, should be seen not just as an opportunity for Cuba's social, economic and political development but also for the creation of a democratic order that is based on the rule of law and freedoms for the citizens.”

Die Presse (AT) /

The Cuban T. rex

The final hour has struck for Cuban communism, Die Presse believes:

“Only a minority of Cubans benefit from the new economic freedom. ... The rest, disillusioned and occupied with organising their daily lives, eke out a meagre living. The result is a flagrantly two-class society in which academics are forced to work as taxi drivers, tour guides or pimps while adventurers and gold-diggers prostitute themselves in any number of ways. It's the cynical end phase of a tropical socialism in which palm trees gloss over the misery. And at some stage it will all come tumbling down. Cuban-style communism has long been bankrupt and is now trying like a dinosaur to survive for as long as it can. Seen from this perspective Raúl Castro is the last of his kind, a Tyrannosaurus rex.”

De Volkskrant (NL) /

State leadership fears new freedom

The political course of the leadership in Cuba is full of contradictions, Latin America correspondent Marjolein van de Water writes in De Volkskrant:

“The Cuban leadership is seeking a new balance. On the one hand the economy needs the island to be opened up to the markets. On the other hand the party leaders are mortally afraid of the emancipation this will bring. ... A more independent nation will be more autonomous and difficult to control. So the old party fossils keep hitting the brakes when things start moving too fast. ... Despite all the reforms Cuba remains a totalitarian state subject to suffocating social control. ... The new president faces the task of continuing the reforms, with Raúl's piercing eyes watching him closely for now.”