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Raúl Castro Prepares to Resign as Cuba’s President, Closing a Dynasty

Beyond that, Cuba’s next president will be hemmed in from multiple sides: Raúl Castro is expected to remain the head of the Communist Party, and the diplomatic opening with the United States has closed abruptly under President Trump.

“There is nothing in his résumé to suggest he is going to take risks,” Theodore Piccone, a Cuba scholar at the Brookings Institution, said of Mr. Díaz-Canel. “But that is the way the system works — anyone willing to take the risk before now would not be in line to be the president.”

Mr. Castro is leaving office at a time of tremendous change on the island, both real and promised.

In just the last decade, Cuba has lost its defining leader, Fidel Castro, which made way for Raúl to take unprecedented steps to loosen the state’s grip on the economy and begin to nurture a private sector.

Then, two years ago, the nation brokered a détente with the United States, paving the way for the reopening of the American Embassy and the first visit of a sitting United States president in 88 years.

But change is often a managed affair in Cuba, orchestrated to maintain order while leaving little to chance or, especially, political uncertainty. While historic, the economic changes in Cuba have been halting, to the frustration of many Cubans hoping for better pay and more opportunity. So, too, has foreign investment, with leaders leery that it could grow to the point that they can no longer control it.

Now, the country’s next president will face a new set of challenges. Since coming to office, Mr. Trump has lashed out at Cuba and reversed, in spirit if not entirely in deed, the new relationship that President Barack Obama established with the Cuban government.

As Cuba seeks to modernize its moribund economy with a new generation of leaders less tethered to the past, the United States appears to be moving back toward a policy of isolation. Fewer American tourists are visiting Cuba and bringing dollars with them, in no small part because of Mr. Trump’s decision to undo some of Mr. Obama’s easing of restrictions on travel to the island.

And then there are the mysterious ailments that affected a group of American diplomats stationed in Havana. American officials say they were attacked by unidentified devices that damaged their hearing. In response, the United States issued a travel warning to its citizens and reduced the size of its embassy staff by two-thirds. For now, there is no office in Cuba that can issue visas for Cubans seeking to visit family members in the United States.

Source: NYT > World

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