On April 19, 2018, the National Assembly of the People’s Power of Cuba appointed Miguel Díaz-Canel as Chairman of the State Council. He replaced Raúl Castro, brother of Fidel Castro, the country’s leader until 2008. Does the Island of Freedom enter a “New Era,” which the United States was waiting for, or will the new leader continue Castro’s path of development? Vladimir Sudarev, professor at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, discussed the appointment in an interview with valdaiclub.com.
The new old era of the Island of Freedom
The American media is full of headlines that “a new era is beginning in Cuba,” with a new leader who is not connected to either of Castro brothers. Who is really Miguel Díaz-Canel?
Judging by his recent statements, he is in a sense “holier than the Pope.” Díaz-Canel constantly said that there would be only one-party system, only one Communist Party, that the new National Assembly would not change its orientation and so on. He said that there would be a strict, clear continuity of the Castro brothers’ policies.
At the same time, Raúl continues to be first secretary of the Communist Party, and this is an essential force. The party consists of Orthodox-minded comrades, who are absolutely not interested in making any serious reforms in Cuba.
Without reforms and sudden movements
Miguel Díaz-Canel closely studied and took into account the experience of those reformers who rallied around Raúl Castro in the mid-1990s and were able to pull Cuba from the economic bottom after the Soviet Union left it.
But what happened to these reformers? They are not in demand now. Both Carlos Lage Dávila and Bruno Rodriguez, and also some others were removed from power. In many respects, this was due to Fidel Castro, who was still active behind the scenes. Miguel Díaz-Canel does not want to repeat their mistakes.
Therefore, I am absolutely sure that there won’t be any dramatic change in the plan of reforms, be it economics, political freedoms, and so on. There won’t be anything under Díaz-Canel. Let’s see how the events will develop further. In any case, he is completely not interested in forcing the economic reforms that Raúl Castro began with great caution.
Cuba – USA: “Cold winter”
The Cuban society is vaccinated with the ideology of a besieged fortress, [so it is unlikely that the public will rise against the cautious course of Miguel Díaz-Canel].
Moreover, US President Donald Trump largely abolished those indulgences that Barack Obama did, and tightened his policy towards Cuba, not to mention his political discourse, and the expulsion of Cuban diplomats in connection with the so-called “acoustic attack” against employees of the US Embassy in Cuba.
Trump conducts a quite straightforward, tough policy. Of course, there will not be any revision of the United States’ trade and economic embargo against Cuba. But if Obama attempted to soften it, today there is a “cold winter” in the US-Cuban relations.
Trump will hardly tighten further the policy towards Cuba, but in the coming years a rapprochement between the two countries is unlikely. The US knows perfectly well what the new Cuban leader Miguel Díaz-Canel is a staunch supporter of Castro’s path of development: be it Fidel or Raúl.