Havana, Cuba.- Raul Castro said Thursday that he expected 57-year-old Miguel Mario Diaz-Canel Bermudez to serve two five-year terms as president and eventually take Castro’s place as head of the Communist Party, potentially dominating Cuban politics until 2031.
It was the first time Castro has laid out a clear vision for the nation’s power structure after his retirement or death, a vision in which Diaz-Canel is Castro’s true successor as total leader of Cuba.
Castro left the presidency Thursday after 12 years in office when the National Assembly approved Diaz-Canel’s nomination as the candidate for the top government position. Diaz-Canel told the nation that Castro, 86, would remain the country’s ultimate authority as head of the Communist Party.
Speaking after Diaz-Canel, Castro said he expected the younger man to become first secretary of the party after Castro retires from the position in 2021. “From that point on, I will be just another soldier defending this revolution,” Castro said.
He said Cuba was, as always, prepared to negotiate with the United States but unwilling to cede to any of Washington’s demands for internal change.