Ral Castro announced his resignation as Secretary of the Cuban Communist Party, and the former president, 89, the younger brother of Fidel Castro, was expected to be announced at the party congress that began Friday. The position will be taken over by the Dauphine, Miguel Diaz-Canel, which also marks the beginning of a generational change process at the helm of the party and the country.
In his speech, Castro called for a “respectful dialogue” between Cuba and the United States, denouncing the “economic war” launched by Washington against Havana by imposing sanctions on it. Fidel Castro’s brother, who will turn 90 in June, said: “As for me, I am completing my job as the first secretary of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party with satisfaction because I have fulfilled my duty and trusted my country. My countrymen… Nobody should doubt this, as long as I have a life I will be ready and put my feet in the stirrups to defend the homeland, revolution and socialism. ” As for the United States, Castro spoke of “the desire to develop a respectful dialogue and build a new type of relationship with the United States, without pretending that the Cuban caliphate must abandon the principles of revolution and socialism.”
As President, Raul Castro twice welcomed Pope Francis to Cuba, in 2015 for his pastoral visit and in 2016 for a historic meeting with Russian Patriarch Kirill. “I read all the sermons of the Holy Father, if he continues to speak this way, then I too, I am a Communist, will start to pray again. And I am not saying this as a joke.” Raul Castro said on the eve of Francis’ first trip to Fidel Castro Island, maybe I will return to the Catholic Church.
He added, “When the Pope comes to Cuba, I promise you that all the masses will attend. He is a Jesuit, and I too have always taught Jesuit schools, and I admire Frey Beto, a liberation theologian.”
Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Picchio, then a surrogate of the State Secretariat and former Apostolic Ambassador to Havana, was responsible for preparing two visits to the Pope, largely due to the Vatican mediation that restored relations between the United States and Cuba.
Raul Castro had announced that, starting Friday, he would leave the leadership of the Communist Party, the island’s highest governing body, and the last bastion of political power he occupied after his resignation from the presidency in 2018. “My job as first secretary of the CPC Central Committee ends with satisfaction of loyalty and confidence in The future of the country, with a deep conviction not to accept proposals to keep me in the higher organs of the party organization, who said, “I will continue to work in the army.”
Raul, who will turn 90 in June, has confirmed that he will not retire completely while he is still alive.
“I strongly believe in the power and value of the example and the understanding of the people of my country, and I will remain ready and hold my feet on the saddle to defend the homeland, the revolution and socialism,” he said.
BBC Mundo has outlined five Raul initiatives that will go down in history
1. The thaw in relations with the United States
This was perhaps the most dangerous and reformist step he took during his tenure: Despite the fact that his brother was reluctant to sit down to speak – at least publicly – with the “historic enemy of the revolution” and even openly expressed his hesitation, Raul Castro opened channels of communication with the states United led to the normalization of relations.
The two countries, which clashed for years on the international stage, forged bridges towards dialogue, which gave hope for a possible change on the island, especially after President Barack Obama’s visit at the time. But the rapprochement was short-lived: Donald Trump’s arrival at the White House led to a new lull, the imposition of new sanctions on the Havana government and the closure of the embassy, which had opened shortly before, under the pretext of alleged “sound attacks”.
In his farewell message, Raul stated that the Cuban government “affirms its readiness to promote a respectful dialogue with the United States, without expecting to obtain it, and makes concessions inherent to its sovereignty and independence, and concedes in the exercise of its foreign. Politics and the same.”
2. Conquest inside the island
The historical rapprochement with the United States was interpreted as approval from the White House after the reform process began on the island after Raul Castro took over the presidency due to his brother’s illness in 2005.
As part of these reforms, some of the restrictions that had separated Cubans for decades within their country were lifted.
Since that time, Cubans have had access to cell phones and buy or sell homes and cars.
They have also stopped needing government permission to travel outside the country or stay abroad for up to two years without losing legal residency on the island or their assets.
For the first time in decades, Cubans were allowed to stay in hotels in their country and the door was opened for exiles so they could return to the island.
3. Open access to the Internet
As part of these openings, and perhaps the one that had the most lasting visual impact on the lives of ordinary Cubans, the government lifted the ban on the Internet.
For the first time, Cubans were able to communicate freely with Facebook and other social networks and began to access information and political, cultural and entertainment content not under the control of the communist authorities.
Internet access on the island – albeit limited, expensive and with numerous blocked websites – has given way to a parallel platform as many Cubans have begun to broadcast their grievances, question government measures and support change on the island.
Opposition groups and dissenting voices, such as the San Isidro Movement, a group of young rebel artists, have found in the networks a platform to mobilize youth and have led to unprecedented protests in recent months.
4. Economic reform
These changes in daily life were accompanied by a series of economic measures to try to extricate the island’s economy from its historical crisis, which had the utmost expression in openness to private initiative that the authorities call “work. Independent” or “non-governmental sector”.
Self-employment, as private property is called, increased in Cuba, after the reforms of Ral Castro.
Under Raؤولl Castro’s state, the private sector began to thrive on the island: many restaurants, handicraft shops, travel agencies, rented homes and more changed the geography of many cities, especially Havana, which remains a point of reference. Although the government has restricted or expanded the types of businesses Cubans can open over the years.
5. Duration limits
The departure of the youngest of the Castro brothers from the official name of the island during this party congress is due to his decision.
Raul announced in 2016 that he would resign from the Cuban government to make room for the “younger generation” and he did so in 2018, when he left the presidency in the hands of Miguel Diaz-Canel.
At the same time, he encouraged the setting of age limits and the continuation of senior political positions: the mandates of leaders were reduced to two terms of five years and the 60-year-old was set as the maximum age for entry into the Central Committee. The party and 70 years for leadership positions in the Chinese Communist Party.
This reform – to stay with the new leadership – not only means the gradual exit of the so-called “historical generation”, which has somehow gained power since 1959, but it also gets in the way for new party members who seek to perpetuate it.