Castro Declines to Name Successor

February 20, 2008 03:03 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Fidel Castro has not endorsed his brother Raul’s succession to the presidency, leaving many to wonder whether Fidel’s era is really over.

30-Second Summary

Analysts agree that Raul Castro is the candidate most likely to succeed his brother. But on Tuesday, when Fidel Castro announced his retirement in the country’s official Communist Party newspaper, Granma, an endorsement of Raul’s accession was notably absent.

Some commentators have interpreted Fidel’s failure to anoint his younger brother, or anyone else, as his political heir as a sign that the Comandante is not yet prepared to give up power.

In an op-ed in The Australian, Luis Garcia writes that the 81-year-old leader has not surrendered any authority and will continue to rule from behind the scenes. His outgoing message, which was sparse on details, is a typical example of how he has managed to hold onto power for half a century “by keeping everyone guessing,” Garcia argues.

According to U.K. newspaper The Daily Telegraph, that opinion was echoed by the subdued reaction of Cuban expatriates to the news of Castro’s retirement.

Alex Massie of the The Scotsman is equally pessimistic about the difference Castro’s retirement will make in Cuba. Massie writes that change is unlikely to come from within the island nation despite Raul’s flirtations with reform.

Human Rights Watch expressed similar misgivings, saying that despite his reformist rhetoric, Raul has done little to relax Cuba’s repressive regime.

Nonetheless, both The Washington Post and Time magazine write that if Raul becomes Cuba’s next leader, he will probably tolerate some criticism of the government and will be open to economic reforms.

However, Time adds that the new president will not be able to push through any significant changes while Fidel is still alive.

Headline Links: Castro fails to name successor

Reaction: Across the globe

Opinion & Analysis: Out with Castro, in with Castro?

Key Player: Raul Castro (1931–)


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