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Historic Move: Cuba’s Raul Castro confirms he’s stepping down, says he’s ‘fulfilled his mission’ by Carmen Sesin and Orlando Matos

Cuba’s leadership is passing to a younger generation. Raul Castro, and before him, his brother Fidel, ruled the island for 60 years. Whether he remains in the Communist Party in a lesser capacity, or as an elder statesman, it is unlikely to mean his influence has ended.

Raul Castro confirmed Friday he is stepping down as the head of the Communist Party of Cuba, the most powerful position on the island. 

During a speech on the first day of the Communist Party’s eighth congress, he said he would hand over power to a younger generation that is “full of passion and anti-imperialist spirit.”

“I believe fervently in the strength and exemplary nature and comprehension of my compatriots, and as long as I live, I will be ready with my foot in the stirrups to defend the fatherland, the revolution and socialism,” Castro told party delegates at the closed-door meeting at a convention center in Havana. 

He was retiring, Castro said, with the sense of having “fulfilled his mission and confident in the future of the fatherland.”

Though there are few expectations of significant change among Cubans, it is however a historic move — Castro and his late brother, Fidel Castro, have been in power since the 1959 revolution.

Though Castro did not name his successor during the speech, it’s expected that a subsequent vote will ratify President Miguel Díaz-Canel as the next party secretary-general and set policy guidelines. 

Raul Castro had said in 2018 he expected Díaz-Canel to replace him after his retirement in 2021. Díaz-Canel, 60, represents a new generation and is serving the first of two five-year terms as president.

Many analysts believe Castro, who turns 90 in June, will continue to be the most influential figure on the island until his death.

In Cuba, major events are put together during historic celebrations and this year’s congress is no exception. It coincides with the 60th anniversary of the failed, CIA-backed Bay of Pigs invasion.

Raul Castro confirmed Friday he is stepping down as the head of the Communist Party of Cuba, the most powerful position on the island. 

During a speech on the first day of the Communist Party’s eighth congress, he said he would hand over power to a younger generation that is “full of passion and anti-imperialist spirit.”

“I believe fervently in the strength and exemplary nature and comprehension of my compatriots, and as long as I live, I will be ready with my foot in the stirrups to defend the fatherland, the revolution and socialism,” Castro told party delegates at the closed-door meeting at a convention center in Havana. 

He was retiring, Castro said, with the sense of having “fulfilled his mission and confident in the future of the fatherland.”

Though there are few expectations of significant change among Cubans, it is however a historic move — Castro and his late brother, Fidel Castro, have been in power since the 1959 revolution.

Though Castro did not name his successor during the speech, it’s expected that a subsequent vote will ratify President Miguel Díaz-Canel as the next party secretary-general and set policy guidelines. 

Raul Castro had said in 2018 he expected Díaz-Canel to replace him after his retirement in 2021. Díaz-Canel, 60, represents a new generation and is serving the first of two five-year terms as president.

Many analysts believe Castro, who turns 90 in June, will continue to be the most influential figure on the island until his death.

In Cuba, major events are put together during historic celebrations and this year’s congress is no exception. It coincides with the 60th anniversary of the failed, CIA-backed Bay of Pigs invasion.

Castro’s retirement comes as Cuba, one of the last communist run-countries in the world, is facing multiple challenges. Its economy shrank 11 percent in 2020 due to the pandemic, and it’s been grappling with tightened U.S. sanctions and a decline in aid from its ally, Venezuela. The government lacks hard currency to import food and medicine, which means endless lines outside stores when food becomes available, and one meal a day for some families. To read more go to the link below:

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/latino/cubas-raul-castro-confirms-stepping-head-communist-party-rcna689

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