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World Cuba's next president? Who is Miguel Díaz-Canel

09:31  18 april  2018
09:31  18 april  2018 Source:   usatoday.com

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Cuba ' s next president : Who is Miguel Díaz - Canel ? The relatively unknown Communist Party official is expected to replace retiring Cuban President Raul Díaz - Canel maintained a separate career track throughout his time in politics. After finishing his military service, he was an engineering professor at

Cuban President Raul Castro (L) and First Vice president Miguel Diaz-Canel talking during the Permanent Working Committees of the National Assembly of the People's Power.  Cuba is preparing for the end of an era next week when Raul Castro steps down as president, ending his family's six-decade grip on power, and paving the way for a younger leader. But analysts say his replacement, expected to be 57-year-old Miguel Diaz-Canel -- currently Cuba's first vice president -- won't quite be alone at the helm of the communist island. © Jorge Beltran/AFP/Getty Images Cuban President Raul Castro (L) and First Vice president Miguel Diaz-Canel talking during the Permanent Working Committees of the National Assembly of the People's Power. Cuba is preparing for the end of an era next week when Raul Castro steps down as president, ending his family's six-decade grip on power, and paving the way for a younger leader. But analysts say his replacement, expected to be 57-year-old Miguel Diaz-Canel -- currently Cuba's first vice president -- won't quite be alone at the helm of the communist island. Cuba is set to undergo a historic shift this week, elevating a relatively unknown Communist Party official to replace retiring President Raúl Castro.

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Who is Miguel Díaz - Canel , the man expected to succeed Raúl Castro? Cuban President Raul Castro points out as he talks to First Vice President Miguel Diaz Canel while watching May Day march in Havana on May 1, 2016.Sven Creutzmann / Getty Images file.

Cuba ' s First Vice- President Miguel Diaz - Canel stands in line before casting his vote during an election of candidates for the national and provincial assemblies, in But he is also a long-time Communist Party apparatchik who is not expected to push for sweeping political change. Diaz - Canel is set to be

But who is Miguel Díaz-Canel? And what does his ascension to the top of Cuba's government mean for a country that has been run by the Castro brothers for nearly 60 years?

Little is known about the 57-year-old heir apparent who is expected to lead Cuba in a post-Castro world. He has not granted interviews to foreign media, and the state-run newspapers in Cuba have only shared snippets of his travels inside of Cuba and abroad.

Christopher Sabatini, a lecturer of international relations and policy who has studied Cuba, said the shroud of mystery surrounding Díaz-Canel is by design. The Cuban regime, he said, has carefully presented a profile of a man who is a staunch communist, but one in touch with Cuba's younger generation as it transitions away from Castro's contemporaries. 

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Cuba ’ s next president could be hemmed in from multiple sides. [ Cuba ’ s New President , Miguel Díaz - Canel Bermúdez: Loyal Servant of a Revolution He Didn’t Fight]. “ Díaz - Canel is one of those people who has risen through the ranks because he represents the prevailing view within the party

Miguel Díaz - Canel was officially named as the new leader of Cuba on Thursday, one day after a secret vote in the country' s National Assembly.

"He likes the Rolling Stones. He likes the Beatles. He has an iPad. We hear that repeated over and over," Sabatini said. "That to me smacks of a well-managed (public relations) campaign."

Starting this week, Díaz-Canel will carry the weight of the presidency at a time when relations with the U.S. are becoming more antagonistic and Cuba's main economic lifeline, Venezuela, is cratering.

Here are four things we do know about the future leader.

Communist Party leader

After graduating from college in the central city of Santa Clara, Díaz-Canel performed his three years of obligatory military service and jumped right into party politics.

In 1987, he joined the Young Communists' Union and started rising through the ranks. By 1994, he was named first party secretary in Villa Clara province. Neighbors say he didn't move to the larger homes provided by the government to people in that position.

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Miguel Díaz - Canel was chosen Thursday as Cuba ' s new president . The question is whether he will emerge from the shadow of Raúl Castro, who will remain as Communist Party Now Díaz - Canel is the man Cuba ' s National Assembly has selected as the new president and the face of the island's future.

"He didn't even fix up his house to live more comfortably," Roberto Suarez Tagle, 78, a neighbor, told the Associated Press. "He always found out about the real problems that people had."

In 2003, he was named first secretary of the more populous province of Holguin in eastern Cuba, and was also named to the Communist Party's Politburo, one of its highest decision-making bodies.

In 2013, Castro named Díaz-Canel first vice president of the Council of State, placing him in line to replace Castro.

Minister of Education

Díaz-Canel maintained a separate career track throughout his time in politics.

After finishing his military service, he worked as an engineering professor at the University of Santa Clara. Years later, he was named Cuba's minister of education.

Cuban media fawned over his approach to that role, boasting that he was one of the first high-ranking government officials to bring a laptop to government meetings, and pushing for more technology in Cuba's under-funded classrooms.

Cuba's state-run newspaper, Granma, routinely publishes stories of Díaz-Canel's visits to schools around the country. During a visit to schools in Santiago de Cuba, where the remains of Fidel Castro were interred in 2016, Díaz-Canel called on teachers to carry on one of Castro's legacies by ensuring that free education endured.

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Cuba ' s National Assembly announced Thursday that First Vice President Miguel Diaz - Canel , 57, will replace Castro embraced Diaz - Canel -- who wasn't even born when Fidel Castro led his revolution in 1959 -- during the session Wednesday, all but sealing his status as the island' s next president .

More: Cuba ' s next president : Who is Miguel Díaz - Canel ? More: Raúl Castro: 5 things to know about departing Cuba president . Díaz - Canel is responsible for resolving Cuba ' s anemic economy and restless population by depending more on countries such as Russia, China, Iran and Venezuela.

"If we took the oath that Fidel would always be with us...this work must become a bulwark, so that in the process of training young people, they are able to channel our comandante both in their sentiments and daily actions," he said, according to Granma.

Raising his profile

Would-be successors to the Castro brothers have come and gone, but the Cuban regime has been easing Díaz-Canel into more prominent roles in recent years.

According to state media, he has hosted meetings in Cuba with leaders of Mexico, Spain, Germany, India, Pakistan, El Salvador, South Africa, Portugal, the United Arab Emirates, the Vatican, and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

He has also led government delegations to Russia, China, Japan, North Korea, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Angola, Bolivia, and the 2016 Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States.

In recent years, Cuban reporters have chronicled his trips around the island as he visited schools, business centers, manufacturing plants and sugar mills. 

True Believer

The few times he's spoken publicly, Díaz-Canel has made clear that he's a true believer in the Marxist-Leninist ideology that formed the basis of the Castro revolution. He's also fully embraced the island's suspicion of the Yankees to the north.

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In a speech in October, he blasted the United States for its insistence that Cuba move toward a more democratic government.

"Imperialism can never be trusted, not even a tiny bit, never," he said, echoing the words of Ernesto "Che" Guevara on the 50th anniversary of his death.

His most extensive comments came in a video that was leaked and posted on YouTube by Cuban dissident Antonio Rodiles last year. In the video, Díaz-Canel said the embassies of the U.S., Norway, Spain, Germany and Britain were supporting "subversive activity" on the island. And he vowed to crack down on dissidents and independent media, who he said were being paid by foreign actors trying to foment dissent.

"We will shut it down," Díaz-Canel said of one website. "Let the scandal ensure. Let them say we censor. Everyone censors here."

Such comments, Sabatini said, show that the public image the Cubans are trying to put forth masks the reality that Díaz-Canel will act no differently than his hard-line predecessors.

"There's no reason to believe otherwise," Sabatini said. "He wouldn't have made it this far if he wasn't."

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