Cuba in Change, Part IV: Stability prioritized in politics and diplomacy

In May, Barack Obama paid the first ever presidential visit of the United States to Havana in more than 80 decades, after both countries resumed diplomatic ties in July 2015.
The aura seemed warm, and even entertaining at some junctions.

The episode featuring the participation of Obama upgraded Vivir del Cuento, the most popular comedy show in Cuba, into a viral success worldwide right after the visit was concluded.
The scene was recorded during his visit to Havana on March 21, featuring the president playing a game of dominoes with three average Cubans.

(Soundbite) LUIS SILVA, Cuban Comedian
“The message we want to convey is that the relations between the two countries hopefully don’t impasse again like dominoes. There has to be from now on friendship, respect and dialogue between the two governments. We believe in a better future.”

(On-Site Sound: Obama: It’s not easy. Silva: It’s not easy, but is not difficult either!)

However, Cuban leaders remain sober, never changing their pricking stance of the United States for intending to transform and even upend their country.

(On-Site Sound: Raul Waving Hand, Delegates Clapping Hands)

Dark suit but no tie, Raul Castro kicked off the 7th Congress of the Cuban Communist Party (PCC) in Havana on April 16, setting the political tone for the island country in the next 5 years.

(Soundbite) Raul Castro, PCC First Secretary and Cuban President
“The neo-liberal formulas and internal voices in the country that demand privatization of state property and social services like health, education and social security will never be applied in Cuba’s socialism.”

Raul stressed that social justice would be upheld, while the Caribbean country continued its process of economic reforms to update its socialist system.
And, most importantly, he won a second and final five-year term as PCC’s First Secretary at the closing session on April 19.

(Soundbite) Raul Castro, Party Secretary General
“For me, as it is not a secret, in 2018 my second term as President of the Council of State and Ministers will come to an end. I will hand over that responsibility to whoever is elected.”

Meanwhile, the appearance of Fidel Castro triggered off long ovation and handclapping among the 1,000 delegates.
(Soundbite) Fidel Castro, Former Cuban Leader
“Maybe it is the last time I talk in this room. I vote for all the delegates who submit consultation to the Congress, and I appreciate your invitation and the honor of being here.”

In the speech, Fidel expressed support for the process of economic and social reforms anchored by his younger brother and successor Raul Castro in his last five years as party leader and president of the island state.
Fidel established the communist Cuba in 1959, left his official duties in 2006 due to health reasons, and later transferred all his power to his younger brother. He will be 90 years old in August.

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