UPDATE: Diaz-Canel Nominated To Replace Rual Castro As Cuban Leader


Update: 12:40 p.m.

The Cuban government has nominated First Vice President Miguel Mario Diaz-Canel Bermudez as the sole candidate to succeed 86-year-old Gen. Raul Castro.

The nomination must be now approved by the 604 delegates attending the National Assembly, which always approves nominations with total or near-total unanimity.

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For the first time since 1959, someone lacking the last name "Castro" will take over the job of leading Cuba on Wednesday.

Raul Castro, who has led the government since 2008, will pass on his current title to a self-picked successor. The 86-year-old Castro took over when his brother, Fidel, fell ill. 

At around 9 a.m., Cuba's national assembly is expected to officially replace Castro with someone new. That someone is said to be Miguel Díaz-Canel.

The big question is how much, if any, change there will be with a new leader.

“The president will do what Castro tells him to do. He doesn’t have any real power,” said Sebastian Arcos, the associate director of the Cuban Research Institute at Florida International University, to NBC6. “This is not a transition and Raul Castro is not stepping down from power. This is simply an internal transfer of power.”

Castro will still remain in charge of Cuba’s communist party, giving him broad authority over the new leader's actions.

Diaz-Canel, 58, graduated from the University of Santa Clara in 1982 and did three years of obligatory military service. He served as an engineering professor at the school. 

Canel joined the Young Communists' Union in 1987 and worked his way up through the Communist Party hierarchy starting with provincial positions.

In 2009, he received his first national post when Raul Castro named him minister of higher education. He rose to vice president in 2012, then was first vice president in 2013.


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