Raul Castro Steps Down as Leader of Cuba

Tomas Curcio, Staff Writer

On Apr. 19, 2021, Raul Castro officially retired from the position of the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba, the highest position in Cuba’s government. Miguel Diaz-Canel, the current president of Cuba, succeeds Castro.

Cuba’s government functions in a similar manner to many other Communist nations, where the head of the Communist Party, the only eligible party, acts as the de facto leader. This contrasts to the powers of the President and Prime Minister of Cuba who do have considerable authority, but often have to ascribe to the wishes of the First Secretary.

Raul Castro’s secretarial term closed with a two-hour speech to the Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba where the announcement of his retirement came on Apr. 26 2021.

Castro had this position of power for exactly 10 years to the day in 2011 when his older brother, Fidel Castro, stepped down from this position due to his deteriorating health. Fidel Castro died five years after his retirement due to an undisclosed illness.

Raul Castro’s leave signifies the first time a person not part of the Castro family will hold the position since its creation in 1965. 

The position of President of Cuba has similarly been controlled by the Castro brothers from 1976 to 2018, when Raul Castro stepped down and Diaz-Canal took control.