"As expected, Cuban President Raúl Castro stepped down from power on April 19, 2018, and the communist government's 605-member National Assembly of People's Power selected First Vice President Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez as president of the Council of State. Pursuant to Cuba's Constitution (Article 74), the president of the Council of State is also Cuba's head of state and government. Castro, currently 86 years old, just finished his second five-year term as president. He will remain in his position as first secretary of the Cuban Communist Party (PCC), which could give him continued influence over government policy. [...] Although some analysts believe Díaz-Canel to be a moderate and potentially more open to reform, a leaked video from August 2017 appears to contradict that characterization. The video shows him speaking at a closed Communist Party meeting earlier in the year strongly criticizing dissidents and independent voices (including those arguing for political reform), criticizing the expansion of Cuba's private sector, and characterizing U.S. efforts toward normalization under President Obama as an attempt to destroy the Cuban revolution. Some observers speculate that Díaz-Canel's rhetoric could have been aimed at increasing his acceptance by so-called hard-liners in Cuba's political system who are more resistant to change."
CRS Insight, IN10885
Federation of American Scientists: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/index.html