Cuban dictator Raul Castro said on Friday he was resigning, paving the way for Cubans who were not ruled by a Castro for the first time in six decades.
Although he did not say who would succeed him as first secretary of the Communist Party, he would have preferred Miguel Diaz-Canel, 60, who succeeded him as president in 2018.
His brother Fidel ruled the small nation starting with the 1959 revolution and ending in April 2011 when Raul took his place.
News of young Castro’s potential departure surfaced on Thursday. He made the announcement on Friday in a speech at the opening of the ruling party’s eighth congress, the only one allowed on the island.
RAUL CASTRO LEAVES THE CUBAN PRESIDENCY, NOT THE POWER
He said he was retiring with the feeling of having “fulfilled his mission and confident in the future of the motherland”.
His resignation comes at a time of turmoil in the country and potentially more open relations with its superpowered neighbor, the United States.
The coronavirus pandemic, painful financial reforms and restrictions imposed by the Trump administration have hit the economy, which shrank 11% last year following a collapse in tourism and remittances. Long queues and food shortages brought back echoes of the “special period” following the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s.
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Towards the end of former President Trump’s tenure, his administration imposed additional sanctions on the country and called it a state sponsor of terrorism.
“We are convinced that President Biden and his team fully know and recognize that Cuba is not and has not been a sponsor of terrorism,” said Carlos Fernández de Cossío, director general of the Department of States at the time. -United with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cuba.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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