The second most famous Castro brother announced earlier this month that in 2018 he will step down from the presidency. This decision comes four years after Raul first announced that his second presidential term would be his last in office.
Raul succeeded his brother Fidel Castro to the presidency in 2008. The Castro family has been in power since their political party won Cuba’s revolution in 1959, which means that the majority of Cuban lawmakers don’t remember a time when the Castros haven’t been in power. There are no official rules and limitations for how long a person can serve as president in Cuba, but Raul Castro has been vocal about his belief that no one person should be president for more than two, five-year terms.
As a result, Raul is staying true to his word. He will be 86 by the time he retires; his brother Fidel was 81 when he stepped down in 2008. Compare this to the average age of retirement in the United States, which holds steady at 63-years-old.
Of course, retirement isn’t the only differing factor between the United States and Cuba. Ever since Cuba’s communist revolution, the two countries have sparred over the differing economic and social systems put in place under Fidel Castro. However, relations have thawed in recent years, and Raul has created a different landscape for the isolated island country.
While Raul has ushered in a new era of Cuban history, he has always served in his brother’s shadow. Fidel Castro is infamously known around the world for establishing a Communist regime that was formed on collective economic production. But once Raul took office, he started transforming the system.
According to CNBC, in 2011 his party pushed through a 300-point plan that aimed at changing their current collective production economic system into one that focuses on individual effort and reward. Additionally, Raul Castro has added a universal subsidy and tax code program to small businesses, a welfare program, and has encouraged the development of minor manufacturing and retail opportunities.
In his statement, Raul explained that he wouldn’t feel comfortable stepping down if his version of the U.S. Presidential Cabinet, the Cuban Council of State, wasn’t so diverse. It boasts 31 members, 41.9% being women and 38.6% being black or of mixed race. Plus, he added that a full 61% of the council members were born after the Cuban Revolution, which gives them the ability to usher in a new way of thinking in the future.
In light of Raul’s decision to step down, Miguel Diaz-Canel was appointed as first vice president and will be the delegate to take over the country in case Castro cannot finish his second term completely.
Image Source: Presidential Executive Office Russia