(Havana) Miguel Diaz-Canel, 62, was unsurprisingly re-elected on Wednesday to head the communist island of Cuba for a second and final term, in a country where the opposition is illegal and which is going through its worst crisis. economy in three decades.

The unique candidacy of this trained electronics engineer won 97.66% of the votes of the 470 members of the National Assembly.

“Given the results announced, I declare Miguel Mario Diaz-Canel Bermudez President of the Republic,” said Esteban Lazo, President of the National Assembly in the presence of Raul Castro, 92.

Mr. Diaz-Canel, First Secretary of the CPC since 2021, was in 2018 the first civilian to take the reins of the country after the presidencies of the brothers Fidel (1926-2016) and Raul Castro, in power since the triumph of the Cuban revolution in 1959.

He was tasked with accelerating the slow economic reform initiated by his predecessor and political mentor Raul Castro (2008-2018).

But he has not been able to stem the crisis that Cuba has been going through since 2018. It is the worst in three decades, with shortages of food, medicine and fuel, due to the tightening of the American embargo in place since 1962, and the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic which the government fought with nationally designed and developed vaccines.

In early 2021, he implemented a sweeping currency reform ending the dollar-to-Cuban peso rate that had prevailed for decades, but it caused significant distortions in the national economy.

It also encouraged self-employment and authorized SMEs, but these measures proved insufficient to improve the economic situation.

“He has not made a full and comprehensive transition to a mixed economy,” said Cuban international relations expert Arturo Lopez-Levy, based in the United States. “Some [planned] economic changes did not happen, and others left a lot of skepticism about their implementation.”

The monetary reform caused an inflationary spiral and a sharp devaluation of the peso, raising strong discontent among the population.

The Cuban currency went in two years from 24 to 120 pesos for one dollar at the official rate, while on the black market it is quoted at 185 pesos for one dollar.

Miguel Diaz-Canel said he was “displeased” that he could not “promote a more effective set of actions to solve these” economic problems, during a recent interview in Havana with the Lebanese television channel al-Mayadeen , considered close to Syria and Iran.

For opponent Manuel Cuesta, the “evidence” of his “re-election” comes “in the midst of a double economic crisis: that of the model and that of the state political powers responsible for finding appropriate solutions”.

One of Miguel Diaz-Canel’s “rare successes” was “the transition to a regime led by a new generation born after 1959, which does not bear the name of Castro,” said Jorge Duany of the International University of Florida.

He points out, however, that his “greatest failure was the mismanagement of the demonstrations” of July 2021, the largest on the island since 1959.

They left one dead and dozens injured. More than 1,300 people have also been arrested and nearly 500 sentenced to up to 25 years in prison, according to the Miami-based human rights organization Cubalex.

The crisis has led to the unprecedented exodus of more than 300,000 Cubans in 2022 alone.

Miguel Diaz-Canel knew how to pull the strings of the transition between the historical generation and the one he represents, but according to Arturo Lopez-Levy, he was trapped by his own slogan according to which he represents “continuity”, whereas ” what the country demands […] is continuous change.”