After the Castros: on Cuban politics –

As Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez assumes charge as Cuba’s first ‘non-Castro’ leader in decades, Havana-watchers will look for cues of change or continuity in a country that once ymbolized global anti-imperialist revolution. With Latin America’s socialist upsurge of the last decade in retreat and Cuba’s economy in anything but robust health, the answers should be evident. Mr. Díaz-Canel is a veteran Communist Party apparatchik, who served as Vice President during Raúl Castro’s second five-year term since 2013. It will be no easy task for the former education minister, handpicked by Mr. Castro, to stamp his authority over a rigid bureaucratic and party apparatus. But Mr. Díaz-Canel can count on Mr. Castro’s political backing as the latter is expected to continue as head of the party and the armed forces for some more years. Sustaining Cuba’s education and health-care services will be a formidablechallenge for the President. In the absence of the handsome bailouts of the Venezuelan oil boom time or the Soviet-era subsidies, the government should prioritise attention to these basic services. Another challenge is to reform the economy to attract more investment to major industry sectors and to boost growth and jobs. Mr. Díaz-Canel is the country’s first high-ranking politician to be elevated from among those outside the young guerrillas who fought in the Cuban revolution. It may therefore be reasonable to expect a more pragmatic stance on Havana’s part towards its ideological opponents, notwithstanding the pre-eminence of the Communist Party — even if the détente between the U.S. and Cuba that began during Barack Obama’s presidency has been in something of a limbo under Donald Trump. The spotlight in recent days has inevitably shone on the transition after the long Castro legacy in Latin America. In this process, an important aspect about the beginning of a new chapter should not be overlooked. Mr. Díaz-Canel’s ascent bucks the regional trend where leaders routinely seek recourse to constitutional meddling to secure extensions of presidential tenures. The succession plan was more or less scripted by Mr. Castro at the commencement of his second term in 2013, when he spoke of age and term limits for high office. It would be cynical to dismiss the development as no more than a cosmetic change within the larger framework of Cuba’s one-party rule. But then, there are countries across the world where many populists and strongmen have tinkered with the constitution to extend their terms in office, reducing competitive party politics to a charade. Mr. Díaz-Canel’s is a leadership change that Cuba should make the most of, in order to refresh its domestic and foreign policies.



Meaning: To represent something.

Example: The lighting of the Olympic torch symbolizes peace and friendship among the nations of the world.

Synonyms: Represent, Exemplify


Meaning: Supporting or relating to imperialism.

Example: An imperialist power.


Meaning: An upward surge in the strength or quantity of something; an increase.

Example: “an upsurge in vandalism and violent crime”


Meaning: The act of going away from a person or place because you are unwilling to fight any more or are frightened.

Example: Rebel soldiers were in (full) retreat.

Synonyms: Withdrawal, Flight


Meaning: Strong and healthy; vigorous.

Example: “the Caplan family are a robust lot”

Synonyms: Strong, Powerful

Antonyms: Weak, Frail

24) Apparatchik

Meaning: A loyal and senior member of a political party, especially the Communist Party in the former USSR.

Example: A former apparatchik in the Communist Party, she became a diplomat.


Meaning: Select carefully with a particular purpose in mind.

Example: “a small hand-picked group of MPs”

Synonyms: Choice, Elite

Antonyms: Random


Meaning: The complex structure of a particular organization or system.

Example: “the apparatus of government”

Synonyms: Structure, System


Meaning: Inspiring fear or respect through being impressively large, powerful, intense, or capable.

Example: “a formidable opponent”

Synonyms: Daunting, Alarming

Antonyms: Easy, Weak


Meaning: The process of saving a company, plan, or other thing from failing by providing lots of money.

Example: The government mounted a massive bailout of troubled savings and loan institutions.


Meaning: A period of sudden economic growth, especially one that results in a lot of money being made.

Example: The insurance business suffered from a vicious cycle of boom and bust.


Meaning: Dealing with things sensibly and realistically in a way that is based on practical rather than theoretical considerations.

Example: “a pragmatic approach to politics”


Meaning: The easing of hostility or strained relations, especially between countries.

Example: “his policy of arms control and detente with the Soviet Union”


Meaning: An uncertain period of awaiting a decision or resolution; an intermediate state or condition.

Example: “the legal battle could leave the club in limbo until next year”

Synonyms: Unfinished, Incomplete

Antonyms: Underway


Meaning: (of a person) receiving a lot of public attention:

Example: The senator has been in the spotlight recently since the revelation of his tax frauds.


Meaning: As is certain to happen; unavoidably.

Example: “inevitably some details are already out of date”

Synonyms: Naturally, Automatically


Meaning: An amount of money or property left to someone in a will.

Example: “my grandmother died and unexpectedly left me a small legacy”

Synonyms: Inheritance, Heritage


Meaning: To fail to notice or consider something or someone.

Example: I think there is one key fact that you have overlooked.


Meaning: A source of help in a difficult situation.

Example: “surgery may be the only recourse”

Synonyms: Option, Alternative


Meaning: Interfere in something that is not one’s concern.

Example: “I don’t want him meddling in our affairs”

Synonyms: Interfere, Intrude


Meaning: Doubtful as to whether something will happen or whether it is worthwhile.

Example: “most residents are cynical about efforts to clean mobsters out of their city”

Synonyms: Doubtful, Suspicious

Antonyms: Optimistic, Credulous


Meaning: Attempt to repair or improve something in a casual or desultory way.

Example: “he spent hours tinkering with the car”

Synonyms: Correcting, Mending