Raul Castro’s decision step aside as Cuba’s president was met with great fanfare, but the move does not mean the end of 59-years of Castro rule over the island. Caribbean scholar Jose Buscaglia, a pioneer in Cuban studies since 1997, says Castro’s maneuver is designed to “hand the hot potato” of financial reform to his successor, Miguel Díaz-Canel, while maintaining the real power for himself.
How the United States responds to this shrewd political gambit will have far-reaching consequences on the global and national levels, according to Buscaglia. Because the Cuban economy is in such perilous shape, he said, continued U.S. economic pressure could drive the island nation to seek assistance from China, and potentially undermine U.S. national security.
On a more local level, strained relations could impede the momentum Northeastern has built in establishing education and research initiatives on the historically insular island.