Cuba’s last Castro is set to leave the political stage, as Fidel’s 89-year-old brother Raúl cedes power to a younger generation at this week’s communist party congress which must also tackle a dire economic crisis and growing political dissent.
The Communist party, which has ruled Cuba unchallenged since the 1959 revolution, is besieged by the coronavirus pandemic, US sanctions, chronic shortages of basic goods and a population impatient with bureaucratic bungling and long queues to secure daily necessities such as milk, bread, butter, yoghurt and meat.
Raúl is to stand down as the party’s first secretary and armed forces commander after serving two five-year terms. He succeeded his brother Fidel, who handed power to him several years before his death in 2016.
At the last party congress five years ago, Raúl suggested the other remaining revolutionaries of a similar age on the all-powerful politburo should retire with him.
President Miguel Díaz-Canel, Castro’s 60-year-old protégé, is expected to take his place, concluding a lengthy transition from revolutionary veterans to the generation born after 1959.