For the first time in almost 60 years, Cuba has a president who is not a member of the Castro family. President Raúl Castro (above, right) formally stepped down on April 19. The Cuban government chose Miguel Díaz-Canel (above, left) to replace him. He is expected to lead until 2031.
Cuba is a communist country. Citizens don’t elect their leaders. Raúl Castro, 86, became president in 2008. He took over for his older brother, Fidel Castro, who seized power after overthrowing dictator Fulgencio Batista during a revolution in 1959. Fidel controlled Cuba for 49 years. He died in 2016.
After taking office, Raúl Castro introduced small freedoms to Cuban citizens. He also worked to renew diplomatic ties between Cuba and the United States. In 2016, U.S. president Barack Obama became the first sitting president in 88 years to visit Cuba.
Díaz-Canel, 58, plans to allow the growth of small private businesses. Big businesses, such as mining, will continue to be controlled by the state.
Some people do not believe the new president will bring much change to Cuba. Raúl Castro will continue to lead the country’s Communist Party until 2021.