In his acceptance speech Raul acknowledged that Cuba faced problems and he spoke of the need for economic reform he declared that he would consult his ailing brother on all important decisions. “I accept the responsibility I have been given with the conviction I have repeated often: there is only one Commander in Chief of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel is Fidel and we all know it well.” The National Assembly, appointed hardliner José Ramón Machado Ventura as Raul’s Castro’s deputy. Moderniser Carlos Lage, 56, had been tipped for the post.
Raúl was responsible for the execution hundreds of opponents after his brother’s defeat of the Batista regime in 1959. He has a reputation for being more politically repressive than his brother. He is more pragmatic on economic matters and is said to admire China’s model of economic reform while retaining strict political control. He is also said to be an efficient manager and good delegator - “Fidel is the political brother. Raúl is the practical one,” said his niece Alina Fernández who lives in Miami.
Raul Castro inherits a run-down country which a crumbling infrastructure. How he governs in practice remains to be seen. The indications are a bit more economic liberalism but no improvement in human rights. An improvement in US-Cuban relationships is unlikely.