Head of Cuba communist party to step down after six decades of Castro family rule

Raúl Castro, head of the powerful and autocratic communist party of Cuba, has announced that he will be stepping down after a decade of power.

The 89-year-old communist leader succeeded his brother, Fidel Castro, starting in April of 2011. His resignation signals the first time that someone not named Castro will rule the country since the Cuban Revolution, which ended with Fidel Castro assuming power in 1959.

Castro steps down from head of the country at a time when the Cuban economy is in crisis. Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, Cuba was already suffering its worst economic crisis in decades and this has only been exacerbated by the pandemic. The economy reportedly shrunk by at least 11% in 2020 according to government estimates.

The Cuban government, which has been attacked by Human Rights Watch for “repressing and punishing dissent and public criticism” is set to undergo its most significant change in leadership in years.

What will this change in leadership mean for the nation of Cuba, which is struggling to feed its own citizens? Could this be a potential turning point in human rights abuses and U.S.-Cuba relations?

Under the Trump Administration, the U.S. State Department designated Cuba as a State Sponsor of Terrorism in January of 2021. President Biden has not yet made any official public comments about Castro’s stepping down.

Noah Pitcher is a global politics correspondent for Today News Africa covering the U.S. government, United Nations, African Union, and other actors involved in international developments, political controversies, and humanitarian issues.

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