Castro says Diaz-Canel may also gain party post

HAVANA (AP) — Raul Castro says he sees new Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel as his eventual successor as head of the island’s powerful Communist Party.

Castro is making his first speech since handing the presidency over to Diaz-Canel, and used the opportunity to give his vision of the future.

He told members of the National Assembly Thursday that he expects Diaz-Canel to serve two five-year terms and can become head of the party once Castro leaves that position in 2021.

Castro praised Diaz-Canel’s leadership as a Communist Party official dating back to the “special period” of the 1990s when Cuba faced a deep economic crisis following the loss of subsidies because of the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Raul Castro served as president for two terms since 2008.