Fidel and Raul Castro at the first session of the new Cuban legislature on Sunday, February 24, 2013. Photo:

HAVANA TIMES — The new Cuban parliament today ratified Raul Castro as president for another five years. He first took that office in 2006 following the illness of his brother, Fidel, reported DPA news.

Castro, 81, announced to the country’s parliament that he will leave office in 2018. “I wish to clarify that in my case, irrespective of when a constitution reform on term limits takes place, this will be my last period,” he said today when assuming his second five-year term.

His departure therefore doesn’t depend on when the constitutional amendment is approved establishing term limits of two five-year terms for senior-level officials.

Castro, who came to power in 2006 following the illness of his brother, officially assumed his first term in February 2008.

Today, the parliament also elected Miguel Diaz-Canel (a relatively young 52-year-old politician) as first vice president of the new 31-member Council of State.

Raul Castro praised Diaz-Canel as the person best suited to ensure “continuity” and “stability” in case of “any contingency” on the island owing to “the loss of the highest leadership.”

This new “number two” of the government is replacing Jose Ramon Machado Ventura, 82, who was one of the “historicos” of the Cuban Revolution. Diaz-Canel thus becomes the youngest face in the upper echelons of power.

“This decision is of particular historical significance because it represents a defining step in shaping the future direction of the country,” said Raul Castro, following the appointment of Diaz-Canel.

Raul Castro praised the new first Vice-president Miguel Diaz-Canel as the person best suited to ensure “continuity” and “stability” in case of “any contingency” on the island owing to “the loss of the highest leadership.”

The inaugural session was also attended by former president Fidel Castro, 86, who hadn’t appeared before the legislative body since August 2010.

Raul Castro had repeatedly stressed the need to rejuvenate the governmental apparatus because “time is short.” In April 2011, the younger Castro acknowledged that the country didn’t have a “reserve of properly prepared substitutes.”

In the inaugural session today, the assembly also elected Esteban Lazo as president of the parliament. Lazo, 68, replaces Ricardo Alarcon, who had served in that post for two decades.

Lazo — a deputy since 1981 and considered one of the hardliners of the Communist Party of Cuba — had up until now served as one of the vice presidents of the Council of State, a position he had held since 1992.

Read Raul Castro’s acceptance speech (available thus far only in Spanish).



14 thoughts on “Cuba Has Raul Castro Till 2018

  • Multi-party democracies are nothing but the dictatorship of the top parties as is the case in the U.S. where there is actually an “unelected dictatorship of money” that is in control of both the Republican and Democratic parties.
    Third party candidates have ZERO chance of election .

    Cuba’s Poder Popular, in banning the participation of all political parties in elections was, in theory , the best possible way to elect the choices of the people and not just the candidates pre-selected by either big money as they are in the States or by the PCC as they are now under a badly corrupted Poder Popular.

    Political parties kill democracy not enhance it.
    Direct democracy is the most difficult method of electing people to corrupt .

  • Exactly my thoughts. They don’t need to make any constitutional amendment for the changes approved so far, so unless the call is just for the two terms period limit (that AFAIK don’t really need to be codified as a constitutional amendment, not to mention that Raul speech hinted otherwise), it can only mean a deepening of the reform process.

    And even simple things, like expanding private property rights in the constitution would signal the recognition that these changes came to stay (as opposed to the 1994 changes that were merely an expression of immediate need and were discouraged after the economy gained a degree of stabilization).

  • The President of the Cuban Parliament is the ink pad of the rubber stamp.

  • Token or not, that “super-commie” is now the head of the Cuban parliament and can hinder the reform process if he chooses to do so. And remember that formally the parliament is the one making the rules and he will be leading if for the time being.

    As for your racial comments regarding Lazo, I made a quick google image search of him and found plenty of pictures with Latin America and Europe leaders, so you are demonstrably wrong. Even more now, that as head of the parliament every single notable visitor will have to deal with him.

    If this decision had racist motivations, he would be promoted to vice-president instead and confined to a dark corner of the state bureaucracy, well hidden from the public view.

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