Cuba Marks End Of Castro’s Era, Diaz-Canel Emerges President

Cuba Marks End Of Castro's Era, Diaz-Canel Emerges President
Outgoing Cuban President Raul Castro (R) raises the arm of Cuba’s new President Miguel Diaz-Canel after he was formally named by the National Assembly, in Havana on April 19, 2018.
Photo: Adalberto ROQUE / AFP

 

Cuba marked the end of an era Thursday as Miguel Diaz-Canel was formally elected as the country’s new president, succeeding Raul Castro and becoming the first non-Castro to lead the island in six decades.

The silver-haired Diaz-Canel — a top Communist Party figure who has served as first vice president since 2013 — is the island’s first leader born after the 1959 revolution.

Diaz-Canel was elected in a landmark vote of the National Assembly a day before his 58th birthday.

The chamber erupted into applause as the results were read out, with many of the delegates smiling, and shaking hands warmly with Castro and Diaz-Canel.

As Diaz-Canel walked to the front of the chamber, he high-fived the front line of delegates, embracing Castro as he took to the stage, images broadcast on state television showed.

Then the 86-year-old Castro raised his successor’s arm in the air in victory, prompting another wave of applause from the delegates — some were in their shirt sleeves, while others wore military fatigues.

Between them, father of the nation Fidel and his younger brother Raul made the Caribbean island a key player in the Cold War and helped keep communism afloat despite the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Raul has been in power since 2006, when he took over after illness sidelined Fidel, who seized power in the revolution.

Diaz-Canel, who has spent years climbing the party ranks, was named the sole candidate for the presidency on Wednesday.

Thursday’s symbolic vote took place on the anniversary of the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion, when Fidel’s forces defeated 1,400 US-backed rebels seeking to overthrow him.

Havana has long hailed the showdown as American imperialism’s first great defeat in Latin America.

In Raul’s footsteps 

Diaz-Canel, who some say bears a passing resemblance to American actor Richard Gere, is a fan of The Beatles whose penchant for wearing jeans has set him apart in Havana’s corridors of power.

Although he has advocated fewer restrictions on the press and a greater openness to the internet, he also has a ruthless streak, with harsh words for Cuba’s dissidents and the United States.

Crucially, he will remain under the watchful eye of Castro, who will continue to serve as the head of Cuba’s all-powerful Communist Party.

Once sworn in, Diaz-Canel will be tasked with pursuing reforms begun by Castro to open up Cuba’s economy to small private entrepreneurs and reach a rapprochement with its Cold War arch-enemy, the United States.

In 2015, Havana and Washington renewed diplomatic ties, with then president Barack Obama making a historic visit to the island a year later.

But, steps towards a normalization of ties have been severely curtailed since Donald Trump arrived in the White House last year.

Diaz-Canel will also inherit a youthful population hungry for change on the Caribbean island — one of the world’s last outposts of Communism since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Cuba watchers and domestic analysts say he will favor continuity over change in the early days of his presidency, however.

AFP

Fidel Castro’s Eldest Son Commits Suicide

Fidel Castro's Eldest Son Commits Suicide
File photo (taken on June 1, 2016) of Cuban Fidel Castro Diaz-Balart, son of Cuban leader Fidel Castro. ADALBERTO ROQUE / AFP

 

The popular eldest son of the late Cuban president Fidel Castro committed suicide on Thursday, state media reported. He was 68 years old.

“Fidel Castro Diaz-Balart, who had been treated by a group of doctors for several months due to deep depression, took his life this morning,” Cuba’s official newspaper Granma reported.

“Fidelito” — as he was known on Caribbean island nation — had initially been hospitalised for his condition and then continued with outpatient follow-ups.

Born on September 1, 1949, he was the son of the revolutionary Castro’s first marriage to Mirta Diaz-Balart.

The younger Castro was very popular in Cuba even though he never held a political position. He bore a strong resemblance to his father: both were tall and had bushy beards.

Many Cubans remember him as a little boy dressed in an olive drab military uniform, accompanying his father on January 8, 1959, as he entered Havana triumphantly after the revolution.

The younger Castro was always faithful to his father’s communist ideals.

His death came 15 months after that of his father at the age of 90.

At that funeral, Castro was seen standing alongside five half-siblings that his father had with another woman, Dalia Soto del Valle.

A scientist who studied physics in the former Soviet Union, Fidel Jr helped usher in the development of a nuclear power program in the Communist-ruled country.

At the time of his death, he had served as a scientific adviser to the Cuban government and was vice president of the country’s Academy of Sciences.

In his most recent public appearances, Castro gave lectures on nanoscience, in which he specialised.

Funeral arrangements will be made by the family, state media said.

AFP

President Buhari Advised Against Foreign Loans

President Buhari Advised Against Foreign LoansThe World Vice President of Global Industrial Union who is also the former National Vice President of the Nigerian Labour Congress, Issa Aremu has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to heed late Fidel Castro’s advice on the danger of indiscriminate foreign loans and credits.

Fidel Castro, is the iconic Cuban revolutionary leader who presided over the Republic of Cuba as Prime Minister from 1959 to 1976 and then as President from 1976 to 2008.

He died on Friday November 25, 2016 in Havana, Cuba at the age of 90.

Aremu made the call in Ilorin, the Kwara state capital during a press conference on the death of the former Cuban leader and the need for Nigerian leaders to emulate his exemplary leadership style.

“His death is a shock coming just few months after the global progressive forces including the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Industrial Global Union marked his 90th birthday.

“Fidel Castro had long in his decade-long battle of developmental ideas made a case for self-reliance. He had compared the debt burden to that torment in Greek mythology in which a man is doomed to push a large stone uphill for all eternity, a stone that always rolls down again before reaching the top. Debtors, he maintained ‘don’t need new loans’.

“Fidel has since been proven right that most debts were unpayable and uncollectible.

“We must credit the series of debt cancellation of the two decades to audacious alternative views of Fidel Castro, not the astuteness of “negotiators” and so called altruism of creditors.

“President Buhari should emulate the selfless leadership of Fidel Castro because no country can develop through loans and credit. He must work his talk, if he is truly paying tribute to Castro and must withdraw his application for loan to the National Assembly.

“Buhari should not take us back to indebtedness and should be selfless. Buhari and his cabinet members should set example by using the state house hospital,” Aremu said.

The labour leader also berated what he called the western media’s posthumous distortion of history which presented Fidel as a rebel and strong man who with iron hands muzzled the people of Cuban Island.

He called on African leaders to ‎know their history and remember Castro’s contribution to Africa.

‎He also called on Nigerian leaders from federal to state level to emulated Castro’s selfless nature, especially the two-termed state governors, to stop collecting outrageous pensions allocated to them by the state house of assembly.

‎According to him, “the outrageous pension given to two-term governors call for concern because they are under-developing states.

“Comrade Adams Oshiomole as a comrade governor, with his remarkable achievements having beaten other governors, should not join them because the money is unnecessary.

“If he does so, it will amount to the saying that ‘if you can’t beat them, you join them’ but he has beaten them with his achievements as governor.

“State houses of assembly should make laws for public good not for executive benefit‎. The danger of the pension law is that it is now getting addictive and spreading like wild fire to other states of the federation and to me it is pure legal robbing.”

Former Cuban Leader Fidel Castro Dies At 90

castroThe Cuban revolutionary leader who built a communist state on the doorstep of the United States, Fidel Castro, has died, his younger brother announced on Friday.

The leader, who for five decades defied U.S. efforts to topple him, died at 90.

A towering figure of the second half of the 20th Century, Castro stayed true to his ideology beyond the collapse of Soviet communism, and retained an aura in parts of the world that had struggled against colonial rule and exploitation.

He had been in poor health since an intestinal ailment nearly killed him in 2006. He formally ceded power to his younger brother two years later.

Wearing a green military uniform, Cuba’s President Raul Castro appeared on state television to announce his brother’s death.

“At 10.29 at night, the chief commander of the Cuban revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz, died,” he said, without giving a cause of death.

“Ever onward, to victory,” he said, using the slogan of the Cuban revolution.

Reuters reports that tributes poured in from world leaders including Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Venezuela’s socialist President Nicolas Maduro, who said “revolutionaries of the world must follow his legacy.”

The streets were quiet in Havana, but some residents reacted with sadness to the news, while in Miami, where many exiles from the Communist government live, a large crowd waving Cuban flags cheered, danced and banged on pots and pans, a video on social media showed.

“I am very upset. Whatever you want to say, he is public figure that the whole world respected and loved,” said Havana student Sariel Valdespino.

Castro’s remains will be cremated, according to his wishes. His brother said details of his funeral would be given on Saturday.

The bearded Fidel Castro took power in a 1959 revolution and ruled Cuba for 49 years with a mix of charisma and iron will, creating a one-party state and becoming a central figure in the Cold War.

Barack Obama Makes Historic Visit To Cuba

Barack ObamaPresident Barack Obama has arrived for a three-day historic visit to Cuba and to hold talks with its communist leader.

This is the first time in several decades, a US President is visiting the island nation of Cuba.

He arrived in Cuba with his wife, Michelle Obama, his two daughters and his mother-in-law.

Mr Obama is the first sitting President of the United States to visit since the 1959 revolution, which heralded decades of hostility.

Speaking at the reopened US embassy in Havana, he called the visit “historic” as he also spent time in the old city.

During the historic visit, President Obama would meet Cuban President, Raul Castro, but not retired revolutionary leader, Fidel Castro, and the pair would discuss trade and political reform.

Pope Celebrates Mass In Cuba

popePope Francis is in the Cuban capital, Havana, where he has celebrated a mass in front of thousands of people.

Pope Francis, who is on a trip to Cuba and the US, has been credited with helping with the recent renewal of diplomatic ties between the two countries.

The Pope said that he was in Cuba to further strengthen those ties.

During his homily, he said that “Christians are constantly called to set aside their own wishes and desires, their pursuit of power, and to look instead to those who are most vulnerable”.

After the mass, Pope Francis met Fidel Castro at his house in Havana for about 30 minutes. The two men exchanged books as gifts.

However, dissidents shouting and attempting to distribute flyers at the edge of Revolution Square, were arrested by security forces.

Fidel Castro Chides U.S Ahead Of Embassy Reopening

castroAhead of the historic reopening of the U.S. Embassy in Cuba, former Cuban leader, Fidel Castro, has published an open letter to the nation in which he criticises American foreign and economic policies since World War Two.

The letter was published to mark Mr Castro’s 89th birthday.

He also accused the U.S. of owing Cuba millions of dollars.

The former leader said that the US owes Cuba money because of the trade embargo the U.S. imposed on the communist-run island in 1960.

Cuba says the embargo which it calls a blockade, is hugely damaging to its economy.

The U.S Embassy reopens in Havana on Friday, with the U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry attending.