The last May 1 with a Castro?
As you may know, they take May 1 pretty seriously in Cuba. It is a national holiday, or another excuse to get a bunch of "workers" to show up for a big speech.
In the U.S., workers go to the beach on Labor Day. In Cuba, they get the day off to listen to a speech. It's been that way since the Castros came to power. For years, it was a long speech by Fidel Castro. This week, it will was a sobering message from Raúl Castro about the recession the country is in.
May 1, 2017 may also be the last one with a Castro in power, as news agencies are reporting:
The Cuban government's traditional May Day parade Monday is the last to be overseen by President Raul Castro – and the first without his late brother and revolutionary predecessor Fidel.
The May 1 rally draws hundreds of thousands of Cubans into Havana's Revolution Square in a sea of red, white and blue national flags and portraits of Fidel Castro.
But he died in November and Raul Castro, after just over a decade in power, has said he will step aside in February 2018.
Raul Castro has been cautiously opening up Cuba's state-run economy and strengthening its foreign relations – notably by re-establishing diplomatic ties with the United States.
But Monday's parade has the feel of the end of an era. It is not clear who will take Castro's place next year.
Most rumors suggest it will be Miguel Diaz-Canel, 56, vice-president of the State Council. Despite ministerial experience and party credentials, he is seen as lacking a support base in the military.
"There is very high uncertainty about 2018," said Pavel Vidal, a former official of Cuba's central bank and an academic at Colombia's Javeriana University.
"One could expect a process of continuity" of Raul Castro's reforms, he added, "but not at the same speed."
The so-called "continuity" could go in a couple of directions.
It may just be a superficial change. In other words, Raúl Castro will continue to run the show from his mansion in eastern Cuba. It's hard for me to believe that Castro is going to give the keys to "Castro Inc." to a bunch of people in the party. As we've posted, Castro Inc. is a big money enterprise.
At the same time, Raúl is in his late 80s, and I don't get the impression that he enjoys governing that much. He may take his millions and leave the scene altogether. Don't overlook that possibility, because Raúl may not want to be around when the roof caves in!
It won't happen right away, because there is loyalty to Raúl. I believe that the whole thing will collapse without a Castro. The regime was very good at surviving, but not at training the next line of managers to run the mess that the regime's policies created.