Raul Castro To Step Down in April 2018

Cuba's President Raul Castro attends the opening session of the 10th ALBA alliance summit in Havana

Cuba's President Raul Castro attends the opening session of the 10th ALBA alliance summit in Havana

The Cuban parliament in Thursday extended its term from February until April in a move nearly certain to extend President Raul Castro's time in office. That is due to the ongoing recovery efforts from Hurricane Irma, according to the CSP.

Cuba's president is not directly elected by the people, but by the Council of State which is chosen by the National Assembly.

But analysts and Cuban dissidents recently told the Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald that an economy in recession, the hardening of US sanctions and the diplomatic crisis stemming from health attacks on USA diplomats in Havana set the stage for Castro's extended term.

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The electoral process started on November 26 with the election of the municipal councilors, and "therefore, it is impossible for the next Legislature to begin its mandate on February 24, 2018 as planned", said the news release. The announcement did not mention any such action. While Raul was certainly more open to reforms than his brother, it will be curious to see what happens if someone not named Castro steps in.

Some Cuban dissidents have noted what they consider "lack of leadership" by the Cuban vice president, who has issued harsh statements about the United States and the Cuban opposition in a leaked video.

Castro's first vice president, Miguel Diaz Canel, 57, is expected to be Cuba's next president, even as Castro remains the leader of the Caribbean island nation's communist party.

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This could be an interesting shift in Cuban politics.

Castro, 86, had said that he planned to step down in February at the end of a months-long political cycle in which voters and government officials pick the members of local, provincial and national assemblies and the members of the powerful council of state.

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