KIn his last major speech as the head of the Unity Communist Party, former president of Opa Raul Castro called for a “respectful dialogue” with the United States. Castro told hundreds of party delegates in Havana on Friday that Cuba was also ready to build a “new kind of relationship” with Washington. On the other hand, Castro stressed that Cuba would not “abandon the principles of revolution and socialism.”
In his speech at the party conference, the 89-year-old also confirmed his withdrawal from the position of First Secretary of the Cuban Communist Party. Castro said he finished his job “with the satisfaction of doing my job and with confidence in the future of our country.”
The Castro brothers have shaped the country for decades
The president’s brother and revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, who died in 2016, had announced earlier that he would leave his post at the four-day party congress. President Miguel Diaz-Canel, 60, is set to be elected as the new leader of the party on Monday. This marked the end of the Castro era in Cuba.
The Castro brothers have been at the helm of the Caribbean state for more than six decades. Ral Castro’s older brother, Fidel, still revered as a Maximo player in Cuba, was in charge of the government from 1959 to 2006.
When the revolutionary leader fell ill, Raul Castro took over the administration of government affairs in 2006 and was formally elected head of state in 2008. In 2018 he handed over the presidency to Diaz-Canel. Now the 89-year-old is resigning from the party’s highest position.
Diaz-Canel promises himself continuity and thus has apparently secured his leadership position. In a leaked speech in 2018, he presented himself as a hardliner, and the dissidents are firmly persecuted under his leadership, but on public appearances he appears fairly recent and sometimes even thought reformers.