HAVANA TIMES — With fanfare in the media, Cuban President Raul Castro turns 85 on Friday and is approaching the end of his mandate, scheduled for 2018. His birthday comes at a time of a profound transformation of the economy, in complex negotiations with the US and paying billions of dollars to international creditors to attract investment that the country needs.
His personal history includes almost 70 years of political activity. Linked to Marxism since adolescence, he took part in the 1953 attack on the Moncada Cuartel, he was a political prisoner, exiled in Mexico, then the leader of a guerrilla front, and later the builder of the Revolutionary Armed Forces. As president of Cuba, [since his brother Fidel fell ill in July 2006 and elected in 2008] he is the father of economic reforms, architect of generational change and is credited with bringing Washington to the negotiating table.
Many Cubans call him the Chinaman for his eyes but he also qualifies for the nickname because of his relationship with time. His slogan for reform is “slowly but surely” and the government plan extends until 2030, well beyond the time of his mandate, limited by himself when he proposed that no leader should be in office more than 10 years .
The main objective of his government seems to be to create a sustainable economic model, which would improve the living conditions of Cubans, while also maintaining universal health coverage, free education and culture accessible to all citizens. It is an ambitious goal for a Third World country with few natural resources but possible in a nation with huge human resources.