HAVANA: Delegates of Cuba’s Communist Party elected a new Central Committee on Sunday, with an announcement due Monday on leadership as its historic congress closes with a sendoff for chief Raul Castro.
When the 89-year-old Castro steps down as first secretary of the Communist Party — the most powerful position in Cuba — it will end a nearly six-decade family hold on power that started in 1959 under his revolutionary brother, Fidel, who died in 2016.
The delegates “elected on Sunday evening the members of the CPC Central Committee, who will be responsible for electing the political leadership of the party,“ the CCP posted on Twitter.
An announcement is expected Monday from the Central Committee, which will elect the powerful Politburo for the 2021-2026 period.
As members of the post-revolutionary generation take power, Castro will yield power to the country’s 60-year-old president, Miguel Diaz-Canel.
Two other revolution-era figures will also stand down: Jose Ramon Machado Ventura, 90, the party’s number two, and Commander Ramiro Valdes, 88.
But even as younger Cubans rise to power, no major changes in policy are immediately expected.
Most pressing on the congress’s agenda is the economy, which plummeted by 11% in 2020 — the worst decline since 1993 — due in no small part to recent strengthening of the US embargo and the coronavirus pandemic.
Castro, however, committed the country to “respectful” talks with the US administration of Joe Biden. Ties with the United States had worsened under Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump.
In his last major speech as party head, Castro on Friday called for “revitalizing the process of updating the economic and social model,“ an initiative he began cautiously in 2008.
But Castro told delegates on Friday that Cuba would not renounce “the principles of the revolution and socialism.”
Cuba, with a population of approximately 11.2 million, faces recurrent shortages and must import 80% of what it consumes. — AFP