Purely libre: what will change after Castro leaves the post of leader of the ruling party

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Cuba will continue close cooperation with the Russian Federation and China, despite the change in the party leadership, political analysts polled by Izvestia say.… From April 16 to April 19, the island will host the historic (VIII) Congress of the Communist Party, which will end the era of the fathers of the Cuban revolution. The post of the first secretary of the Central Committee from 89-year-old Raul Castro will pass to the current president of the country, Miguel Diaz-Canel… Experts are confident that the new leader of the party will adhere to the strategy of succession, although he will try to carry out economic reforms in the country. But tangible shifts in Cuba’s foreign policy should not be expected. Havana will continue to maintain close ties with its strategic partners and is unlikely to mend relations with the United States.

“Day and night”

The 8th Congress of the Communist Party (CPC) will be held in Cuba from April 16 to April 19. Raul Castro will leave the post of first secretary, ending the 60-year history of his dynasty’s rule. Raul is the second key figure for Liberty Island after his older brother Fidel. They started the fight against the dictatorship of the pro-American Fulgencio Batista together, thanks to which in 1959 the revolutionaries achieved a regime change and the victory of the communists. The eldest of Castro took over the country in the same year and remained in power until 2008. For health reasons, he had to transfer powers to his brother, who was elected first secretary of the CPC Central Committee in 2011 at the age of 79. This year, the politician decided to entrust Castro’s brainchild to the current president of the country, Miguel Diaz-Canel.

This CCP Congress is Historicas it will put an end to the long-term reign of “the last of Castro”. Although Raoul will continue to play the role of a senior statesman in the party, and will undoubtedly be consulted, power will nevertheless be transferred to a new generation born after the revolution.– John Kirk, professor of the Department of Latin America at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, said in an interview with Izvestia.

The figure of Miguel Diaz-Canel, who is designed to break the system, experts assess as quite a party politician who managed to pass the test of the communists, although he led the country to cautious liberal reforms… In 2018, he became chairman of the State Council and the Council of Ministers. In July of the same year, Cuba adopted a New Constitution, which now recognizes private property and a free market on the island. In 2019, he became president of the country, and it was on his shoulders that the pressure emanating from the United States fell during the reign of Donald Trump. A series of sanctions and export restrictions forced the Cuban leader to personally take control of the situation and modernize the country. From his officials, he received the nickname Día y Noche (Spanish for “day and night”), since Miguel Diaz-Canela could come and check the department at any time.

– For decades, the Cuban Communist Party has tried to find a representative of a new generation who will continue the course of continuity, making the necessary changes and responses to the needs of a society attacked by imperialism. There is a line of trust between Raul Castro and Diaz-Canel, ”Spanish political scientist Jose Antonio Egido told Izvestia.

Trying is not torture

One of the main “liberal” measures to improve the lives of citizens under Miguel Diaz-Canela was the monetary reform… It was launched on January 1, 2021 and was intended to end the parallel circulation of two official currencies (the Cuban peso CUP and the Cuban convertible peso CUC), as well as to peg the local currency to a single exchange rate. The government expects this reform to make the island more attractive to foreign investors in the future. So it is with Miguel Diaz-Canel that many associate their hope for the modernization of the country.… Nevertheless, as Jorge Duani, director of the Institute for Cuban Studies at the Florida International University, noted in a conversation with Izvestia, it remains to be seen whether the reshuffle in the party leadership will lead to real political and economic reforms in Cuba.

The burning question for the ruling elite is how to counter the island’s worst economic recession since the early 1990s… The Cuban economy officially contracted by about 11% last year, the political scientist stressed. – This was a consequence of the pandemic, the collapse of the island’s tourism industry and the lingering effects of economic sanctions imposed by the Trump administration. And it will be extremely difficult for the island to free itself from this crisis under any government.

As for Havana’s relations with Washington, despite the renewal of the elite in both states, experts do not expect any shifts.… The new head of the White House, Joe Biden, planned to build bridges of friendship with Latin American countries, as was the case under Barack Obama. Nevertheless, according to political scientists, his friendly statements were more of a political move.

The loud words about rapprochement can only be explained by the need to enlist the support of the influential Cuban-American population of Florida… Before the election, Biden made it clear that he opposed the Trump administration’s approach to its relationship with Cuba, but did nothing in terms of reforming this erroneous policy. The Cuban embargo remains in force, and the Americans are still denied the right to travel to Cuba, ”said political analyst John Kirk.

According to the Valdai Club expert and co-chairman of the Asia and America Department of the Latin American Studies Association (LASA) Andres Serbin, in the short term, relations between Cuba and the United States will be very difficult to normalize. In an interview with Izvestia, the expert did not rule out that the Biden administration could agree to lift some of the sanctions, nevertheless the level of relations under Obama, in his opinion, will be impossible to achieve

Faithful comrades

With regard to the Russian Federation and other strategic partners of China and Venezuela, according to experts, one should not expect surprises from Havana. Despite the pragmatism of the new party leader and the end of the Castro era, this will not affect the previously built foreign policy relations.

– The upcoming renewal in the leadership of the Cuban Communist Party, most likely, will not lead to significant changes in the island’s foreign policy. Miguel Diaz-Canel and other high-ranking Cuban officials are expressing interest in expanding trade, tourism and investment from Russia, political analyst Jorge Duani told Izvestia.

According to him, to stay in power, the Cuban government will have to maintain and develop bilateral relations with many partners around the world, but especially with countries such as Russia, China, Iran and Venezuela

As John Kirk emphasized in a conversation with Izvestia, Cuba’s friendly relations with the Russian Federation have been going on for about 60 years, and party perturbations cannot influence them.

“Considering that US opposition to Cuba continues (in February, Biden extended sanctions against the island. – Izvestia), Moscow and Havana only have an opportunity to strengthen bilateral ties, especially in light of the difficult socio-economic conditions on the island,” stressed expert.

In early April of this year, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov met with Miguel Diaz-Canel in Havana, during the talks they called the relations between the two countries excellent… Deputy Prime Minister of Cuba Ricardo Cabrisas said that cooperation between Havana and Moscow will reduce the impact of Washington’s sanctions against both states.