GUANTANAMO, CUBA President Miguel Diaz-Canel started the day in a small city overlooking the American naval base at Guantanamo Bay. He decried the U.S. commerce embargo, then inspected a collection of state-run enterprises alongside members of his Cupboard.
By mid-afternoon, he and his ministers held an hour-long dialogue about agricultural productiveness earlier than an viewers of college college students.
Twelve hours after the day started, the 59-year-old president was shaking palms, kissing cheeks and singing on stage alongside performers in a authorities cultural middle within the coronary heart of Guantanamo, the capital of Cuba’s easternmost province.
Greater than 18 months after Diaz-Canel assumed the presidency, The Related Press was considered one of two international information organizations granted unprecedented entry Thursday to what has turn into a signature exercise of his administration, a whirlwind tour of considered one of Cuba’s 14 far-flung provinces.
With their glad-handing and micro-detailed evaluations of native public companies and infrastructure, the excursions have resurrected a Cuban management fashion that flourished underneath revolutionary chief Fidel Castro throughout his 4 a long time in energy. Castro’s brother and successor, Raul, had just about no interplay with the press or normal public after taking on in 2008. Raul Castro dominated for a decade earlier than he handed energy to Diaz-Canel.
Castro, 88, stays first secretary of Cuba’s Communist Get together, and says he expects Diaz-Canel to assume that function in 2021 and serve for a decade, making him probably the most highly effective determine in Cuba till a minimum of 2031.
Till this week, international media had not been invited on his journeys round Cuba, however they’re painstakingly documented in Cuban state media and on ministers’ social media accounts, which Diaz-Canel ordered his Cupboard members to open shortly after he took workplace.
A tall, powerfully constructed man with a raspy, monotone voice, Diaz-Canel has had nearly no contact with the international press since taking workplace. He spoke solely as soon as to the AP and different worldwide reporters on Thursday’s tour.
The Yankees maintain squeezing however we maintain resisting and successful, he stated, when requested about U.S. stress by an AP journalist at first of his swing via the city of Caimanera on Guantanamo Bay. We are going to battle again. They are going to by no means defeat us, and with everybody’s assist we’ll maintain advancing our concepts and the nation will maintain advancing.
Cubans don’t vote for his or her president and elections for native and nationwide meeting are referenda that supply a selection of sure or no for state-selected candidates. There aren’t any public opinion polls, and the Nationwide Meeting uniformly approves all laws put earlier than it by the chief department.
Cubans freely criticize the federal government in non-public, and more and more mock their leaders on social media. However repression of public dissent stays fierce and widespread, with state safety brokers harassing nonconformists starting from unbiased journalists to odd residents who complain about public companies.
Regardless of the near-total energy of the state and Communist Get together within the Cuban system, management isn’t as straightforward to exert because it was when Cuba was remoted and stored afloat first by Soviet then Venezuelan assist. Cubans are more and more related to the surface world via the web and air journey, and the island itself requires billions a yr in tourism income and remittances from expatriates to relations on the island.
Diaz-Canel has stated that communication with the general public can be considered one of his authorities’s prime priorities, and Thursday’s tour allowed international media a glimpse at his efforts to create a public picture of openness, contact with odd individuals and concern for the minutest particulars of native administration and public companies.
The president and his ministers visited greater than a dozen websites round Guantanamo’s capital and almost cities, receiving detailed reviews on manufacturing and enchancment plans at amenities starting from a milk plant to a plantain farm.
Overseas press have been allowed to doc three occasions through the day a go to to a film corridor within the city of Caimanera, the discussion board with college college students and a nighttime go to to Guantanamo’s metropolis middle. There, simply after 9 p.m., Diaz-Canel greeted musicians at a state-run cultural middle, sang a snatch of music onstage with a performer, went from desk to desk at a authorities restaurant subsequent door, then headed into the road to greet residents.
The occasions have been extremely orchestrated, with authorities supporters chanting Lengthy Stay Diaz-Canel! however had flashes of spontaneity. As Diaz-Canel ready to board his SUV and depart, a girl pushed previous safety and insisted on passing the president a bit of paper that appeared to have a request for assistance on it.
After the president departed, most of these remaining round Guantanamo’s central plaza have been native authorities officers or dozens of hulking plainclothes safety brokers who maintained management of the realm throughout Diaz-Canel’s go to and stored shut eyes on the international press and other people on the street.
One of many few precise bystanders was David Acosta a 70-year-old retired state worker who stated Diaz-Canel had proven himself to be a pacesetter involved about odd individuals.
He is a president who follows our revolutionary traditions, takes care of the nation’s wants and does not cover these issues that want enchancment, Acosta stated.