Cuba’s line of presidential succession changed today with the naming of Miguel Diaz-Canel, 52, as First Vice President of the Council of State.
He replaces Jose Ramon Machado Ventura, 82. In his speech in the National Assembly today, Raul Castro said that Machado Ventura suggested that he relinquish his post “in favor of the promotion of the new generation.”
This is the first time that a next-generation figure has been in the top level of Cuba’s leadership since the departure of Carlos Lage in 2009, and the first time that a next-generation figure has occupied the post of first vice president, which is first in line of succession.
Diaz-Canel, trained as an engineer at the University of Villa Clara, has been increasingly visible in recent years, most recently attending the CELAC summit in Chile with Raul Castro and representing Cuba at the Caracas ceremony last month that marked the beginning of Hugo Chavez’ new term in office.
Raul Castro confirmed that this will be his last term, and he called for constitutional reform that will set a two-term limit and a maximum age for the government’s top posts.
The main task of Raul Castro’s presidency has been to fix an economy that, in his view, would put Cuba’s socialist project at risk if it were not fixed.
He has been promoting next-generation figures in a number of posts, and he has admitted that this process has gone too slowly. With today’s move he has put in Cubans’ sight the day when the government will be led not by a figure who fought in the 1959 revolution, but by one who grew up in it.
Step by step, this old soldier has been preparing for the day when he will leave his post, and he has now picked the one who will relieve him.
AP story here.
AP story here.