Castro, 84, Proposes Age Limit for Leaders

Castro, 84, Proposes Age Limit for LeadersCastro, 84, Proposes Age Limit for Leaders

Future top leaders of Cuba’s Communist party should retire at 70 to let in younger blood, President Raul Castro said on Saturday.

Cuba’s current leaders include several septuagenarian or octogenarian veterans of Fidel Castro’s 1959 revolution. There is a growing urgency for them to make succession plans to keep the party alive once they are gone.

His comments during a two-hour speech at the inauguration of the Communist Party’s twice-per-decade congress were met with silence, perhaps because some members were disappointed with the idea, Reuters reported.

“So serious! What silence is caused by this subject. Don’t think that just because you can’t be in the leadership of the country you can’t do anything,” Castro said.

Before the congress, the current party leadership faced some discontent among younger members critical of the slow delivery on promised economic reforms in the past five years and a lack of transparency.

Fidel Castro, whose 90th birthday is in August, retired in 2008 after a serious illness and his younger brother took over, introducing a limit of two five-year terms for leaders.

The proposed new rules would affect new entrants into the leadership and must be approved by the party over the course of the four-day congress. Castro said there should then be a constitutional amendment and a referendum to codify this and other reforms.

Castro proposed that 60 years be fixed as the age limit for entering the party’s central committee and up to 70 years as the maximum age to perform duties in the party leadership, saying the new rules would have a knock-on effect of bringing younger leaders up through the ranks more quickly.

On Monday, the party is due to vote for a new leadership and is expected to reelect Castro and the party number two Jose Ramon Machado Ventura, 85. Presumably, the new rules would not apply to them because they are already within the leadership.

Castro reiterated that he would step down as president of the nation in 2018.