HAVANA, Nov. 25th (Reuters) – Cuba marks the first anniversary of the death of revolutionary leader Fidel Castro on Saturday with a week of vigils nationwide, as the island embarks on a political cycle that will end 60 years of the Castro brothers’ rule.
Fidel, a towering figure of the 20th century who built a Communist-run state on the doorstep of the United States and defied U.S. efforts to topple him, died aged 90 on Nov. 25 last year.
The Cold War icon had already been largely out of public view for around a decade, having formally ceded the presidency to his younger brother, Raul Castro, in 2008 due to ill health. Cubans say his death changed little on the island.
The pace of reforms instigated by Raul to update the Soviet-style command economy has continued as hesitantly as before. Cuba’s relationship with the United States, meanwhile, has actually worsened due to U.S. President Donald Trump’s more hostile stance.
More significant politically, analysts say, will be the electoral cycle that starts Sunday with a municipal vote and will end with the selection of a new president in late February. Raul, 86, has said he would step down at the end of his two consecutive terms.
The transition is expected to be gradual as Raul will remain head of the Communist Party. It comes, however, as the country faces a tricky time with a decline in aid from ally Venezuela, weaker exports and a resulting cash crunch.