The Castro Regime Finally Has an Expiration Date: 2018
OK, as with all things Castro, there's a Fidel-sized catch in the good news. Raúl Castro will still run the country for another five years. Miami's old-timers will have to hang on until 2018 to see a Castro-free Cuban regime.
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On Sunday, Raúl Castro was elected, as expected, to another five years as president by Cuba's rubber-stamp National Assembly. But he used the stage to announce the surprising news that it would be his last term.
Speaking to an audience that included Fidel Castro making a rare public appearance, Raúl announced a "gradual transformation" including handing top jobs over to "new generations."
Raúl even put an official stamp of sorts on the possible successor to the Castros: Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermúdez, a former minister of higher education announced as Raúl's top deputy.
In Cuba -- where time stopped in 1959 and an 81-year-old taking over top office was considered a coup for the youth movement -- those moves alone amount to a serious policy shift. But Raúl didn't stop there: He also announced plans to push for term limits for top leaders and an age cap for the presidency.
"[This] represents a definitive step in the configuration of the future leadership of the nation," Raúl Castro told the assembly.
What it actually amounts to is a typically sluggish directional shift by a pair of brothers who might not be alive in five years. The New York Times describes Raúl's speech as an "unsentimental goodbye" to government, but that farewell still has another five years left to play out.
As for Cuba's leader-in-waiting, Bermúdez is a "technocrat," the Times reports, known for his loyalty to the Castros and his skills as a top-level government manager. Translation: He'll continue Raúl's gradual reforms toward capitalism, but don't expect a free-market avalanche once the Castros head for Cuba's version of Century Village.