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Cuba changes leader, but not course

CUBA (OBSERVATORY) – The historic session of the Cuban parliament, during which Raul Castro resigned as chairman of the State Council and the Council of Ministers of Cuba, ended on Thursday in Havana.

For the first time in several decades, at the helm of the Cuban state, a man who did not bear the surname of Castro got up – from now on, the State Council is headed by Miguel Diaz-Canel. Previously, he was the first deputy chairman of the State Council. However, changing the leader does not mean a change in the era and course of Cuba, judging by the first statements of the new leader of the country.

Capitalism – no

Diaz-Kanel in his first speech said that there will be no return to capitalism in Cuba. According to the new leader, among those who were elected to the governing Cuban authorities at this session of the parliament, “there will be no place for those who want the restoration of capitalism in Cuba.”

At the same time, he promised to continue the actualization of the economic model and keep foreign policy unchanged. “The mandate given to the people elected at this session of the parliament is to continue the Cuban revolution in this key historical moment, as part of the actualization of the country’s economic model,” said Diaz-Kanel.

The Russian expert, scientific director of the Institute of Latin American Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences Vladimir Davydov believes that the new course of Cuba will be succession, and with the arrival of the new leader in Cuba nothing will change, but certain economic indulgences are possible.

“It is obvious that we are expecting a succession course, maybe over time it will become more flexible in order to eventually adapt better to the new conditions of the country’s existence in a global context, which, I must say, is not very orderly,” said Davydov RIA News.

Party leadership

The Communist Party of Cuba, judging by the words of the new leader, may not be afraid of competition in the future. Diaz-Kanel highlighted her role in the political life of the country. “It is absolutely clear to us that only the Communist Party guarantees the unity of the nation and the people,” he said.

He also promised to leave the country’s foreign policy unchanged. And it is determined by the willingness to dialogue on good terms, but without pressure or infringement of independence. “Cuba does not make concessions in terms of sovereignty and independence, we will never give in to pressure or threats,” Diaz-Kanel said.

At the same time, according to the new Cuban leader, the country will be open to dialogue with those who will be ready for it under good conditions.

The American factor

The process of normalizing relations between Havana and the US, which began in 2014, was also touched upon during the process of the actual change of power in Cuba. And Raul Castro touched upon this topic, in which this process started.

According to him, the arrival of Donald Trump to power led to a rollback of relations with the United States. “We can state a rollback in relations between Cuba and the United States, in the statements of the US authorities, an aggressive and threatening tone prevails,” Castro said in the country’s parliament.

The United States and Cuba announced in late 2014 that they had begun work on the gradual normalization of relations. In July 2015, the countries restored diplomatic relations. Subsequently, the parties signed a number of bilateral agreements, although the trade embargo against Cuba, introduced by the US Congress, was never abolished.

However, in June 2017, US President Trump announced the abolition of the “erroneous” policies of his predecessor in normalizing relations with Havana. The White House noted that the US retains the embargo imposed on Cuba and opposes calls by the United Nations and other international organizations to lift it.

The point of view of Castro is shared by Russian experts. Thus, the director of the Latin American department of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Alexander Shchetinin, in an interview with RIA Novosti said that the American policy towards Cuba is irrational and absolutely destructive in terms of continuing sanctions against Havana.

The Russian factor

With Moscow, Havana has significantly improved its relations in all spheres, Castro said.

“We will never be ungrateful, we are grateful to all the peoples of the former USSR, especially to the Russian people,” Castro said, noting the assistance that the Soviet Union provided to Cuba.

According to Alexander Shchetinin, Moscow for its part expects that after the resignation of the current head of the State Council and the Council of Ministers of Cuba, Castro, the course of this country to develop a strategic partnership with Russia will continue.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has already sent congratulations to Diaz-Kanel on his election to the post of chairman of the State Council of Cuba and reaffirmed his readiness to work closely together to further strengthen the strategic partnership of the two countries.

Putin stressed that Russia highly values ​​relations with Cuba, which are based on “strong traditions of friendship and mutual respect.” The Russian president reaffirmed his readiness to work closely together to further strengthen the strategic partnership between Russia and Cuba, constructive cooperation in all areas.

Also, Putin sent a telegram to Raul Castro, in which he thanked him for the many years of interaction that contributed to the development of relations between the Russian Federation and Cuba.