Cuba's New President Diaz-Canel Vows To 'Continue' Revolution

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

First Secretary of Cuba's Communist Party and now former president Raul Castro and new president Miguel Diaz-Canel.

Cuba's National Assembly has confirmed Miguel Díaz-Canel as president in a symbolic transfer of power from the Castro family that has ruled the island since 1959. Diaz-Canel was approved by 604 votes in the 605-member assembly.

Castro, who was president from 2008 when he took over from his ailing older brother Fidel, will retain considerable clout as he will remain head of the Communist Party until a congress in 2021.

Castro is handing the baton to his deputy at a time the U.S. is threatening to re-impose sanctions on Cuba, while the country's sole benefactor, Venezuela, is slowly drowning in a full-blown economic crisis.

The new Cuban president, Miguel Diaz-Canel, assured today that the mandate he initiates will be to give "continuity to the Cuban Revolution in a historical and crucial moment", reported dpa news.

As he walked to the front of the chamber, Diaz-Canel high-fived the front row of delegates and embraced Castro as he took the stage.

Attention is now focused on what changes, if any, will come in Cuba under Diaz-Canel, who was born after the revolution. But Cuba has turned the page on a new political era, marking the first time since the revolution that someone outside the Castro dynasty is leading the communist state.

Diaz-Canel received congratulations from the leaders of China, Russia, Britain, Spain and across Latin America, including from Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro, a close ally of Cuba. He was the only candidate on the ballot, having been hand-picked by outgoing president Raul Castro to be his successor.

Castro's moves to open the economy have largely been frozen or reversed as soon as they began to generate conspicuous shows of wealth by the new entrepreneurial class in a country officially dedicated to equality among its citizens.

But the United States, with whom Raul Castro launched a rapprochement and renewed diplomatic ties in 2015, was less welcoming. That image changed slightly this year as state media placed an increasing spotlight on Diaz-Canel's public appearances, including remarks to the press last month that included his promise to make Cuba's government more responsive to its people, language he echoed on Thursday.

One of the fiercest congressional critics of Cuba's government said the island's new president is a "thug" who is just the "same as the old boss".

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