Human Rights in Cuba

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‘There are several people with qualities’ to replace Raúl Castro, says
the Cuban leader’s daughter
BY NORA GÁMEZ TORRES

The succession of Cuban ruler Raúl Castro may be less clear than
previously thought.

Recent remarks by Mariela Castro Espín suggest that there is more than
one candidate to replace her father, who has publicly stated that his
tenure as president of the State and Ministers’ councils would end in 2018.

“Who do I want for the future of the country? I have no idea. In all
[the candidates] I look at, I see virtues and defects, including in my
father,” Mariela Castro told students at the of Havana’s
of Communication on Friday afternoon.

“The people have to decide. I do not have a preferred candidate but
there are several people with qualities. I’m not going to say anything
yet, I’m observing,” she said, according to a story published in Cubanet.

El Nuevo Herald was not able to independently verify the statements.
However, a Twitter account tied to the School of Communication, which
was reporting on Castro’s visit to the university, posted and then
deleted the following Tweet in Spanish: “@CastroEspinM in @fcomUH:
Managing a country is difficult. I do not have a favorite for 2018.
There are some whom I like, but I keep observing.”

Cubans do not cast votes for president, but rather for local
representatives of the People’s Power and deputies to the National
Assembly. The new representatives of the National Assembly who are
scheduled to take their seats in February 2018 then elect the president
of the Council of States and Council of Ministers. For many years, Fidel
Castro and later his brother Raúl were unanimously elected to both posts.

Miguel Díaz-Canel’s ascent to first vice-president, replacing José Ramón
Machado Ventura — relegated to vice-president — was widely viewed as a
calculated political move to pave the way for the 57-year-old engineer
who was rising in the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC) to replace Raúl
Castro. But now it seems that other powerful figures in the Cuban
political scene, including other members of the Castro family, could be
potential successors.

While Col. Alejandro Castro Espín, brother of Mariela and head of the
National Defense and Security Commission, rarely appears as a rising
figure in Cuba’s state-controlled press, he has received more
international attention after it became publicly known that he played a
lead role in negotiations with the U.S. government to exchange prisoners
and restore diplomatic relations.

Raúl Castro, meanwhile, seemed to have poured a bucket of cold water on
the presidential aspirations of the current second secretary of the
Communist Party, Machado Ventura, during the party’s last Congress in
April 2016. Castro proposed limiting the age of those who occupy high
political and government positions, as well as term limits.

“It’s not a personal matter, I’m like them, I’m 85 years old, I’m one of
the oldest, not as old as Machado,” the Cuban leader said during a tense
session. “He is the senior veteran, I believe.”

Machado, a conservative who “hates Díaz-Canel,” according to a source
with close ties to the Cuban government who supports the policy of
rapprochement, would turn 88 in 2018. However, Castro refrained from
acting immediately and said that the measures would be implemented
within the next five years.

During a recent diplomatic trip through Europe, Foreign Minister Bruno
Rodríguez also made statements that have further muddled the successor
issue by saying that Raúl Castro has no constitutional obligation to
step down.

“Cuban law, as in many countries, contemplates indefinite election,”
Rodríguez told Diario de Noticias in Portugal. “However, I know the
president’s public stances as it relates to constitutional or
legislative review processes to establish some limitation on the number
of mandates. Still, there are no constitutional amendments in that regard.

“From the point of view of the Constitution and the electoral law, there
are no restrictions on indefinite reelection,” Rodríguez replied to a
question about whether Cuba’s ruler could be a candidate again if
relations with the United States deteriorate.

In a separate interview with a Spanish television channel, Cuba’s top
diplomat also declined to comment on Castro’s succession and simply said
that “we will have to wait for the elections to know the results.”

Follow Nora Gámez Torres on Twitter: @ngameztorres

Source: Several candidates could replace Raúl Castro, says his daughter
Mariela | Miami Herald –
www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/cuba/article147899609.html

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