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The Cuban “top leader” who wears a suit and travels the world

  Instead of the olive-green uniforms of his predecessors, the silver-haired Díaz-Canel prefers a suit and tie. On November 24, he flew to Beijing with such an image.
  On the morning of November 25, General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and President Xi Jinping held talks at the Great Hall of the People with the First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba and Cuban President Díaz-Canel, who was on a state visit to China.
  Xi Jinping pointed out that you are the first Latin American and Caribbean head of state to visit China after the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, fully embodying the special friendly relationship between the two parties and the two countries. Cuba is the first country in the Western Hemisphere to establish diplomatic relations with New China. China-Cuba relations have become a model of solidarity and cooperation among socialist countries and sincere mutual assistance among developing countries. China is willing to work with Cuba to continuously deepen political mutual trust, expand practical cooperation, firmly support each other on issues concerning each other’s core interests, strengthen coordination and cooperation in international and regional affairs, go hand in hand on the road of building socialism with its own characteristics, and continuously deepen the cooperation between China and Cuba in the new era. relation.
  Xi Jinping emphasized that China and Cuba are good friends who trust each other, good comrades who share the same goals, and good brothers who share weal and woe. The traditional friendship between China and Cuba was forged and carefully cultivated by the leaders of the older generation. Since the establishment of diplomatic relations 62 years ago, in the face of the ever-changing international situation, China and Cuba have unswervingly deepened their sincere friendship, unswervingly carried out mutually beneficial and win-win cooperation, and unswervingly become partners in reform and development. China has always viewed and developed the relationship between the two parties and the country from a strategic perspective, and has always placed China-Cuba relations in a special position in the overall diplomatic situation. No matter how the international situation changes, China’s policy of adhering to long-term friendship with Cuba will not change, its determination to support Cuba in taking the road of socialism will not change, and its will to work with Cuba to defend international fairness and justice and oppose hegemony and power will not change.
  Díaz-Canel sincerely thanked Chairman Xi Jinping for inviting him to visit China as the first Latin American head of state after the successful convening of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China. On behalf of the Cuban party and country, he once again warmly congratulated the successful convening of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China and warmly congratulated President Xi Jinping on his re-election to the Communist Party of China. General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee, warmly congratulates China on its historic achievements in advancing the cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics under the leadership of Chairman Xi. Progressive forces in the world are deeply encouraged by this. Diaz-Canel said that I myself and the top Cuban party have carefully studied your report at the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China. Facing the extremely complex and severe political and economic situation, Cuba will use China as a model to creatively face challenges and achieve the goal of building socialism.
  After the talks, the two heads of state jointly witnessed the signing of bilateral documents on inter-party exchanges, the consultation mechanism between the foreign ministries, the joint construction of the “Belt and Road” initiative, and practical cooperation between the two countries. The two sides issued the “Joint Statement between the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of Cuba on Deepening China-Cuba Relations in the New Era.”
old friend from china

  In Santa Clara, Dias-Canel’s hometown, there are sweet mills and beautiful islands and reefs. Large posters of Cuban revolutionary leaders, the Fidel Castro brothers, smile and wave at major intersections in the provincial capital. Carnell, who came out of Santa Clara, became Cuba’s leader enough to make the Castro brothers smile with satisfaction.
  As a loyal follower of the Castro brothers, Diaz-Canel is regarded as a staunch “son of the revolution”. In dealing with Cuba-China relations, he also inherited the tradition left by his predecessors. “Since he took office, he has focused on developing relations with China and continuing the partnership between the two countries as good friends, good comrades, and good brothers. The two countries have similar positions in many international affairs.” Secretary of the Cuban Studies Center of the Latin American Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences Chang Han Han said. According to reports, Diaz-Canel’s visit has received great attention in Cuba. Before the visit, Cuban revolutionary leader Raul Castro made a special trip to see him off at the airport.
  ”Díaz-Canel is the first American leader to visit China after the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, which reflects the high degree of political mutual trust between the two countries,” said Han Han. Since Díaz-Canel took office as the leader of Cuba, he has faced many challenges – the economic situation is not optimistic, the US sanctions are increasing, and the new crown pneumonia epidemic is raging. However, the friendly cooperation between Cuba and China continues to make new progress. Last year, the trade volume between Cuba and China exceeded 1 billion U.S. dollars (about 7.167 billion yuan). Chinese companies also contracted projects worth 8.33 billion U.S. dollars (about 59.7 billion yuan) in Cuba, improving the local infrastructure. Under the framework of the joint construction of the “Belt and Road”, the two sides have deepened economic and trade exchanges, and the types of imported and exported commodities have become increasingly rich, bringing tangible benefits to the people of the two countries.
  Before visiting China, Dias-Canel also visited Algeria, Russia and Turkey. Industry analysts believe that this intensive study visit is inseparable from his pragmatic style – in recent months, the power shortage problem in Cuba has become more prominent. On the one hand, the equipment of domestic power plants is aging, on the other hand, international energy prices have soared. Both Russia and Algeria are important energy suppliers to Cuba. China has built the world’s largest power system and is also Cuba’s largest trading partner.
  According to Han Han’s analysis, Diaz-Canel hopes to solve problems in the energy field through extensive visits, which is especially important for Cuba, which is facing difficulties.

On May 1, 2022, millions of people in Cuba took to the streets to oppose the U.S. blockade against Cuba and express their patriotic sentiments. Cuban revolutionary leader Raul Castro (right) and Cuban President Diaz-Canel Waving to the parade from the reviewing stand at the Revolution Square in Havana, the capital.
Efforts to break the US blockade

  In Han Han’s view, how to reduce the impact of the US blockade by strengthening relations with partners in different regions is another focus of Dias-Canel’s visit. “Cuba is currently facing a severe situation. After the outbreak of the epidemic, the US sanctions against Cuba have exacerbated the economic and other difficulties facing Cuba.” US sanctions have brought huge economic losses and
  serious humanitarian disasters to Cuba. Since 1992, Cuba has proposed to the United Nations General Assembly every year, demanding that the United States end the embargo and sanctions against Cuba. This has won the support of most countries – the vast majority of countries in the world oppose the US’s unilateral sanctions against Cuba. In November 2022, the 77th UN General Assembly once again adopted a resolution with an overwhelming majority of 185 votes in favor, 2 votes against, and 2 abstentions, demanding that the United States end the economic, commercial and financial embargo against Cuba. This is also the 30th consecutive time that the UN General Assembly has adopted a similar resolution with an overwhelming majority.
  Han Han’s analysis: “Under the special geopolitical conditions adjacent to the United States, Cuba-US relations have long been an important factor affecting Cuba’s foreign relations. Former US President Barack Obama’s restoration of Cuba-US diplomatic relations may be due to the pursuit of his own ruling legacy. But the long-term Look, without changing the country’s political system in Cuba, it is difficult to make substantive changes in US-Cuba relations. Neither Trump nor Biden has made improving US-Cuba relations a diplomatic priority, and they have no intention of lifting sanctions against Cuba.”

  Díaz-Canel is very clear that, as a socialist country close to the United States, Cuba must establish, maintain and develop extensive bilateral diplomatic relations, and accumulate rich experience in participating in international and regional multilateral organizations, so as to continuously enhance its own influence . Only in this way can Cuba have greater capital in dealing with the relationship with the United States and break the US sanctions. He once publicly stated: “While adhering to an independent foreign policy, I will strive to make Cuba’s diplomatic relations more diversified. Cuba will not accept any conditions imposed on Cuba from the outside; I will strengthen collective leadership and expand people’s participation in politics. Strengthen unity, continue the revolution and build a prosperous and sustainable socialism.”
  Analysts believe that Cuba-US relations are the biggest challenge facing Dias-Canel. He once criticized the United States at an internal meeting of the Cuban Communist Party and firmly opposed American interference in Cuban affairs. In order to counter the United States more effectively in the Internet age, he became the first Cuban leader to protest through social networks.
  However, Cuba is not anti-American for the sake of being anti-American. What it opposes is the attempt by the United States to change the color of the Cuban regime. Raul Castro once said: “It is possible for Cuba and the United States to establish a cooperative and mutually beneficial relationship, but the United States should not imagine that Cuba will make concessions on the principles of defending socialism, sovereignty, and independence.” This is actually the same as Diaz-Canel Implemented diplomatic principles toward the United States – when he took over the national power, he promised: “I will consult Raúl Castro for major decisions related to the destiny of the Cuban country. He will also continue to provide opinions and opinions.”
People expect him

  ”The intuitive impression he gives people is that he is tall, with gray hair, a soft voice, and a young man with a calm personality. The public is full of expectations for the new atmosphere he may bring.” Someone who has seen Dias-Canel People described their impression of the Cuban leader to reporters in this way.
  In 1960, the second year after the victory of the Cuban Revolution, Díaz-Canel was born in an ordinary family in Santa Clara. His father was a machine factory worker and his mother was a primary school teacher. Dias-Canel’s early career choices were largely influenced by his family. After graduating from university in 1982, he first served in the military and worked as a radio expert for three years, then returned to his alma mater, Las Villas Central University, and became a teacher at the school. When he was young, Dias-Canel had long flowing brown hair and often wore jeans and a sports shirt. He was a rock youth and claimed to be a die-hard fan of the famous British rock band The Beatles.

Díaz-Canel in his youth.

Posters with the Castro brothers hanging on the streets of Havana, Cuba.

Díaz-Canel speaks at the 2013 CELAC First Ministerial Conference.

Diaz-Canel attended the meeting with Raúl (left).

  In 1993, at the age of 33, he was elected as the second secretary of the National Committee of the Cuban Communist Youth League and began his political career. A year later, Diaz-Canel served as the first secretary of the Bia Clara Provincial Party Committee and took charge of the local government. According to Liu Yuqin, the former Chinese ambassador to Cuba, Diaz-Canel seldom sat in the office when he was the first secretary of the Provincial Party Committee, and visited the local agricultural cooperatives, schools, and enterprises almost every two months to learn about the actual situation. “When he was inspecting, people surrounded him and asked questions freely, which was very natural.” In
  2003, he was transferred to Holguin Province as the first secretary of the Provincial Party Committee. This is the hometown of the Castro brothers, and it is here that Dias-Canel gradually gained the trust of Raul with his friendly and pragmatic work style. Lauer publicly praised him for his “strong sense of collective work and solid ideology”. Under Raul’s recommendation, Dias-Canel entered the Political Bureau of the Cuban Communist Party Central Committee in 2003 and became the youngest member of the Political Bureau of the Cuban Communist Party. Six years later, he was transferred from Holguin Province to serve as Minister of Higher Education in Cuba.
  Dias-Canel is flexible in his actions. On the one hand, he firmly defends the national system, and on the other hand, he steadily promotes opening up. He encouraged popularization of the Internet and asked the media to provide more information to the public. When he was Minister of Higher Education, a group of Cuban scholars established a blog called “Young Cuba”. While recognizing Cuba’s socialist road, they criticize the country’s corruption and inefficiency, and actively seek to change strategies. Some participants recalled that the blog was closed for a time, but Dias-Canel convened a discussion with relevant personnel to learn about the situation and exchange views with them.
  Although Diaz-Canel is equipped with an official car, as a descendant of a worker, he is more accustomed to riding a bicycle to get to know the people’s conditions. Local people often see him wearing a shirt with the head of the famous Latin American revolutionary Che Guevara on it. T-shirts, waiting patiently in the long queue at the pizzeria for pizza. This style has won praise from all walks of life. At the beginning of 2013, Raul announced that he would retire in 2018 after he was re-elected as the chairman of the Council of State. At the same time, Dias-Canel was promoted to the first vice-chairman of the Council of State, becoming the first “post-60s” to serve as Cuba’s “No. 2 figure”, which caused quite a stir at the time. Since then, he has participated in high-level meetings almost every week, and frequently accompanied Raul on foreign visits. The outside world generally believes that this is actually Raul training the “successor” in advance. In 2021, Dias-Canel will succeed the 89-year-old Raul as the first secretary of the Cuban Communist Party. Raul said: “Given his virtues, experience and dedication to work, he will achieve excellent results after serving as the country’s top leader.” “His election is not accidental, it
  is the result of the long-term inspection and training of the Cuban Communist Party. According to Han Han’s analysis, Diaz-Canel started from the local area and practiced step by step, which is in line with Raul’s idea of ​​​​selecting talents from the grassroots.
facing complex challenges

  Although Diaz-Canel is described as a “younger, more easy-going copy of Raul”, he was born after the victory of the Cuban Revolution, and his status in the hearts of the people cannot keep up with the leaders who have experienced the Revolutionary War. Improve your prestige more through hard work. On the premise of inheriting the revolutionary spirit of the older generation of leaders, ensuring the stability of Cuban society and the continuation of the social system, Dias-Canel still faces multiple challenges.
  The first is to accelerate the “renewal” of Cuba’s economic and social model. At the time when the leadership of the Cuban Communist Party is changing from old to new, Cuba is facing difficult times: the epidemic is raging, the economic crisis, and supplies are in short supply… At the same time, Cuba has been blocked by the United States for a long time, making it even more difficult to achieve comprehensive economic and social development.
  The second is how to continue Cuba’s international influence. Han Han believes that in the region, how to improve relations with left-wing countries in Latin America is a test of the diplomatic ability of leaders. At the same time, how to continue its relations with countries outside the region and maintain its multiple diplomatic advantages is also the key to determining whether Cuba can obtain more external support and promote its own development.
  The current Latin American political landscape is undergoing a new round of profound adjustments. China-Latin America cooperation is essentially South-South cooperation, based on mutual respect, based on the principle of mutual benefit and win-win results, characterized by openness and inclusiveness, and aimed at common development.
  For a long time, Latin American politics has been characterized by alternating left-wing and left-wing governance. With Brazil’s Lula, Chile’s Boric, and Colombia’s Petro winning or coming to power successively, plus Mexico and Argentina, where left-wing politicians are in power, Latin America For the first time, the five major economies are all in the hands of left-wing forces. What does this wave of the left mean for Cuba? Han Han said: “First of all, there are differences in the ruling philosophy and left-wing ideas between the new left wing and the traditional left wing. Second, the economic environment at home and abroad in various countries is relatively severe, and the ruling party is facing the test of boosting the economy. Third, the leaders of the new left wing There are also differences in attitudes towards Cuba.” She believes that the regional left-wing ruling cycle is conducive to easing relations between Cuba and regional countries, but how to form a new left-wing alliance in the region may be a common challenge for Cuba and other Latin American left-wing leaders.
  Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez
  Born in 1960, he has successively served as the first secretary of the Provincial Party Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba in Villa Clara and Holguin, the minister of the Cuban Ministry of Higher Education, the vice chairman of the Council of Ministers, the first vice chairman of the Council of State and the first vice chairman of the Council of Ministers, etc. In April 2018, he served as the chairman of the Cuban Council of State and the chairman of the Council of Ministers. In October 2019, he was elected the first President of the Republic of Cuba. In April 2021, he was elected as the first secretary of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party.

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