Menus Subscribe Search

Follow us


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

Tags: ,

If you would like to comment on this post, or anything else on Pacific Standard, visit our Facebook or Google+ page, or send us a message on Twitter. You can also follow our regular updates and other stories on both LinkedIn and Tumblr.

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

Follow us


Subscribe Now

Quick Studies

When a Romance Is Threatened, People Rebound With God

And when they feel God might reject them, they buddy up to their partner.

How Can We Protect Open Ocean That Does Not Yet Exist?

As global warming melts ice and ushers in a wave of commercial activity in the Arctic, scientists are thinking about how to protect environments of the future.

What Kind of Beat Makes You Want to Groove?

The science behind the rhythms that get you on the dance floor.

Pollution’s Racial Divides

When it comes to the injustice of air pollution, the divide between blacks and whites is greater than the gap between the rich and the poor.

Hunger and Low Blood Sugar Can Spur Domestic Quarrels

In an experiment, scientists found a correlation between low blood glucose and higher levels of spousal frustration.

The Big One

One state—Pennsylvania—logs 52 percent of all sales, shipments, and receipts for the chocolate manufacturing industry. March/April 2014