INTERNATIONAL.- Cuban President Miguel DiazCanel has received his Venezuelan counterpart Nicolas Maduro in his first official act as the country’s leader. Maduro is the first president to visit Diaz-Canel since he was selected by outgoing President Raul Castro to lead the island’s government earlier this week.
The Associated Press was told that Castro did not attend a welcome ceremony for the Venezuelan president at the Palace of the Revolution on Saturday. Venezuelan first lady Cilia Flores and Cuban first lady Lis Cuesta were both in attendance.
Venezuela, Cuba’s key ally, in essence trades oil for Cuban doctors and technicians who work in public health in the South American country.
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Miguel Diaz-Canel has been the presumptive next president of Cuba since 2013, when Raul Castro named the laconic former provincial official to the important post of first vice president and lauded him as “neither a novice nor an improviser,” high praise in a system dedicated to continuity over all.
Castro said nothing about how a young civilian from outside his family could lead the socialist nation that he and his older brother Fidel created from scratch and ruled with total control for nearly 60 years.
Exiles in Miami said DiazCanel would be a figurehead for continued Castro dominance. Cubans on the island speculated about a weak president sharing power with the head of the communist party, or maybe a newly created post of prime minister. No one who knew was talking. And no one who was talking knew.