MIAMI – Experts in Miami agree that even though Raul Castro will no longer officially lead the Cuban Communist Party, he still remains the most powerful man on the island. His partial absence will likely test the current structure.
Andy Gomez, a retired University of Miami professor, said Castro, 89, is a survivor. Many of his contemporaries, including Camilo Cienfuegos, Huber Matos and El Che Guevara, vanished from the limelight.
“I think Raul will be remembered for being able to keep the Cuban military loyal to Fidel and to the ideology of the Revolution,” Gomez said.
Michael Bustamante, a Florida International University assistant professor, said Cuba is going through a generational transition.
“I don’t know if the name will ever fade to the background,” Bustamante said.
Bustamante said Raul Castro was the one who began to experiment with free-market reforms in 2010, and Cuban officials are talking about expanding the private sector.
Orlando Gutierrez-Boronat, of the Cuban Democratic Directorate, a nongovernmental organization that supports the human rights movement in Cuba, said Castro is still in power.
“It must be understood that in the informal power structure of Cuba the Castro family still calls the shots,” Gutierrez-Boronat said. “They control the finances. They control the intelligence services. They control the army.”
Gutierrez-Boronat said that without Fidel and Raul Castro’s heavy-handed rule and their tight grip on power there is likely a leadership vacuum on the island.
“The absence of the two iconic Castro brothers just highlights the leadership crisis that these communist regimes tend to have,” Gutierrez-Boronat said.
The coronavirus pandemic and U.S. sanctions have deepened Cuba’s economic crisis. Access to the Internet, social media, and a growing underground independent media mean there is more resistance from a more informed populace, Gutierrez-Boronat said.
“The ingredients are in the right place for change to happen in Cuba,” Gutierrez-Boronat said
Related social media
#CUBA: #RaulCastro officially announces he is stepping down as 1st secretary of country's only ruling party, @PartidoPCC. Arguably the most powerful post on #communist island, #Castro says he will continue to be "revolutionary combatant" till end of his life. @WPLGLocal10 pic.twitter.com/HCGZjZJ1dm— Hatzel Vela (@HatzelVelaWPLG) April 16, 2021
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