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Emil Mella
Dr. June Teufel Dreyer
Intro to World Politics - University of Miami Summer Scholars Program
Wednesday, July 10th, 2013

Miguel Daz-Canel: The Future for a Post-Castro Cuba


On the 22nd of February of this year, Raul Castro, President of Cuba, jokingly asked
reporters in Havana, Im going to be 82 years old, I have the right to retire, dont you think?
Two days later, he turned that light-hearted statement into an official announcement, when he
made clear his plans to leave office in 2018, and will concede power to his second in command,
Miguel Daz-Canel Bermdez. This will mark a historic milestone in Cubas government: The
first time the country will be led by somebody not named Castro, as well as the first time the
president will be an official who was not alive at the time of the Cuban Revolution in 1959. Fidel
Castro confirmed his support of Daz-Canel in a rare appearance in Cuban parliament, speaking
in support of his brothers reelection on February 24th. Despite being trusted by both Castro
brothers to continue the legacy of Cuba and its Communist Party, Daz-Canel actually promises
to bring strong change to the opinions and structure of the Caribbean nations government.
Daz-Canel was a beloved figure and youth leader in the city of Santa Clara. As a young
boy, he sported long hair, listened to the Beatles, and supported homosexuality in a time where
all of these were considered lawful offenses in Communist Cuba. As a professor at the
Universidad Marta Abreu de Las Villas in Santa Clara, he supported the idea of incorporating the
best parts of both socialism and capitalism to maintain a greater and more stabilized Cuban
economy, something that wouldnt be enacted in Cuban government until some years after the
fall of the USSR in the later 1990s. The next president of Cuba would have effectively been
considered the governments worst nightmare about thirty years previous to the historic
announcement that marked his place in the history of Cuban government and the Cuban
Communist Party.
When he first entered into the political scene in Cuba twenty years ago as the Communist
Party leader for the Villa Clara province at the age of 33, Miguel was already a well known local
personality, was well liked by his neighbors and comrades, and was known to be a modest and
honest man. According to one of his neighbors in Santa Clara, Alberto Scinasis, the townspeople
wept when he left Santa Clara, and described him as intelligent, studious, and hard working.
Despite always being seen as extremely serious in front of the press, various sources claim DazCanel is a warm, lively, and humorous person to be around. So five years from now, the Republic
of Cuba will have a new, economically liberal, charismatic, and well-liked leader as commanderin-chief.

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Ever since the late nineties, Cuba has moved towards economic liberalization of its
markets, enacting economic reform by opening the country up to private enterprise, for example,
mainly so as to keep its economy afloat without the massive help it received from Soviet
economic subsidies up until the collapse of the USSR in 1991. Once he came into power as
president, Raul Castro continued these efforts at economic reform, all the while making clear to
both the government and the people of Cuba that he did not intend to bring capitalism back to
Cuba, but instead wanted "to defend, maintain, and continue to perfect socialism", as he made
clear in his speech to Parliament on the 24th of February. Miguel Daz-Canel has made clear he
intends to maintain and continue the process of the economic reform enacted by the Castros,
such as those measures implemented in the VI Congress of the Communist Party, which intends
to apply the mixed economic values of capitalism and socialism in Cuba with countries across
the world, which provides a significant political change to Cubas policies as well.
While it has been reported that there is a possibility of Daz-Canel facing opposition in
Parliament and the populace once the firm and familiar figures of the Castros have departed,
Cuban officials have assured the press that a post-Castro government will not change, and that
Miguel will have the full backing of all the nations governmental institutions. While those from
regions such as Santa Clara and Holguin where he is already known are familiar with and
support Daz-Canel, the future leader of Cuba has yet to woo most of his countrys population.
Considering his overall charisma and his support from both Castro brothers, however, its not
expected for the former university professor to have too much trouble relating with the people
and establishing himself as a trusted personality among the Cuban populace.
When it comes to the countrys relations with the United States, Cuba currently finds itself
in the fifty-first year of the economic embargo set in place by the government of the U.S.A.
Would this shift in power actually be a sign for change in the United States and Cubas public
relations? Probably not. Daz-Canel has shown no sign of supporting the United States or
wanting to cooperate with the North American nation, and considering his pedigree in power
grooming courtesy of Raul Castro, its unlikely that well be seeing any change of that magnitude
on the Cuban international political landscape anytime soon.
So, in conclusion, while the new change in regime will mark an interesting change for
Cubas history and politics, the new government will only really present a continuation of the
old, with the optimism presented by some who hope that Cuba might transition into a multiparty
democracy through this acceptance of new generations into political power looking like nothing
more than just a capitalists hopeful dream. The same economic and political policies established
by the Castros will likely be what Daz-Canel will be seen enacting and continuing as the
policies for his Cuban government of the future.

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Works Cited:

Weber, Peter. "A Post-Castro Cuba: What Ral Castro's Looming Retirement Means The Week." The Week. The Week Publications, 25 Feb. 2013. Web. 09 July 2013.
<http://theweek.com/article/index/240531/a-post-castro-cuba-what-rauacutel-castroslooming-retirement-means>.
Rainsford, Sarah. "Miguel Diaz-Canel: The Man Tipped to Lead Cuba." BBC News.
BBC, 27 Feb. 2013. Web. 09 July 2013. <http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latinamerica-22066591>.
Usborne, David. "Miguel Diaz-Canel: Castro's Chosen Successor Is Integral Figure in
Cuban Party Machine but Can He Win over Man in Street?" The Independent.
Independent Digital News and Media, 25 Feb. 2013. Web. 09 July 2013.
<http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/miguel-diazcanel-castros-chosensuccessor-is-integral-figure-in--cuban-party-machine-but-can-he-win-over-man-in-street8510566.html>.
Davis, Carlo. "Miguel Diaz-Canel, First Vice President Of Cuba's Communist Party, Rose
Gradually To Castro's No. 2." The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 25 Feb.
2013. Web. 09 July 2013. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/25/miguel-diazcanel-cuba-first-vice-president_n_2758824.html>.
Levy, Arturo Lopez. "Cuba: The Beginning of the Post-Castro Era." The Huffington Post.
TheHuffingtonPost.com, 04 Apr. 2013. Web. 09 July 2013.
<http://www.huffingtonpost.com/arturo-lopez-levy/post-castro-cuba_b_2996206.html>.
Sanchez, Yoani. "Cuba's Octogenarian Leaders Hand-Pick a Successor... and No One in
Cuba Pays Much Attenion." The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 25 Feb. 2013.
Web. 09 July 2013. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/yoani-sanchez/cubas-octogenarianleader_b_2762278.html>.