Raul inherited power after his brother Fidel Castro fell ill in 2006. Fidel retired from politics and given up all official positions apart from the role of deputy in the National Assembly due to his ailing health.
Raul Castro began a new five year term this week, but has said that he will not seek another term in office when the five years are completed in 2018. He also announced the appointment of 52 year old Miguel Diaz-Canel as First Vice President. This means that Mr Diaz-Canel will take control of the country if President Castro is unable to fulfil his duties, and makes him a strong favourite as a successor to the Castro legacy.
Speaking to the National Assembly President Castro said that the country’s was a moment of “historic transcendence”, and lauded Mr Diaz-Canel’s appointment as “a definitive step in the configuration of the future leadership of the nation through the gradual and orderly transfer of key roles to new generations”.
Cuba has moved away from strict communist rule since Raul Castro took power from his elder brother Fidel. Economic reforms and social changes have expanded the opportunities for private enterprise and foreign travel for Cuban citizens. But the President made it clear during his speech that this reform was not leading towards the end of “socialism” in Cuba.
“Our greatest satisfaction is the tranquility and serene confidence we feel as we deliver to the new generations the responsibility to continue building socialism,” he said.