Raul Castro confirmed last Friday, April 16, he will be stepping down as the head of the Communist Party of Cuba, the most powerful position in the country, after 10 years of fulfilling the role. The decision left Cubans and the world questioning what the next step for the controversial party is.
“I believe in the strength and exemplary nature and comprehension of my patriots, and as long as I live, I will be ready with my foot in the stirrups to defend the fatherland, the revolution, and socialism,” Castro said, according to CNBC, at a closed-door meeting with party delegates in Havana.
Raul and Fidel Castro first took the power of Cuba in the late 50s, with communist promises of equality and public ownership and communal control of the major means of production and natural resources of the country, such as mines, mills, and factories. Around 60 years later, Cuba ranks amongst the poorest nations in the world. At the same time, the US embargo- which deprived the nation of access to American products and caused a shortage in food and resources- and Cuba’s dependencies on allies remain an issue for the Caribbean island.
Adding to that, the COVID-19 pandemic presents itself as a pressing issue, with spikes in cases and deaths which have led to increasingly strict lockdowns.
Castro expressed his plans to leave power to the youth as he finally stepped down from his position of power. During a speech at the Cuban Communist Party congress, Castro, 89, mentioned that he is passing down the power to a generation of loyalists with decades of experience and were “full of passion and anti-imperialist spirit.”
Hopefully, this new development will mark the end of Castrismo, an era that brought so much suffering to the people, not only of Cuba but also of allies such as Venezuela. Economic reform is extremely necessary for the country, and it seems that by Castro stepping down, such efforts will be speeding up.
“Now they [the new generation] will be forced to make important reforms because their legitimacy doesn’t come from a revolutionary background, but from being capable of showing better performance.” Arturo Lopez-Levy, a professor at Holy Names University in California, said.
Although it is still early to say what the effect of Castro stepping down will be, it is evident (from his plan on giving power to people with his same beliefs) that the country will remain under a Leninist system. It might be the end of Castrismo, however, it is not the end of communism. While the light of freedom seems to be gleaming on the nation, the country must adopt a whole new system in order to catch up to the progress of the 21st century.