Obama administration tepid on end to Castro reign
“This represents a significant window of opportunity for the United States to start working today to empower reformers within the Cuban government and facilitate change toward the island,” said Ricardo Herrero, deputy executive director of the Cuba Study Group, a Cuban exile organization seeking repeal of the Helms-Burton Act.
Mr. Herrero pointed specifically to the tapping on Sunday of communist party loyalist Miguel Diaz Canel to the Cuban vice presidency.
The 52-year-old former electrical engineer has spent the past three decades quietly rising through the party’s ranks. Should he succeed Raul Castro in the presidency, he will be the first to hold real power in Cuba without having fought in the island nation’s communist revolution.
Mr. Diaz Canel represents a stark departure from Jose Ramon Machado, 82, who has held the vice presidency since Raul Castro, 81, ascended from it in 2008 to replace his brother Fidel, 86, as Cuba’s president.
When Mr. Machado was tapped five years ago, it “was a sign that the old regime was doubling down,” said Mr. Herrero. “He was as hardline as they got in that system.
“To move away from him by basically replacing him now with a technocrat, who is not part of the historic leadership, they’re showing a shift away from folks whose primary objective was political victory over the United States.”
They’re moving “toward someone who would be more interested in helping to fix their economy and helping their system recover from the morass that it’s currently in,” Mr. Herrero said.
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.