The 86-year-old Castro will remain head of the Communist Party, which is designated by the constitution as “the superior guiding force of society and the state.” As a result, he will still be the most powerful person in Cuba for the time being. Díaz-Canel used a large portion of his acceptance speech to praise the Castro brothers. The country has been under the absolute rule of one family since the revolution, first by revolutionary leader Fidel Castro and, for the last decade, his younger brother. The general public expectation is that Diaz-Canel will work hard on the economy, because people need to live a little better in this country. His promise is to make Cuba’s government more responsive to its people.
“The lives of those who will be elected have to be focused on relating to the people, listening to the people, investigating their problems and encouraging debate,” he said after casting a ballot for members of the National Assembly. Díaz-Canel is an electrical engineer by training and a career bureaucrat. The new president praised Castro for his work keeping the country together, helping broker the Colombian peace process and maintaining a “peace zone” throughout the Caribbean.