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On Thursday 17 May, Canning House hosted an event on Cuba, one month after Parliament nominated Miguel Díaz-Canel to take over from Raul Castro as president. As the first non-Castro to hold this position in modern-day Cuba, Díaz-Canel faces a number of challenges, not least economic ones.
Canning House was delighted to welcome an expert panel to discuss the post-Castro challenges in Cuba: Professor Antoni Kapcia, from the Cuba Research Forum at the University of Nottingham; Dr Emily Morris, Honorary Research Associate at UCL's Institute of the Americas; and Professor Ricardo Torres, professor and deputy director of the Centre of Cuban Economic Studies at the University of La Havana. Regrettably, Professor Jorge Peña Diaz was unable to attend due to his flight being cancelled. Baroness Hooper, Honorary Vice-President of Canning House, chaired the event.
Panellists' in-depth presentations covered the historical context leading to Díaz-Canel taking over the presidency, as well as the current economic situation, and the challenges ahead. Out of the many points made, speakers noted that Díaz-Canel will have to work to earn the respect that the Castros had. Amongst the economic issues he will have to deal with are the question of the dual currency, an increase in jobs in the informal sector, and how to attract more foreign investment.
Following the presentations, Her Excellency Teresita Sotolongo, Cuban Ambassador to the UK, made some comments from the floor. Questions from the audience covered a variety of issues, including whether there is political will in Cuba behind ending the US embargo, and if the country has begun to diversify its economic partners in light of the Venezuelan crisis.
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