Cuba’s President Raul Castro, who was formerly stepping down as leader of the country in February 2018, will now be staying in the role until April 2018.
Last week, the National Assembly voted and agreed that polls will be pushed an additional two months due to hurricane Irma that hit in September, that the island is still struggling to recover from.
Raul Castro will remain as president until the head of Council of State, who is automatically named the president of the country, along with the 30 other members that will be selected by the National Assembly on April 19.
The National Assembly holds 600 seats and the election for this body has yet to be set.
Raul Castro became Cuba president in 2008 and come April, six decades of Castro rule finally comes to an end.
Raul Castro was the brother of the former Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, who established the first communist state in the Western Hemisphere. Raul will remain the leader of the Communist Party of Cuba until 2021.
In 2013, Raul Castro announced that it would be his last five-year term as president.
Even though 60 days is a short time period, Raul Castro still has some last-minute plans in the works.
“Sources tell me that the Cubans are working on a plan to present to the United States that would make Cuba more attractive for U.S. investment. That would require [President Donald Trump] to change some of his executive orders on Cuba,” said Andy Gómez, the interim director of the University of Miami’s Institute of Cuban and Cuban-American Studies to the Miami Herald.
So who will be taking over in April?
Miguel Diaz-Canel, the country’s current vice president is expected to be Raul Castro’s successor.
However, Diaz-Canel has said several anti-American statements in the past.
“It was the government of the US that invaded Cuba, that put the blockade,” said Diaz-Canel in the video leaked this summer. “They have to resolve these things to have normalized relations. We don’t have to give anything in exchange.”
This could still change the U.S. and Cuba relationship, which has been tumultuous since the introduction of communism on the island.
“The fact that a Castro will no longer be the country’s president could result in a further opening with the U.S., as the Libertad Act of 1996, which strengthened the U.S. embargo against Cuba, lists as one of its requirements for a transition government that it “not include Fidel Castro and Raul Castro,” among many other factors. Raul Castro will stay on as head of the Communist Party for the next few years,” writes ABC News.
In 2014, former President Obama and Raul Castro were working to rebuild the tense relationship between the U.S. and Cuba. But, President Trump has a strict stance on communist countries and said in June he would be “canceling” any changes made to re-established diplomatic relations.
Author’s note: Only time will tell, but it looks like 2018 will be a year of change in Cuba. This could mean the U.S. and Cuba relationship could improve, but this all depends on Castro’s role in the government after April and if he really does let the new president take the reins.