Raul Castro says he'll step down as Cuba's president when new term ends
HAVANA — Cuban leader Raul Castro announced on Sunday he would step down from power after his second term as president ends in 2018, and the new parliament named a 52-year-old rising star to become his first vice president and most visible successor.
Castro, 81, made the announcement in a nationally broadcast speech shortly after the Cuban National Assembly elected him to a second five-year term in the opening session of the new parliament.
“This will be my last term,” Castro said.
In a surprise move, the new parliament named as his first vice president Miguel Diaz-Canel, a member of the political bureau who rose through the party ranks in the provinces to become the most visible possible successor to Castro. Diaz-Canel would succeed Castro if he cannot serve his full term.
The new government will almost certainly be the last headed by a Castro brother and their followers who have ruled Cuba since they swept down from the mountains in the 1959 revolution.
Raul Castro starts his second term immediately, leaving him free to retire in 2018 at 86.
Dictator Fidel Castro joined the meeting, in a rare public appearance. Since falling ill in 2006 and ceding the presidency to his brother, the elder Castro, 86, has given up official positions except as a deputy in the National Assembly.
Governments, Cuba watchers and Cubans were keenly observing to see if any new, and younger, faces might appear among the Council of State members, in particular its first vice president and five vice presidents.
Their hopes were partially fulfilled with Diaz-Canel's ascension. He succeeds former First Vice President Jose Machado Ventura, 82, who will continue on as one of five vice presidents. Commander of the Revolution Ramiro Valdes, 80, and Gladys Bejerano, 66, the comptroller general, were re-elected as vice presidents.
Two other newcomers, Mercedes Lopez Acea, 48, first secretary of the Havana communist party, and Salvador Valdes Mesa, 64, head of the official labor federation, also earned vice presidential slots.
Former vice president Esteban Lazo, member of the political bureau of the Communist Party, 68, left his post upon being named parliament president on Sunday, replacing Ricardo Alarcon, who served for 20 years.
Six of the Council's top seven members sit on the party's political bureau which is also lead by Castro.
The National Assembly meets for just a few weeks each year and delegates its legislative powers between sessions to the 31-member Council of State, which also functions as the nation's executive through the Council of Ministers it appoints.
Eighty percent of the 612 deputies, who were elected in an uncontested vote Feb. 3 and with an average age under 50, were born after the Revolution.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- VA Phoenix social worker on leave for Halloween costume
- Obama signs $607B Defense bill but blasts GOP limits for Gitmo
- U.S. has urged legal reforms abroad to block Islamic State recruits
- Student dies in traditional Ohio State University lake jump
- New Hampshire cancer patient gets permission to travel to Maine for medical pot
- Email address gives FBI lead on record theft of user IDs, passwords
- Peanut glut poses hefty bailout tab for taxpayers
- Barrier nears completion in Indiana marsh to keep Asian carp from Great Lakes
- ‘Crisis mode’ near at U.S.-Mexico line as nearly 5,000 children try to cross border in October
- Military Academy bans pillow fights; 30 hurt during last one
- Video prompts calls for probe of Chicago police