Diaz-Canel, 60, has already served as Cuba’s president since 2018, and now also takes the most powerful position, that of first secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC) as Castro, 89, enters retirement.
“Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez was elected first secretary of the central committee of the Communist Party of Cuba,” the PCC said on Twitter as the transfer of power was rubber-stamped on the fourth and final day of a party congress.
In his final address to the party last Friday, Castro affirmed a “willingness to conduct a respectful dialogue and build a new kind of relationship with the United States,” which has had sanctions against Cuba since 1962.
Fidel Castro, the young anti-Batista guerrilla leader, center, is seen with his brother Raul Castro, left, and Camilo Cienfuegos, while operating in the mountains of eastern Cuba, March 14, 1957. Fidel led his scruffy young guerrillas to an improbable victory in 1959, embraced Soviet-style communism and defied the power of 10 U.S. presidents, with Raul always at his side. (AP Photo/Andrew St. George)
But he stressed the country would not renounced “the principles of the revolution and socialism.”
The leadership change is not expected to yield any major policy shifts, and comes as Cuba battles its worst economic crisis in 30 years, sky-high inflation, biting food shortages, long lines for basic necessities and growing disgruntlement over limited freedoms.