Cuba’s Communist Party chose Miguel Diaz-Canel as president, sticking with a candidate who was groomed for years to take over after six decades of rule by the Castro family.
The National Assembly formally announced Diaz-Canel’s election Thursday following two days of meetings in Havana. Diaz-Canel was born a year after the Cuban revolution.
Diaz-Canel’s rise to the presidency marks the first time the island that has been controlled by someone other than Raul and Fidel Castro since the brothers led the 1959 revolution, building a government that has tightly controlled much of the economy and everyday life ever since. The President will still have to answer to Castro, who will remain head of the Communist Party.
The party selected six vice presidents, only one of whom, Ramiro Valdes Menendez, 85, fought in the revolution. The new makeup of the government “bends slightly toward the side of reform and change,” said James Williams, president of Engage Cuba, a Washington-based coalition of companies that wants to life the U.S. embargo against Cuba. “How far they will go remains to be seen.”