First Clues Emerge About Cuba's Future Under New President

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The one-party system led by the Communist Party is still dominant in Cuba and old guards like Raul Castro and Jose Ramon Machado Ventura, 87, are not leaving the scene soon.

CGTN's Michael Voss reports from Havana.

"In the hearings in Washington D.C., Mike Pompeo was asked specifically about Cuba - if he would continue the relationship between the USA and Cuba, and if he would like more trade to be going on between both countries, and he said that is something he would definitely look into", Nespral said.

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.

"With Raul Castro stepping down today, and his appointed crony Miguel Díaz-Canel taking his place, Cuba will continue to be an island imprisoned under the rule of an oppressive single-party political system".

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.

In his half-hour speech to the nation, the new president pledged to preserve the island's communist system while gradually reforming the economy and making the government more responsive to the people.

Diaz-Canel, praising the reforms Raul ushered in as president, said the former president will remain the leader of the revolution and that he will be involved in major decisions.

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He said Cuba was, as always, prepared to negotiate with the United States but unwilling to cede to any of Washington's demands for internal change. There are now talks whether this would see the country traversing a new path - something which was unthinkable in the times of the Castros, especially Fidel, who was seen as a symbol of resistance to Capitalism.

Analysts say it will be tricky for Diaz-Canel to get the party and government to deepen the reform process, given his predecessor struggled to do so despite his clout as one of the revolutionary leaders.

"And during this important time in Cuba - because without question, this is a significant change that someone with the name of Castro... will not be the head of government - the Cuban people need the solidarity of the rest of the world", Curbelo continued.

The National Assembly erupted into applause as the result was read out, with delegates smiling and shaking hands warmly with Castro and Diaz-Canel. There, people described him as a hard-working, modest-living technocrat dedicated to improving public services. In 2009, President Obama lifted all restrictions on family travel to Cuba. In a video of a Communist Party meeting that inexplicably leaked to the public past year, Diaz-Canel expressed a series of orthodox positions that included somberly pledging to shutter some independent media and labelling some European embassies as outposts of foreign subversion. Worldwide observers and Cubans alike will be scrutinizing every move he makes in coming days and weeks.

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.

The party runs vast organisations that coordinate activities for almost every Cuban child and student. The average monthly pay for state workers is roughly $30 a month.

The results of votes for unopposed candidates for the vice-presidents and members of Cuba's council of state, its top executive body, will also be announced.

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