A New President in Cuba

Cuba swearing in new president today to succeed Raul Castro

"The people have given this assembly the mandate to provide continuity to the Cuban Revolution during a crucial, historic moment that will be defined by all that we achieve in the advance of the modernization of our social and economic model", Diaz-Canel said.

As he walked to the front of the chamber, Diaz-Canel high-fived the front row of delegates and embraced Castro as he took the stage.

"The United States has no expectation that the Cuban people will see any greater freedoms under Castro's handpicked successor", the official said after the Miguel Diaz-Canel was sworn in to replace Raul Castro as president. "It's the communist, authoritarian, totalitarian regime". He said there would be no compromise in Cuba's foreign policy but in a repetition of a long-held stance by Havana, he said he would hold dialogue with anybody who treated Cuba as an equal.

Cuba now has two currencies - one connected to the US dollar and another, less valuable, national Cuban peso. The evening newscast played black-and-white footage of Castro as a young revolutionary, with the soundtrack of "The Last Mambi" a song that bids farewell to Castro as a public figure and was written by Raul Torres, a singer who composed a similar homage to Fidel Castro after the revolutionary leader's death in 2016. "This of course is significant in that he is following some 60 years of charismatic leadership".

Earlier this week, U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla., talked to Jackie Nespral from NBC 6 on the issue. "We are very far from having a democratic Cuba".

Addressing the parliament on Thursday, Diaz-Canel lauded his predecessor Raul Castro. "Do you see this as an opportunity, perhaps, for change - more change - coming out of Cuba?". Still, he says, "sometimes a cosmetic change becomes real". "I'd like to have more opportunity, to buy a vehicle, and have a few possessions".

Diaz Canel has served as the first vice president of Cuba since 2013, and he was was hand picked by Raul Castro who stepped down as leader, brother of the late dictator Fidel Castro. "I think that's definitely the sense in the population".

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"But what we do need is for the United States and the rest of the world to stand in solidarity with the Cuban people".

Raul Castro is stepping down from Cuba's presidency, but he isn't giving up power.

Alana Tummino leads the Cuba Working Group at the Americas Society. American diplomats have, for many years, been the closest allies and friends - sometimes the only friends - that these courageous men and women have.

"In the hearings in Washington D.C., Mike Pompeo was asked specifically about Cuba - if he would continue the relationship between the US and Cuba, and if he would like more trade to be going on between both countries, and he said that is something he would definitely look into", Nespral said. Americans are no longer allowed to do business with over 180 entities, which are believed to be "under the control of, or acting for or on behalf of, the Cuban military, intelligence, or security services or personnel with which direct financial transactions would disproportionately benefit such services or personnel at the expense of the Cuban people or private enterprise in Cuba".

The 57-year-old president says the country's leadership can not forget "for a second" its commitment to the people of Cuba.

Raul Castro, 86, will retain considerable power as he will remain head of the Communist Party until a congress in 2021. "The important matter is that the Cuban people will be free, and I will continue to stand with them". Today's designation of a new Dorticós is a nothingburger.

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