Castro resigns

Raul Castro resigns, aged 89, signalling an end to the Castro regime in Cuba

Castro giving a speech in 2019. Photo by Yamil Lage on AP.

3 minute readBy Joshua Allen

For the first time since 1959, Cuba will no longer have a Castro at the helm. Raul Castro, Fidel’s younger brother, has announced that he will step down as Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba. The news comes six decades after Fidel led the Cuban revolution movement. It is yet to be revealed who Castro’s successor will be, however, he believes that he has “fulfilled his mission” and is “confident in the future of the fatherland”.

Raul Castro’s reign saw a development of Cuba that slowly reformed some of the communist ideals that were implemented after the revolution. Since his appointment in 2008, Castro oversaw a reduction in the Cuban public sector, an encouragement in private initiatives and the opening of the Cuban economy towards foreign capital. Many Cubans feel like this was a form of progress for the country, which also began to permit more free speech and social media use. However, for some Cubans, this is not enough; the past few years have highlighted inequalities in Cuba and some feel that not enough is being done to ensure prosperity for all.

Current president, Miguel Diaz-Canel, is rumoured to be favoured for the role, with Castro believing that he is handing the baton over to party loyalists who are “full of passion and anti-imperialist spirit”. Castro’s resignation comes during troubling times for Cuba, however, as the country is still overcoming an extremely troubling economic crisis. The receding subsidisation for staple items, alongside an increase in prices, has impacted many Cubans in recent years. Cuba’s economy shrank by 11 percent in 2020, mainly due to stalled reforms as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, in addition to harsh economic sanctions by the US. Cuba is still on the US’ state sponsors of terrorism list, and with there being a large Republican resistance to any real reform in policy or attitudes, it may take Biden until the second half of his term to begin making any real changes in US-Cuban relations.

The next leader of Cuba must juggle the severe economic issues, the COVID-19 pandemic, complicated US relations and ensuring that the people of Cuba as are loyal to the party as they were to the Castro family.