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Cuba after the Castros

  • 19 April, 2021

  • 5 Min Read

Cuba after the Castros


  • The retirement of Raul Castro as the first secretary of Cuba’s ruling Communist Party brings to an end the six-decade-long rule of the “historic generation”, who, under the leadership of Fidel Castro, captured power in 1959 through an armed revolution.


  • Fidel remained at the helm of affairs in the island, in the face of growing hostility from the U.S. until he fell sick in 2006.
  • In 2008 later, he handed the party to his younger brother, Raul Castro, who had fought alongside him in the guerrilla war against the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista in the 1950s.
  • He had also overseen rapid improvement in relations with the U.S., when Barack Obama eased some restrictions on the Cuban economy, travelled to Havana and opened an American Embassy.
  • In 2018, Mr. Raul stepped down as President, handing government responsibilities to his hand-picked next generation leader, Miguel Díaz-Canel.
  • Mr. Díaz-Canel, 60, is expected to succeed him as the new party chief.

Socialist economy of Cuba

  • The Castros built a closed, socialist economy that worked for many for decades.
  • Cuba’s achievements in the fields of education and health care are inimitable.
  • But the transition comes at a painful time. When Soviet assistance ceased in the early 1990s, Fidel asked Cubans to tighten their belts for a “special period”.
  • Eventually, Cuba came out of those hardships, and the pink tide in Latin America that propelled leftist leaders to power, from Venezuela to Ecuador, helped Havana both politically and economically.

Present Conditions in Cuba

  • But now, the pink tide is in reverse.
  • Venezuela, which offered cheap oil to Cuba, is itself in an economic and political mess.
  • The Obama-era concessions were unmade by Mr. Trump.
  • The coronavirus pandemic practically shut down Cuba’s vital tourism sector, causing an 11% economic contraction last year.
  • The crisis has triggered food shortages, bringing back memories of the early 1990s.
  • There are also calls for more political freedoms.
  • Unlike in the past when the flow of information was controlled, the expansion of the Internet and social networks is allowing critics of the government, including U.S.-based dissidents, to amplify their voices.


  • Mr. Raul’s successor cannot stay away from addressing these challenges as the revolution ages.


Source: TH


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