Cuba's New President Diaz-Canel Vows To 'Continue' Revolution

Cuba's New President Diaz-Canel Vows To 'Continue' Revolution

Cuba's New President Diaz-Canel Vows To 'Continue' Revolution

Miguel Diaz-Canel was elected on Thursday as the new Cuban president, as the successor of the Army General Raul Castro, who concluded two consecutive five-year terms in office.

Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudes on his election as President of Cuba's Council of State.

Castro is making his first speech since handing the presidency over to Diaz-Canel, and used the opportunity to give his vision of the future.

"I am here to work, not to make promises", he said.

In 2014, Castro and former U.S. President Barack Obama reached a landmark agreement to renew diplomatic ties and improve relations between the Cold War foes, a detente that led to a rapid increase in U.S. visits and investment on the island.

The chamber erupted into applause as the results of the poll were read out, with numerous delegates smiling and shaking hands warmly with Castro and Diaz-Canel. Diaz-Canel and Castro embraced, and Castro left the stage.

It was a historic, though understated, handover.

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Castro's 12 years as president ended shortly after 9 a.m. when the head of the country's electoral commission announced that all but one of the 604 members of the National Assembly had approved Diaz-Canel as sole candidate.

With Castro watching from the audience, Diaz-Canel made clear that he would defer to the man who, along with his brother Fidel Castro, founded and ruled for six decades what has become of one of the world's last communist governments.

Raul has been in power since 2006, when he took over after illness sidelined Fidel.

Thursday's symbolic vote took place on the anniversary of the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion, when Fidel's forces defeated 1,400 US-backed rebels seeking to overthrow him.

Havana has long hailed the showdown as American imperialism's first great defeat in Latin America. Diaz-Canel, praising the reforms he ushered in as president, said Castro would remain the leader of the revolution and would be involved in major decisions.

Although he has advocated fewer restrictions on the media and a greater openness to the internet, he also has a ruthless streak, with harsh words for Cuba's dissidents and the US. Diaz-Canel told the nation that Castro, 86, would remain the country's ultimate authority as head of the Communist Party.

Castro's moves to open the economy have largely been frozen or reversed as soon as they began to generate conspicuous shows of wealth by the new entrepreneurial class in a country officially dedicated to equality among its citizens.

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