As Miguel Mario Díaz-Canel Bermudez officially became Cuba's new president last week, more black officials were notably chosen for high positions of power in the nation's new government than before, The New York Times reported.
Cuba's new council now includes three Afro-Cuban vice presidents: first vice president Salvador Valdes Mesa and vice presidents Inés María Chapman and Beatriz Jhonson. There are now three women in the new council total. Díaz-Canel's leadership will mark the first time the nation will have a president outside the Castro family in decades. Díaz-Canel's predecessor, 86-year-old Raul Castro, younger brother to Fidel Castro, will remain head of the Communist Party, TIME reported.
Although Cuba's new black leadership may represent significant progress, some skeptics doubt the change in leadership will greatly impact racial and economic discrimination against Afro-Cubans.
Ramón Colas, a black anti-Castro activist who sought political asylum in 2001, told The Times that while the new black leadership has "great significance," it will be even more impactful if the new black leaders used their positions of power to fight racial inequality.
"Yes, it has great significance," Colas said. "The Cuban revolution has historically been white, and seen from the outside as a revolution by white men, where black people were part of the crowd, spectators who were silent or applauded, but never participated." He added, "Wouldn’t it be great if they used those positions to say, ‘As a black Cuban, I am against injustice against black people in Cuba?' he said. "I doubt that they can do that. They are not allowed. Fidel declared that racism is a problem that ended.”