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Raúl Castro steps down as Cuban Communist Party leader

Raúl Castro steps down as Cuban Communist Party leader

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Raúl Castro steps down as Cuban Communist Party leader

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Raul Castro (left) with then-US President Barack Obama in 2016 copyrightEPA
image captionRaúl Castro (right) with then- President in 2016

Raúl Castro says he is resigning as Cuban Communist Party leader, ending his family’s six decades in power.

Mr Castro, 89, told a party congress that he is handing over the leadership to a younger generation “full of passion and anti-imperialist spirit”.

His successor will be voted in at the end of the four-day congress.

The move, which was expected, ends the era of formal leadership by him and his brother Fidel Castro, which began with the 1959 revolution.

“I believe fervently in the strength and exemplary nature and comprehension of my compatriots,” he told party delegates in Havana on Friday.

  • In pictures: Raúl Castro’s career over six decades

“And as long as I live I will be ready with my foot in the stirrups to defend the fatherland, the revolution and socialism.”

Although Mr Castro has not endorsed a successor, it is widely believed the party leadership will pass to Miguel Díaz-Canel, took over as the ’s president in 2018.


Not unexpected, but no less historic

By Will Grant, Cuba Correspondent

While the entire island knew this moment was coming, it was no less historic or symbolic when it arrived: Cuba will be officially governed by someone other than a Castro for the first time since 1959.

The reality is that, at least in the short term, little will change.

The man who took over from Raúl Castro as president, Miguel Díaz-Canel, may well succeed him now as the party’s first secretary too. It seems likely he will be forced to take further steps to liberalise Cuba’s centrally controlled economy. The island is currently in the grip of its worst economic crisis since the period immediately following the end of the Cold War. As a result, private farmers were recently permitted to sell beef and dairy products – goods previously under the sole control of the state.

Any hope of improving ties with the US however may have to wait as the administration has shown little inclination to unpick the administration’s harsher on Cuba at this stage.

One thing is for sure, Raúl Castro’s words of keeping “one foot in the stirrup” means he will remain a powerbroker behind the scenes. And by reiterating the island’s eternal commitment to socialism it means that political change remains as unlikely under his successor as it was under his late brother, Fidel.


Raúl Castro has been the party’s first secretary since succeeding his older brother, Fidel, in 2011.

Fidel Castro led the communist revolution that toppled the Cuban government in 1959, when Raúl served as one of his commanders.

Fidel Castro led the country until falling ill in 2006 and in 2008 handed over the presidency to his brother. Fidel Castro died in 2016.

Related Topics

  • Cuba
  • Raul Castro

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