Miguel Diaz-Canel elected as Cuba's new President

The Latest Pence tweets response to Cuba's Raul Castro

Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez was born a year after Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro came to power.

"Cuba needs you", he said, prompting the more than 600 National Assembly members to rise to their feet and give the 86-year-old former leader a standing ovation. After the terms expire in 2028, Diaz-Canel should use his other position as the head of the Communist party to guide his own successor before stepping down in 2031.

"The Revolution continues and will continue", said Diaz-Canel during his first speech as the new president of Cuba before a plenary session of the National Assembly, where he affirmed that "the Cuban Revolution continues to be olive green and ready for future battles". "We're a generation born after the revolution, whose responsibility is driving the destiny of the nation".

The chamber erupted into applause as the result was read out, with numerous delegates smiling, and shaking hands warmly with Castro and Diaz-Canel. Diaz-Canel was the only candidate.

It was a historic, though understated, handover. Fidel Castro died in 2016 at age 90. Thursday's symbolic vote took place on the anniversary of the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion, when Fidel's forces defeated 1,400 US-backed rebels seeking to overthrow him. "'There is no room for those who aspire to a capitalist restoration", he said.

Although he has advocated fewer restrictions on the media and a greater openness to the internet, he also has a ruthless streak, with harsh words for Cuba's dissidents and the US. The President will still have to answer to Castro, who will remain head of the Communist Party.

Mr Diaz-Canel, a stalwart of the ruling Communist party for more than 30 years, was sworn in by the National Assembly to replace Raul Castro, with the 57-year-old gaining votes from 603 of the 604 lawmakers present.

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The communist revolution in Cuba "carries on and will carry on", he said.

Raul Castro also commented on the halting thaw between Cuba and the USA, saying that Donald Trump's election victory set bilateral ties back again.

In 2015, Havana and Washington renewed diplomatic ties, with then president Barack Obama making a historic visit to the island a year later.

The Trump administration does not see the Cuban people gaining greater freedoms under Cuba's newly installed president and has no intention of softening its policy toward the island's Communist government, a White House official said on Thursday.

But Diaz-Canel has also publicly defended bloggers and academics who were critical of the Cuban government, under a system that represses dissent and is intolerant of criticism.

Cuba watchers and domestic analysts say he will favour continuity over change in the early days of his presidency, however.

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