Miguel Diaz-Canel, the Castro brothers’ “flavor of the day” as successor to their repressive totalitarian dictatorship, was apparently a very carefully groomed product of the Cuban dictatorship machine.
Cuba’s apparent successor to Castro was carefully groomed
Miguel Diaz-Canel climbed through the ranks of communist Cuba, serving in the military and winning praise from the leadership for loyalty and a roll-up-the-sleeves work ethic.
MEXICO CITY — To most outsiders, Miguel Diaz-Canel was an unknown. But in Cuba, the newly anointed possible heir to the Castro brothers was a carefully groomed, hardworking and familiar figure.
Diaz-Canel emerged as the likely successor to lead a post-Castro government over the weekend when he was named first vice president and President Raul Castro announced that he would step down at the end of his just-ratified five-year term.
It marks the first time an expiration date has been put on the Castro era, during which the island was led first by Fidel and then by Raul after the 1959 revolution that ousted a dictatorial U.S.-backed regime.
Diaz-Canel, 52, is part of a new generation of Cuban political operatives. Raul is 81 and Fidel, who formally stepped down in 2008, is 86.
The heir apparent worked his way up through the ranks of communist Cuba, serving in the military and filling posts in the provinces. He won praise from the leadership for fidelity and a roll-up-the-sleeves work ethic that put him in the trenches alongside regular people.
“He is not a test-tube politician,” said a Cuban official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss political matters. In other words, he was not a latecomer dilettante who felt entitled by virtue of class or family. “He worked closely with the people and gained lots of experience.”
Essentially, he paid his dues, putting hard work ahead of the overt ambition that has felled many an up-and-comer on the Cuban political landscape.
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