Cuba Communist Party mulls call for term limits

AP News
Posted: Oct 14, 2011 12:23 PM
Cuba Communist Party mulls call for term limits

Cuba's Communist Party announced that it is taking up Raul Castro's call to establish term limits for officials, including the president himself, as the country tries to promote younger leaders to take over from the graying revolutionaries who have been in charge since 1959.

The matter will be discussed in party meetings in the coming months and submitted for ratification at a National Conference on Jan. 28, according to an eight-page tabloid published Friday that lays out the agenda for the gathering.

The idea is to achieve a "gradual renewal in leadership," the document said, and "limit the discharge of fundamental political and government positions to a maximum of two consecutive periods of five years."

It did not say specifically which levels of government would be affected, but Castro proposed at a Party summit in April that even presidential terms be limited. Astonishing the world and the nation after 52 years with either him or his elder brother Fidel in charge, Castro spoke of the need for a "systematic rejuvenation."

Castro said then that he and Fidel had tried to promote young leaders but they hadn't worked out well _ perhaps a reference to the 2009 firing of Cuba's photogenic foreign minister and vice president, who were later accused of lusting too obviously for power.

"Today we face the consequences of not having a reserve of substitutes ready," Castro said in April.

Such talk raised speculation that younger officials would rise to the top echelons of power, but Castro, now 80 years old, has largely surrounded himself with stalwarts from the revolutionary old guard.

The document published Friday also spoke of a need to promote racial and sexual diversity in positions of responsibility.

It reaffirmed the Communist Party's position as the only one allowed in Cuba and warned that the government's foreign enemies are lurking and waiting to pounce.

"The imperialists pin their hopes on the supposed vulnerability of the new generations. ... They try to foment division, apathy, dismay ... and a lack of confidence in the leadership of the revolution and the party," it said.

"They try to show a society without future in order to turn back socialism, to strip us of independence and revolutionary achievements."