Cuba Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel, tipped to succeed President Raul Castro, accused the US yesterday of “resuming a Cold War rhetoric” and of “attacking” the Cuban revolution. Diaz-Canel spoke to state television after casting his vote in elections for a parliament that will choose Castro’s successor on April 19.
“The revolution is being attacked in the middle of a situation which has been deteriorating,” he said, adding that Havana’s relations with Washington had stopped improving under “an administration that has offended Cuba.”
Diaz-Canel did not mention the name of US President Donald Trump, whose administration has tightened business and travel restrictions on Cuba after relations thawed under Barack Obama.
“I am sure that, sooner rather than later, we will defeat the imperialist plans,” the vice president said, vowing that Cuba would also break through the US economic embargo.
More than 8 million Cubans were called on to ratify the selection of 605 members of the National Assembly, all of whom were pre-selected by a national commission on the basis of proposals made by municipal and other nominating assemblies.
Some 548 of the candidates are members of the ruling Communist Party, while the rest have been screened by party officials.
In the unlikely event that some of the candidates do not get more than 50% of the vote, a second round of voting will take place. In addition to the National Assembly, Cubans were electing 1,265 delegates to 15 provincial assemblies.
The new parliament will convene on April 19 to elect a successor to Castro, 86.
The successor is widely expected to be Diaz-Canel, an engineer who climbed up the ladder of the Communist Party and served as education minister. The 57-year-old would be Cuba’s first president not to belong to the Castro family since the 1959 revolution, after which Raul Castro’s older brother Fidel took power.
Raul took over provisionally when Fidel’s health deteriorated in 2006 and became president in 2008. Fidel Castro died eight years later at age 90. Despite belonging to a post-revolution generation, Diaz-Canel is not expected to introduce far-reaching reforms. Not only is he known as an advocate for continuity, but he could be limited by the presence of Castro, who will head the Communist Party until at least its next congress in 2021.