Difficult reform of the new head of state of Cuba

Silver hair, black suit and red tie are the iconic images of Dias-Carnell. On October 10, local time, Carnell boarded the podium of the special meeting of the Ninth National Congress of the People’s Power of Cuba and accepted the 580 cheers from the delegates. At this meeting, Carnell was elected as the first president of the country in Cuban history. From April 19, 2018, the replacement of the 86-year-old Raul Castro became the chairman of the Cuban State Council and the chairman of the Council of Ministers.

Dias-Carnell has been in charge of Cuba for more than a year. As the new head of state of Cuba, Carnell’s unusualness was not only because of his status as president of the State Council, but also because he was not Castro, and he was nearly 30 years younger than his predecessor. However, Carnell gave up the power to lead the ministerial meeting. A prime minister will become the head of government after receiving his nomination, and he will “take over” with him. The BBC is not optimistic about Carnell’s new deal, saying that the 59-year-old Cuban leader’s coming to power only means “symbolic change” and that there will be no particularly significant reforms in the short term.

But Bloomberg analysts believe that “the end of the Castro era means the opportunity to change, Dias-Carnell has no reason not to seize these opportunities.” Separation of powers In 2013, a group of Cuban intellectuals who taught at institutions of higher learning created a blog that often criticized national policies and leaders. The blog was quickly banned, but the professors were informed that Carnell, who had just served as the first vice chairman of the Cuban State Council, wanted to meet them.

Carnell was born in 1960, when the Cuban revolution was just over. Fidel Castro began to preside over the work of the Cuban Communist Party and the Cuban government. Until 2006, Fidel’s younger brother Raul became the first secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba and the State Council. The chairman and chairman of the Council of Ministers, the commander-in-chief of the Revolutionary Armed Forces, became the country’s top leader.

That year, Carnell was already the provincial party secretary of the province of Holguin in eastern Cuba and the youngest member of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China. Three years later he was transferred to the capital, Havana, and became the Minister of Higher Education of the Raul government. In 2013, the official of the electrical engineer officially became the deputy of Raul. “You can think of Raul and Carnell as a mentor and disciple,” the Washington Post reported. Cuban bloggers who had been banned from blogs soon saw the “Raul’s disciple.”

One participant later recalled that they were prepared to make a statement to Cuba’s “second-handed”, which is beneficial to Cuban society, but the first sentence after Dias-Carnell’s presence was: “Can you continue? What do you do? Do you need help if you can?” What these bloggers didn’t know at the time was that Raul and Carnell had already begun to plan Cuba’s political system reform. Five years later, Raul handed over the duties of the Chairman of the Council of State and the chairman of the Council of Ministers to Carnell. At the same time, he led the formation of a constitutional revision team of 33 people and proceeded to reform the 1976 Constitution.

In July 2018, the draft constitution was published. Four months later, the Cuban People’s Power Congress voted to conduct a referendum procedure for the new constitution. On February 24, 2019, 90.61% of the voting people supported the constitutional amendment. On April 10, the new constitution came into force.

The 2019 Constitution completely changed the national leadership under the 1976 Constitution. The chairman of the Council of State and the chairman of the Council of Ministers no longer exist. The function of the head of state is borne by the new president of the country, and the ministerial meeting is the responsibility of the prime minister nominated by the president. “The new social reality means that the constitution must be updated,” Carnell said. “The new constitution will reflect the country’s present and future.”

William Leograng, a professor of public affairs at American University, believes that this adjustment in power structure can increase the efficiency of the central government, and local governments with more autonomy do not have to “wait for Havana’s instructions.” Ted Pikkori, a former Central American affairs official of the Clinton administration, is paying more attention to the institutionalization and specialization of the Cuban executive. “With the passage of time, these changes may provide some small opportunities for greater internal change. “” According to Daniel Eriksson, a former White House Central American affairs adviser, this is a new mechanism for balancing powers.

He also wrote an analysis pointing out that under the framework of the new constitution, Cuba has newly established the Governorship, which means that 15 provinces and autonomous regions will share some central power. Paul Hale, a professor at Boston University and a former British ambassador to Cuba, is concerned that the separation of the functions of the president and the functions of the prime minister “means constraints on future reform leaders”. In this regard, the State Council member Omero Acosta stressed that Carnell still retains the power to nominate the prime minister, so he “is not a symbolic, nominal president of the country, but a chairman who has a real function in the government. “.

According to Ricardo Barrios, a Latin American dialogue organization expert, Carnell’s current situation is temporary. “In the future, although the Prime Minister will be responsible for administrative affairs, it is expected that the President of the State will maintain greater authority as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and the leaders of the Cuban Communist Party.”

Before the party elections of 2021, the top leader of the Cuban Communist Party and the army remained Raul Castro. Floris-Masias, a professor of international relations at Cornell University, believes that in the process of reform, this is actually an arrangement that is conducive to Carnell’s administration. “It will enable him to serve as the head of state more smoothly.” Raul’s movement also reflects his retention of his position and is not intended to threaten Carnell’s ruling status. The New Yorker reported that Raul is planning to move to the eastern city of Santiago, Cuba. The city is not far from the farm where he and his brother were born.

“Considering his age, he may not stay in his current position for too long.” This is also a commitment to respond to the new constitution: the national leader is appointed for a term of five years, for a maximum of two consecutive terms, and that the age of the first term must not exceed 60 years. At the special meeting on October 10, the Second Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba and Vice Chairman of the State Council Jose Machado and other revolutionary leaders withdrew from the government leadership. “Machado’s departure from the Council of State is very important.

This shows that Raul has successfully retired most of the 80-year-olds around him,” said Lopez Levi, a political science professor at the University of Texas. Instead, there is more leadership: up to three female members in the State Council for the first time; the newly elected Vice President Mesa became the first black man in Cuba’s history to serve as the vice chairman of the Council of State in April last year.

However, the new Constitution, while deleting the expression of “moving towards a communist society” in the 1976 Constitution, still adheres to Cuba’s basic political system. Marxism-Leninism and Cuban revolutionism originating from Fidel Castro continue to be established as the guiding ideology of the state.