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Diaz-Canel unlikely to bring sweeping changes in Cuba, feel experts

By Shubham

Cuba, a small island-nation in the Caribbean Sea which has been a country of tremendous historical importance, witnessed yet another watershed moment recently as Raul Castro, the octogenarian brother of the late Fidel Castro, handed over the reins of power to Miguel Diaz-Canel, who served as the country's first vice president since 2013.

Cubas new president Miguel Diaz-Canel and former president Raul Castro

With Diaz-Canel's ascendancy, Cuba was set to see a non-Castro leader for the first time in several decades. There are now talks whether this would see the country traversing a new path - something which was unthinkable in the times of the Castros , especially Fidel, who was seen as a symbol of resistance to Capitalism.

But those close to Cuban politics have opined that though young, Diaz-Canel is still a communist who is reluctant to go for sweeping political reforms in the country.

Diaz-Canel, 57, is the first leader of Cuba to be born after the historic 1959 revolution whereby the authoritarian government of Fulgencio Batista was overthrown.

Diaz-Canel is an electronics engineer who is considered a modern individual who backs LGBT rights, loves rock music and is techno-savvy.

The man is also in favour of more critical coverage of events in Cuba's state media and broader internet penetration, a Reuters report said, adding that Diaz-Canel also arrives at meetings with a tablet device.

But despite all these, Diaz-Canel is ultimately a leader hand-picked buy Castro. He made his position by rising through the ranks and remaining loyal to the party on key political and economic issues, according to observers, the Reuters report added.

Diaz-Canel recently made remarks in the public stressing the need to fight imperialism - a slogan not uncommon in Cuba - especially when Havana's relations with neighbours US have seen new tensions in the era of President Donald Trump.

Trump's predecessor Barack Obama had sought an opening with Cuba but the current president has not shown such intent.

Experts believe that Diaz-Canel's individual outlooks might not be in tune with the country's political functioning but that doesn't mean that Cuba will see sweeping changes in its everyday life.

The one-party system led by the Communist Party is still dominant in Cuba and old guards like Raul Castro and Jose Ramon Machado Ventura, 87, are not leaving the scene soon. This will restrict Diaz-Canel's chances of going for wild reforms and please those who seek fast development in the country which has been under the Castros' dominance for a very long period.

What's worse is that Cuba's dissident community which is being seen by the government as one which works for the US to destabilise the country, has criticised Diaz-Canel even before it began, saying there would be no qualitative change between Cuba's past and present.

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