Miguel Diaz-Canel elected as Cuba's new President

Angel Rodriguez Negron fills his gasoline container at a gas station while others line up behind him after a general power outage in San Juan Puerto Rico Wednesday

Crucially, he will remain under the watchful eye of Castro, who will continue to serve as the head of Cuba's all-powerful Communist Party.

The chamber erupted into applause as the results were read out, with numerous delegates smiling, and shaking hands warmly with Castro and Diaz-Canel. Raul is the brother of the late Fidel Castro, who overthrew Dictator Fulgencio Batista in the 1959 revolution and led the country for decades.

Raul Castro is still expected to exercise a large measure of control over the Cuban government and have the final say on important decisions.

The country's National Assembly today formally elected Mr Díaz-Canel as the country's new leader, after he previously served as vice-president.

Diaz-Canel, who has spent years climbing the party ranks, was named the sole candidate for the presidency on Wednesday.

Raul Castro, the previous president of Cuba, assumed his post in 2008 after a transitional period that lasted for two years. Tall and gray-haired, he speaks in a soft monotone and rarely strays too far from the script in public appearances.


He will, however, remain head of the country's ruling Communist Party - and his presidential successor is a close ally of the outgoing 86-year-old leader. He became higher education minister in 2009 before moving into the vice presidency. Hard-working, modest-living, unsmiling technocrat dedicated to public services is the kind of image that he seems to have been cultivating - all the while keeping a rather low-profile. In the video of private Communist Party Meeting that leaked to the public last August, Diaz-Canel expressed a series of orthodox positions of the Communist Party including a vow to shut down critical, independent media and implied that certain European embassies were outposts of foreign subversion.

Diaz-Canel's speech set a course for his first term, in which he will have to strike a balance between defending Cuba's socialist system and reforming it enough to satisfy a young generation hungry for better economic conditions.

Two years after taking over from his ailing brother in 2006, Castro launched a series of reforms that expanded Cuba's private sector to almost 600,000 people and allowed citizens greater freedom to travel and access to information. State salaries average $30 a month, leaving workers struggling to feed their families, and often dependent on corruption or remittances from relatives overseas. Miguel was the only candidate presented for the vote.

"Since the current president arrived in office, there has been a deliberate reversal in the relations between Cuba and the United States, and an aggressive and threatening tone prevails", Castro said.

Ramiro Valdes, 85, was proposed as one of the vice presidents in a significant move, thereby keeping in the future government a historical leader who fought in the liberation war along with the Castro brothers.

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