[News] Cuba's New President Vows to Defend Socialist Revolution

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Fri Apr 20 10:55:36 EDT 2018


  Cuba's New President Vows to Defend Socialist Revolution

April 19, 2018

*Cuba*'s new president, *Miguel Diaz-Canel*, began his term on Thursday 
with a promise to defend the *socialist revolution* led by the Castro 
brothers since 1959, giving a sober speech that also emphasized the need 
to modernize the island's*economy*.

A stalwart of the ruling *Communist Party*, Diaz-Canel was sworn in to 
replace *Raul Castro* by the National Assembly in a carefully managed 
new chapter for the *Caribbean* island, aimed at preserving the 
political system.

"The mandate given by the people to this house is to give continuity to 
the Cuban revolution in a crucial historic moment," Diaz-Canel, 57, told 
the assembly in his first speech as president.

He delivered a warm homage to 86-year-old Raul Castro, who took office a 
decade ago as his brother *Fidel Castro*'s health deteriorated. Fidel 
Castro died in 2016.

Castro will remain head of the Communist Party until a congress in 2021. 
Diaz-Canel, praising the reforms he ushered in as president, said Castro 
would remain the leader of the revolution and would be involved in major 

Stepping to the podium for a 90-minute-long parting speech, Castro 
criticized *U.S. foreign*, *trade* and *immigration policy* under 
President *Donald Trump*.

"Since the current president arrived in office, there has been a 
deliberate reversal in the relations between Cuba and the United States, 
and an aggressive and threatening tone prevails," Castro said.

Thursday's session was held on the 57th anniversary of Cuba's 1961 
defeat of a CIA-backed Cuban exile invasion at the Bay of Pigs, a 
victory Havana celebrates as a symbol of its resistance to 'imperialist' 
pressure for change from Washington.

    Who Is Miguel Diaz-Canel, Cuba's New President?

Diaz-Canel praised Castro's move to renew relations with the United 
States. He said there would be no compromise in Cuba's*foreign policy*, 
but in a repetition of a long-held stance by Havana, he said he would 
hold dialogue with anybody who treated Cuba as an equal.

"I take that as a signal that the Cuban leadership still sees value in 
improving relations, even if they have to wait for the next U.S. 
president," William LeoGrande, co-author of a book on the secret 
U.S.-Cuba talks that led to detente, told Reuters.

Castro spoke highly of Diaz-Canel and gave his blessing to the younger 
man to take over from him as the powerful head of the Communist Party in 
three years. He also said the new president could serve two five-year 
terms, underscoring restrictions Castro imposed on himself after his 
brother's decades in power.

Diaz-Canel confirmed expectations the transition would not herald 
sweeping changes to one of the world's last state-run economies and 
one-party systems, promising there would be no return to capitalism.

Diaz-Canel, who has risen the ranks of the Communist Party over three 
decades, said the new period would be characterized by "modernization of 
the *economic *and *social *model," without giving details.

He ended his speech the same way Fidel Castro used to: punching the air 
and shouting the revolutionary slogans "Motherland or death, socialism 
or death, we will win."

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