Menus Subscribe Search

Our Guide Proves Prescient in Outlining Post-Castro Cuba

• February 25, 2013 • 12:09 PM

Journalist and respected Cuba watcher Ann Louise Bardach outlined a post-Castro world for our readers late last year in her piece “We’ll Always Have Fidel.” Her premise was that even as Fidel Castro faded from the scene, and his younger brother Raúl followed suit, that the dynasty would continue through the seeds – both genetic and ideological—that the brothers have planted and nurtured in the past half century.

Raúl Castro’s announcement that this new five-year term is his last, made at yesterday’s National Assembly conference with Fidel at his side, telegraphed that the change in power the Castros templated has begun. First on the agenda is naming a successor. That honor goes to Miguel Diaz-Canel, 52, who was named first vice-president of the Council of State and as such is the likely replacement caudillo for the 81-year-old Raúl.

“As predicted here in Pacific Standard,” Bardach wrote to us today, “Miguel Diaz-Canel, Raúl Castro’s favored Young Turk, has caught the bouquet. He is a bright, hard working technocrat—a trudger and plodder. I’m sure that Raúl identified with his willingness and ability to stay in the trenches and out of the limelight!

“But there remains HUGE PROBLEMS FOR CUBA—staggering debt, a dying Hugo Chávez (whose patronage keeps Cuba afloat), the unresolved issues regarding Alan Gross that prevents any rapprochement with the U.S. All this require a master politician and diplomat, while Diaz-Canel has both a significant charisma-deficit  problem and seemingly impossible shoes to fill.”

If that wasn’t enough, she adds, “remember that [octogenarian] Ramiro Valdes retains all his seats of power, and the Army remains the central organ of power.” Valdes, as keen readers will recall, has tangled with Raúl before, but was both rehabilitated and then used as the envoy to Chávez’s Venezuela.

While some outside Cuba are claiming to see these inevitable changes as portents of a gradual shift to democracy and perhaps capitalism, Raúl was having none of that. “I was not chosen to be president to restore capitalism to Cuba. I was elected to defend, maintain and continue to perfect socialism, not destroy it.”

Or as Bardach wrote months ago:

One thing is clear: there will be no dramatic transition from Castroismo to a market-based economy; but rather a painstakingly slow transformation through myriad small, measured reforms, just enough to ensure the survival of the island nation—and its ruling family.

And for an interactive graphic on who is who in Cuba today (and tomorrow), click here.

Michael Todd
Most of Michael Todd's career has been spent in newspaper journalism, ranging from papers in the Marshall Islands to tiny California farming communities. Before joining the publishing arm of the Miller-McCune Center, he was managing editor of the national magazine Hispanic Business.

More From Michael Todd

A weekly roundup of the best of Pacific Standard and PSmag.com, delivered straight to your inbox.

Recent Posts

July 22 • 4:00 PM

Can Meditation Really Slow Aging?

Is there real science in the spiritualism of meditation? Jo Marchant meets a Nobel Prize-winner who thinks so.



July 22 • 2:00 PM

The Alabama Judge Who Refuses to Let Desegregation Orders Go Ignored

A federal judge in Alabama says a local school board has failed to meet legal mandate to integrate.


July 22 • 12:00 PM

On the Destinations of Species

It’s almost always easier to cross international borders if you’re something other than human.


July 22 • 10:51 AM

The Link Between Carbs, Gut Microbes, and Colon Cancer

Reduced carb intake among mice protected them from colon cancer.


July 22 • 10:47 AM

Irrational Choice Theory: The LeBron James Migration From Miami to Cleveland

Return migrants to Cleveland have been coming home in large numbers for quite some time. It makes perfect sense.


July 22 • 9:32 AM

This Time, Scalia Was Right

President Obama’s recess appointments were wrong and, worse, dangerous.


July 22 • 8:00 AM

On Vegas Strip, Blackjack Rule Change Is Sleight of Hand

Casino operators are changing blackjack payouts to give the house an even greater advantage. Is this a sign that Vegas is on its way back from the recession, or that the Strip’s biggest players are trying to squeeze some more cash out of visitors before the well runs dry?


July 22 • 6:00 AM

Label Me Confused

How the words on a bag of food create more questions than answers.


July 22 • 5:07 AM

Doubly Victimized: The Shocking Prevalence of Violence Against Homeless Women

An especially vulnerable population is surveyed by researchers.


July 22 • 4:00 AM

New Evidence That Blacks Are Aging Faster Than Whites

A large study finds American blacks are, biologically, three years older than their white chronological counterparts.



July 21 • 4:00 PM

Do You Have to Learn How to Get High?

All drugs are socially constructed.


July 21 • 2:14 PM

The New Weapon Against Disease-Spreading Insects Is Big Data

Computer models that pinpoint the likely locations of mosquitoes and tsetse flies are helping officials target vector control efforts.


July 21 • 2:00 PM

Why Are Obstetricians Among the Top Billers for Group Psychotherapy in Illinois?

Illinois leads the country in group psychotherapy sessions in Medicare, and some top billers aren’t mental health specialists. The state’s Medicaid program has cracked down, but federal officials have not.



July 21 • 12:00 PM

What Makes You So Smart, MacArthur Genius?

Noah Davis talks to Yoky Matsuoka about youth tennis, wanting to be an airhead, and what it’s like to win a Genius Grant.


July 21 • 11:23 AM

People Are Clueless About Placebos

Doctors know that sometimes the best medicine is no medicine at all. But how do patients feel about getting duped into recovery?


July 21 • 10:00 AM

How Small-D Democratic Should Our Political Parties Be?

We need to decide how primaries should work in this country before they get completely out of hand and the voters are left out entirely.


July 21 • 8:00 AM

No, Walking on All 4 Limbs Is Not a Sign of Human ‘Devolution’

New quantitative analysis reveals that people with Uner Tan Syndrome don’t actually walk like primates at all.


July 21 • 6:00 AM

Sequenced in the U.S.A.: A Desperate Town Hands Over Its DNA

The new American economy in three tablespoons of blood, a Walmart gift card, and a former mill town’s DNA.


July 21 • 5:00 AM

Celebrating Independence: Scenes From 59 Days Around the World

While national identities are often used to separate people, a husband-and-wife Facebook photography project aims to build connections.


July 21 • 4:00 AM

Be a Better Person: Take a Walk in the Park

New research from France finds strangers are more helpful if they’ve just strolled through a natural environment.



July 18 • 4:00 PM

The Litany of Problems With the Pentagon’s Effort to Recover MIAs

A draft inspector general report found that the mission lacks basic metrics for how to do the job—and when to end it.


Follow us


Subscribe Now

The Link Between Carbs, Gut Microbes, and Colon Cancer

Reduced carb intake among mice protected them from colon cancer.

The New Weapon Against Disease-Spreading Insects Is Big Data

Computer models that pinpoint the likely locations of mosquitoes and tsetse flies are helping officials target vector control efforts.

People Are Clueless About Placebos

Doctors know that sometimes the best medicine is no medicine at all. But how do patients feel about getting duped into recovery?

No, Walking on All 4 Limbs Is Not a Sign of Human ‘Devolution’

New quantitative analysis reveals that people with Uner Tan Syndrome don't actually walk like primates at all.

Why Didn’t California’s Handheld Phone Ban Reduce Motor Accidents?

Are handheld cell phones as dangerous as they have been made out to be?

The Big One

Today, the United States produces less than two percent of the clothing purchased by Americans. In 1990, it produced nearly 50 percent. July/August 2014

Copyright © 2014 by Pacific Standard and The Miller-McCune Center for Research, Media, and Public Policy. All Rights Reserved.