Havana (April 20, 2018): Cuba’s new president, Miguel Diaz-Canel, began his term on Thursday with a promise to defend the socialist revolution led by the Castro brothers since 1959, giving a sober speech that also emphasized the need to modernize the island’s economy.
A stalwart of the ruling Communist Party, Diaz-Canel was sworn in to replace Raul Castro by the National Assembly in a carefully managed new chapter for the Caribbean island, aimed at preserving the political system.“The mandate given by the people to this house is to give continuity to the Cuban revolution in a crucial historic moment,” Diaz-Canel, 57, told the assembly in his first speech as president.
He delivered a warm homage to 86-year-old Raul Castro, who took office a decade ago as his brother Fidel Castro’s health deteriorated. Fidel Castro died in 2016.Diaz-Canel, praising the reforms he ushered in as president, said Castro would remain the leader of the revolution and would be involved in major decisions.
Stepping to the podium for a 90-minute-long parting speech, a relaxed-looking Castro gave the impression he would not quickly fade from sight. He sharply criticized US foreign, trade and immigration policy under President Donald Trump.
“Since the current president arrived in office, there has been a deliberate reversal in the relations between Cuba and the United States, and an aggressive and threatening tone prevails,” Castro said.