UNT professor comments on the change of presidential power in Cuba

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

On Sunday, Feb. 24, Cuba's National Assembly selected 76-year-old Raúl Castro as the country's new president and head of Cuba's Council of State, after nearly five decades of rule by Fidel Castro. The elder Castro, 81, ceded temporary authority over the government to his younger brother in August 2006 while he convalesced from intestinal surgery, but his health never recovered enough to allow him to resume his duties as head of state.

Some Cuban-Americans have celebrated the formal transition of power, but Dr. John Booth, University of North Texas Regents Professor of political science, points out that rapid change is not likely to happen in the near future. Just as he did during his 18-month interim term as president, Raúl Castro will probably continue striving for system stability and continuity as head of state, Booth says.

 "A sudden wave of reform seems unlikely, although some gradual opening of the hard-strapped economy may occur. Changing entrenched socialism will be a slow project," Booth says. "When Fidel Castro eventually dies, there will be a great deal of pressure from Cuban-Americans and the U.S. government for a drastic change of leadership and an end to communist rule. But there will also be considerable institutional inertia and resistance to liberalization."

Booth specializes in Latin American politics and has taught courses on Latin American political systems and on political culture and participation. He is fluent in Spanish, having lived in Spain, Mexico and Costa Rica.

Booth can be reached at:

Office phone number: (940) 565-2684
Cell phone number: (940) 368-9498Other phone number: (940) 382-3956

UNT News Service Phone Number: (940) 565-2108

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