Handover of power in Cuba, a historic turning point

Thursday, 2018-04-19 12:20:34
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Cuba's President Raul Castro (left) and First Vice-President Miguel Diaz-Canel arrive for a session of the National Assembly in Havana, Cuba, April 18, 2018. (Reuters)
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NDO – The first session of the ninth Cuban National Assembly (NA) opened in Havana on April 18. This is a historic event, as the NA delegates elect a new leadership board for the country, aiming to inherit and promote the outstanding achievements of the revolutionary leaders and continue on the path of development which has been chosen by the Cuban people.

The opening of the meeting took place one day earlier than the initial announcement, seeking to facilitate the necessary procedures of a session that the Cuban parliament considered being of “extremely great importance.” During the two-day meeting, the delegates of the new-tenure Cuban NA take on a lot of responsibilities, such as outlining the next steps to implement the Resolution of the seventh Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba in 2016, shaping the country’s socialist-oriented socio-economic model, building a development plan up to 2030 and the process of updating the economic model for the next five years.

The new parliament has been tasked with electing the Council of State, the leaders of the legislative bodies, and the Cuban leaders in the new stage of the country’s development. A total of 605 NA delegates, who were elected in the March 11 general election, took the oath of office and voted to choose 31 members of the State Council, including the president, the first vice president, five vice presidents, and other members for the following five-year term. This event marks a historic turning point, which is the handover of power in Cuba. At the seventh Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba, Cuban President Raul Castro announced his plan to resign as the President of the Council of State and the Council of Ministers at the end of the NA term. The plan to transfer the leadership responsibility is of great significance, showing the continuity, solidarity, and determination to safeguard the revolutionary achievements in Cuba.

The handover of power in Cuba takes place as the Caribbean island nation is in a continuous process of reform, with the policy of modernising the economy having achieved remarkable results bringing about tremendous and positive changes for the people. The sixth Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba in 2011 adopted the country’s new development path, which is the process of “updating the economic model”, aiming to promote economic growth and improve the standard of living for the people. At the seventh Congress, the Communist Party of Cuba adopted a draft concept of the country’s socialist socio-economic development model and affirmed their persistence with the process of “updating the economic model”. The extensive implementation of the process has initially achieved optimistic results, as Cuba’s economic structure has seen positive shifts, and the supply ability of goods has improved remarkably due to measures encouraging the development of the private economic sector. In its efforts to promote economic, trade and investment openness, Cuba adopted the Law on Foreign Investment in 2014, whilst reducing taxes and allowing foreign investors to operate with more flexibility. In 2017 alone, Cuba signed a series of new investment projects, totaling more than US$2 billion.

On the basis of the current policies and guidelines, the ninth National Assembly, as well as the upcoming leaders of Cuba, have affirmed their persistence in the development path that the people have chosen. The key task is to maintain and strengthen investment, whilst calling for investment in the spearhead economic sectors, such as tourism and transportation. In addition, developing the Mariel special development zone with many new projects, in parallel with other basic fields such as health, education, and food production, will be a priority in Cuba’s socio-economic development plan for the future. Another priority will be the application of policies that suit the current global and regional situations of multiple fluctuations, including an unfavourable reality in the process of normalising its relations with the United States.

The prominent socio-economic policies and achievements of the senior leaders will be a solid and favourable foundation for Cuba’s new board of leadership to inherit and carry on with the process of modernising and accelerating economic growth and further developing the country in the near future.