By Noemí Galbán
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews
HAVANA, Apr 18 (Xinhua) — Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel arrives tomorrow, Friday, at the first anniversary of his term after going through internal and external difficulties that have demonstrated his political leadership.
In an interview with Xinhua, Cuban political scientist Iroel Sánchez said that the last 365 days have been intense and have demanded a great ability to govern from the current president.
It’s a quality that has characterized him since his work at the bases of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC) and that earned him the trust of the top leaders of the Revolution, Fidel and Raul Castro.
Both identified Diaz-Canel as the most competent successor to face the generational change of the historic political leadership of the country and for this, they had the majority support of the people.
Sánchez affirmed that “this first year has been one of a rearticulation of the political consensus around him, which is great because he has had to face major events, from the lamentable crash of an airplane to a tornado and he has done it successfully”.
According to the Cuban journalist, these facts have allowed the authority and image of the president to be strengthened, because it gave a new dynamic to the government’s management.
Not only did he renew part of his ministerial cabinet, but he also promoted direct contact with the people by traveling around the country and taking with him the majority of the highest officials of the central administration of the State to verify the existing problems in each province and look for possible solutions in situ.
This method of work also contemplated a greater presence in the media, where Díaz-Canel’s work is appreciated almost daily in meetings, balance sheets, visits to productive facilities. Meanwhile the ministers appear in local television programs to respond to the concerns of the citizens.
The president was one of the first Cuban leaders to open a Twitter account, an example that stimulated others, with the aim that Cubans participate and be informed about what is being done for the country.
“He has elaborated a discourse coherent with revolutionary tradition, with the needs of the historical moment and with popular expectations. He has had enormous acceptance for his anti-bureaucratic management and is very accurate in his detection of current needs,” said Sánchez.
The columnist from such local media as “Cubadebate” and “Revista Temas,” said that in this new dynamic he also highlights the speed of reaction to the most important events in the country.
“Not to give long terms for solutions, but to shorten those times in function of the transformation and improvement of the living conditions of the people,” he said.
“Not being satisfied with the first version of a response, that has been something that has marked this year and that people have perceived with satisfaction,” said Sanchez.
The person also responsible for the office for the Informatization of Society of the Ministry of Communication of Cuba explained that despite the same objectives of preserving national sovereignty, deepening social justice and increasing international solidarity, the reality today is different.
Added to the complex domestic economic panorama are the crisis in Venezuela, Cuba’s first trading partner, and the growing hostility of the government of U.S. President Donald Trump.
All this creates a scenario that poses colossal challenges for Diaz-Canel, especially in the economic field and the goal of growing 1.5 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2019.
Challenges also due to the country’s delicate external financial situation and the aggressiveness of U.S. measures that hinder the objectives of attracting greater volumes of foreign capital to exceed the 2 billion dollars needed annually by the nation for its development.
“There is a program that has not yet been implemented, to a large extent, because the conditions for implementing it are worsening. Now that the strategy of attracting foreign investment was paying off, Trump activates Title III of the Helms-Burton Act to stop the first successes,” Sanchez said.
Title III of the Helms-Burton Act allows Americans to file lawsuits in U.S. courts to lay claim to property nationalized in Cuba after the triumph of the Revolution in 1959.
However, said the analyst, it is necessary to find ways to move forward and reorder the country internally in order to correct distortions and make the role of the State more and more efficient.
“The high political consensus and legitimacy he has will allow him a margin for initiatives and creativity in that sense. For example, as in the case of giving more power to municipalities and making the functioning between the private and state sectors coherent in order to tax economic growth,” he said.
On April 19, 2018, Miguel Díaz-Canel, a 58-year-old electrical engineer, took over the reins of the country, backed by 99.83 percent of Parliament’s deputies and became the first president born after the triumph of the Revolution.
He is a leader born at the base of the PCC who does not bear the Castro name. He embodies the generational relay in the historical leadership of this Caribbean nation, determined to preserve its socialist path but convinced of the imperative need for profound economic transformations.