MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) – Cuban President Raul Castro has announced that this will be his last 5-year term as president.
Castro was joined by his brother Fidel at the opening session of Cuba’s National Assembly. During their session, the National Assembly named Raul Castro to another five-year term as president.
The announcement put an expiration date on the Castro Cuban regime.
Cuban Americans we met at La Carreta Sunday evening don’t buy it.
“You don’t believe it,” CBS4′s Carey Codd asks Jorge Cabrera.
“Not a bit,” said Cabrera who added that the only thing that will convince them is “their death.”
Raul Castro insists it’s true. He’s said in the past he would like to see two term limits for leaders of the communist country. Experts on Cuban American relations see these only as small changes.
“In itself, the changes in themselves they do not indicate a willingness to move the country towards democracy which is the goal of the U.S. policy with Cuba,” said Sebastian Arcos, Associate Director of Development for the School of International and Public Affairs at Florida International University.
Castro also announced that 52 year old Miguel Diaz-Canel would serve as his top lieutenant. Arcos said it’s an unexpected move for a man making a major leap from his recent position as Minister of Higher Education.
“This is the first time that someone who was not part of Castro’s guerilla movement is now in a position a very important position of power in Cuba,” Arcos said.
Raul Castro has ushered in several incremental changes, experts say. For instance, Cuban dissident Yoani Sanchez was recently allowed to go on a world tour and U.S. lawmakers recently travelled to the island and praised the open lines of communication.
But many Cuban Americans remain skeptical and say as long as socialism remains the political system little will change.
“It wouldn’t matter either way who is running the country unless the system is totally revamped,” said Philip Prieto.
Arcos said he’ll be watching closely to see if the term limits and other changes become part of the Cuban constitution. He believes the change is simply to pass the torch of Cuban leadership to a new generation.