Cuba: Leadership Change and its Impact

George H. Walker III (Ambassador to Hungary, 2003-2006)


It is now public knowledge that Fidel’s brother, Raul Castro, intends to step down as President of Cuba in 2018. Questions arise regarding the effect this development will have on the Cuban Revolution and how this will impact the relationship between Cuba and the United States.

Since Raul stepped into the Presidency at the time of his brother’s health problems, tourism has been encouraged including with U.S. citizens. Tight restrictions on immigration have also been loosened. Under Raul there has been more openness, even towards the U.S. It can be presumed that this trend will continue resulting in Cuba becoming more open to U.S. investment and even trade.

Nevertheless Cuba’s commitment to socialism and to tight state control of the media and the justice system is not likely to change. However the inevitable flow of information to Cuban citizens will surely increase, resulting in the gradual undermining of strict government control.

The relationship between Cuba and the U.S., which now resembles that of two estranged and angry partners, is likely to soften and become less antagonistic. The embargo is likely to be modified if not lifted. Limited trade can be expected. All of this will probably result in a more healthy and productive relationship after the Castro brothers are gone from the scene.