World: Raul Castro is expected to step down soon, and recent moves suggest he won't be alone - - PressFrom - US
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World Raul Castro is expected to step down soon, and recent moves suggest he won't be alone

22:17  03 march  2018
22:17  03 march  2018 Source:   miamiherald.com

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And recent moves suggest he won ’ t be alone . By Nora Gámez Torres. “ That award ceremony seems to show Raúl Castro 's desire to leave his top government position not alone , but with his three old cronies,” former political prisoner René Gomez Manzano wrote in a column published in Cubanet

President Raúl Castro of Cuba, left, and Vice-President Miguel Díaz-Canel in 2013. Díaz-Canel is expected to take Castro ’s place as Cuba’s next When Cuba’s president stands down this week, it will mark the first time in nearly six decades that the island will be led by somebody whose last name

Raúl Castro wearing a hat: Cuban President Raul Castro delivers a speech during a mass rally to pay homage to Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro at the Revolution Square on Dec. 3, 2016 in Santiago de Cuba. © David de la Paz/Xinhua/Sipa USA/TNS Cuban President Raul Castro delivers a speech during a mass rally to pay homage to Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro at the Revolution Square on Dec. 3, 2016 in Santiago de Cuba.

MIAMI - Accustomed to reading between the lines, Cubans have been speculating about the fate of three "historic" revolutionary leaders - Jose Ramon Machado Ventura, Ramiro Valdes Menendez and Guillermo Garcia Frias - all of whom were honored in a recent ceremony.

Cuban leader Raul Castro awarded the three men medals as "Heroes of Labor" at a ceremony Feb. 24. The awards generally indicate that the honorees will soon retire from public life.

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HAVANA — Raúl Castro , who took over from his brother Fidel 12 years ago and led Cuba through some of its biggest changes in decades, is expected to step down on Thursday and hand power to someone outside the Castro dynasty for the first time since the Cuban revolution more than half a

Raúl Castro is expected to step down as president of Cuba this week, ending a nearly 60-year run where he helped his brother lead the communist nation before becoming president himself. His older brother, Fidel Castro , was always the public face of the revolution. Fidel was the charismatic leader

"This is goodbye," Reinaldo Escobar, editor of the 14ymedio digital news page, told el Nuevo Herald during a Miami visit. "That would mean Ramiro Valdes, Machado Ventura and Guillermo Garcia may be removed from the Council of State," the executive body of the island's legislature, the National Assembly of People's Power.

Castro, 86, has promised to retire from the presidency of the Council of State and the Council of Ministers (the Cabinet) in April, fueling intense interest in the succession. The newly elected National Assembly to be inaugurated in April will select the new Council of State.

"That award ceremony seems to show Raul Castro's desire to leave his top government position not alone, but with his three old cronies," former political prisoner Rene Gomez Manzano wrote in a column published in Cubanet, a digital news site. "If that was not the case, this solemn ceremony would not make much sense. In the Communist liturgy, awarding medals is usually the prologue for a demotion and retirement."

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Raul Castro is expected to step aside as president today, though he will still lead the Communist Party. So how significant is this moment, and what Raul - he 's 86 now, and he instituted these term limits so to speak in 2013 and announced last year he was stepping down . He 's signaled that he

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Machado, 87, is considered a top influential figure. He was first vice president of the Council of State from 2008-2013 and remains second secretary of the Cuban Communist Party, or PCC - both posts No. 2 to Castro. Machado and Valdes remain among the five vice presidents of the Council of State and sit on the PCC's Political Bureau.

Valdes, 85, served many years as Minister of the Interior, in charge of domestic and national security and Cuba's intelligence services. Garcia, 90, is a member of the Council of State and the PCC Central Committee.

Machado and Valdes are believed to be part of a conservative faction within the government that views with suspicion the reforms Castro launched after he replaced his ailing brother Fidel in 2006, such as improved U.S. relations.

Their departure might help to clear the way for Castro's successor as well as a reformist agenda to try fix the island's grave problems: an economy stalled by the crisis in Venezuela, the dual-currency system, an aged population, little foreign investments, tense relations with Washington and younger generations who want more change.

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Raúl Castro , 86, is expected to step aside as Cuba’s president this week, ending the epochal run of two brothers who sent shock waves through 20th-century In a session of the National Assembly opening Wednesday – and probably culminating with a succession vote on Thursday – members are

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"The entire historic generation is retiring. That's what was planned. And that's healthy and important. Let a new generation of young people come up," said someone close to the Cuban government who asked for anonymity for fear of retaliation. "Whomever becomes (Castro's successor), will be a great hope."

Machado, Valdes and Garcia all participated in the first stages of Fidel Castro's revolution and have held a series of top government jobs over the past 60 years. And, like Raul Castro, they are all over the age of 85.

In recent years, Castro has been publicly adamant that a generational change in the top leadership is needed to guarantee the continuity of the island's Communist system.

In 2013, Castro announced that he would retire in 2018, at the end of his second five-year-term, as president of the Council of State. Machado was then replaced as first vice president of the Council of State with Miguel Diaz-Canel, signaling that the 57-year-old engineer with a long history of PCC and government service could be Castro's successor.

During a PCC congress in 2016 Castro also proposed a maximum age of 70 and two terms for the party's Central Committee. Those changes were supposed to be part of a constitutional reform that never took place.

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MEXICO CITY — President Raúl Castro of Cuba announced Sunday that the five-year term he has just begun will be his last, giving the Castro era an official expiration date of 2018. The race to succeed Mr. Castro , who is 81, now has a front-runner: Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, 52

In 2006, Fidel Castro shocked the world by stepping down as President of Cuba and picking his brother Raul as his successor. During his time in power, Raul Castro allowed for a small private sector to start in Cuba and also reopened diplomatic relations with the United States, which had

The National Assembly is not expected to observe that age limit, because Machado and Valdes have bullet-proof nominations for seats in the new legislature come April.

"I do think these tributes are a prelude to these three historicos stepping down their positions on the Council of State in April, in line with the two-term limit on holding high posts," said William LeoGrande, an American University professor who follows Cuba closely.

Even if Castro fulfills his promise to leave the presidency of the Council of State in April, he could stay on the council as "just another member," said Escobar of 14ymedio. Castro is expected to retain the top post at the PCC.

A meeting of the PCC Central Committee scheduled for March 18 might also throw up some surprises, such as the replacement of Machado as second secretary with Diaz-Canel or another younger cadre.

The Granma newspaper, official voice of the Communist Party, has reported that the meeting's agenda includes "deepening ... the strategic projection for the coming years."

LeoGrande said the changes will likely be limited to the government and will exclude the PCC, which is expected to have a stabilizing role in the transition.

"I would be surprised if they (Valdes and Machado) were also replaced on the Political Bureau of the party right away. Raul has tried to smooth the generational transmission by keeping some senior people in place while promoting younger people so that the leadership combines both," he said.

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Raúl Castro is expected to step down as Cuba’s president this week, a role he ’s filled since his late brother Fidel’s resignation in 2008. The nomination will be voted on later Wednesday and formally announced Thursday, Reuters reports. Diaz-Canel is expected to be approved with almost total

On April 19, Raul Castro is expected to step down as president of Cuba and be replaced by Vice President Miguel Díaz-Canel – a move not expected to The U.S. maintains an economic embargo against Cuba that prohibits travel there solely for tourism, though there are other categories under

But even if Castro, Machado and other members of the old generation of leaders retain their party jobs, it may not be for long. The next congress of the PCC should take place in 2021.

"Does anyone believe that Raul Castro will be head of the party until his 90s? I don't think so," said Escobar.

The departure of the old leadership, if it happens, could also be interpreted as a response to the international and domestic pressures faced by Castro and his inner circle at this transitional moment for the government.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson suggested in February that the future of bilateral relations - now at a standstill because of the alleged health attacks on U.S. diplomats in Havana - would depend on what happens with the leadership transition.

"Cuba has an opportunity in their own transfer of power from decades of the Castro regime to take a new direction," Tillerson said. "The future of our relationship is up to Cuba - the United States will continue to support the Cuban people in their struggle for freedom."

The head of the Organization of American States, Luis Almagro, said in Miami last month that the Castro regime was "the worst kind of dictatorship" and urged OAS member nations to reject "a non-democratic succession" in Cuba.

He also offered his support to the campaign for a plebiscite known as Cubadecide and led by Rosa Maria Paya. She has urged the international community to refuse to recognize the new National Assembly and Council of State because they are not directly elected by voters.

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Several dissidents also have launched the campaign "Mas castrismo para que" (More Castro rule for what?) to denounce what they allege is an "electoral farce" that would allow Castro family members to retain the reins of power. Raul Castro's son, Col. Alejandro Castro Espin, heads the powerful National Defense Commission but was not nominated to a seat in the National Assembly - and, therefore, cannot be president under current law.

Several opposition activists tried to register their candidacies during recent local elections just to show that the nomination and election process was not democratic and was controlled by the government. None of them won nomination.

Many Cubans who don't directly oppose the government have also started to question the island's electoral system, in which a "Candidates Commission" appointed by the government selects the candidates who can be elected to the National Assembly. Cuban law only recognizes the Communist Party or PCC.

An online discussion organized by the official Cuba debate site drew the following questions: "Wouldn't a separation of powers be useful for the country? "Why do the Candidates Commission and the electoral commission belong to the Assemblies, and are not independent of them?" "What's the basis for the selection process for the Assembly candidates who are not nominated by voters at the base level?" and "Why keep candidates who have an enviable personal record but who are well past their 80s?"

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