Thursday, April 19, 2018

Will a New President Mean Change for Cuba? | Inside Story

Who will succeed the Castros - Fidel and Raúl - has been the subject of intense speculation in Cuba for decades. We now know it is Miguel Diáz-Canel, the 57-year-old Vice President. He was sworn in as president on Thursday, replacing Raúl Castro. But Raul, who is 87, will continue to play a big role in policy decisions as head of the ruling Communist party.

The biggest challenges the new president faces are economic. Although unemployment stands at less than three percent, earnings are low. The government is the main employer and state salaries average 30 dollars a month. Reforms to boost private enterprise introduced by Raúl Castro have been accompanied by cuts in subsidies and pensions. And Cuba has a dual currency system that distorts the economy. One is used to pay wages and local goods; the other in tourism and foreign trade. Unifying the two would raise the price of imports.

Presenter: Folly Bah Thibault | Guests: Carlos Alzugaray, former Cuban Ambassador to the EU; Vicki Huddleston, former US Chief of Mission in Havana; Andrew Otazo, Executive Director of the Cuba Study Group