MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A big day is expected in Cuba on Wednesday, though some think its just for show.
If all goes according to plan, for the first time since 1959 Cuba will be ruled by someone not named Castro.
86-year-old Raul Castro will step down as Cuba’s president but by no means is he going away.
“Raul will remain until 2021 as Secretary General of the [communist] party,” said Dr. Jaime Suchlicki with the Cuban Studies Institute. “The party is the highest authority in Cuba, is the one that runs Cuba, not the president.”
Castro’s departure will signal the end of decades of upfront leadership by the Castro brothers.
Beginning with the revolution of 1959, Fidel and Raul have held the island nation in their grip…and now?
“Not much is gonna change with the old guard still around,” said Dr. Andy Gomez, author and former Cuban Studies professor at the University of Miami. “So what changes in Cuba? Very little.”
Expected to be named president by the national assembly is 57-year-old Miguel Diaz-Canel.
He’s known as party regular working his way up the ranks, emerging as the first vice president of the nation.
An uninspiring speaker that is regarded on the island, and in Miami, as a figurehead but being sold to the Cuban population as a younger, new generation leader.
“Diaz-Canel is a low level apparatchik in the communist party without any support in the party,” said Dr. Suchlicki. “Without support from the military, without any popularity and support in the Cuban population.”
Any chance any of Raul or Fidel’s children will gain power? The cuban constitution says they would have to be members of the national assembly.
“The only Castro left in the 1605 member of the national assembly is Mariela Castro,” said Dr. Gomez.
She is not being considered though, and what if Diaz-Canel, the first civilian Cuban president in decades, stumbles?
“I would not rule out, down the line that if things do not work out for Diaz-Canel as a civilian in power, that the military will be back in power,” Diaz said.