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Cuban president marks change of style with first tweet

Friday, October 12, 2018

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HAVANA, Cuba (AFP) — Cuba's President Miguel Diaz-Canel sent his first message on Twitter on Wednesday, helping to set a new tone as leader of the Communist-run island compared with his predecessors the Castros.

Diaz-Canel's maiden tweet was a run of the mill declaration of patriotism, but observers saw it as the beginning of a quest for the hearts and minds of a nation that knows relatively little about him.

The Cuban leader marked the 150th anniversary of the start of Cuba's war of independence with his tweet, saying he was at La Demajagua farm in eastern Cuba where it all began.

“We are in La Demajagua, the place with the greatest patriotic sentiment #WeAreCuba and #WeAreContinuity,” wrote the 58-year-old communist leader, who took over when the ageing Raul Castro stepped aside in April.

The foreign ministry ensured the tweet, written in Spanish, would not go unnoticed, marking the occasion with a tweet of its own “welcoming the official Twitter account of the president of the councils of state of ministers”.

Neither Fidel nor Raul had an official Twitter account.

Diaz-Canel, Raul's former deputy, has prioritised Cuba's digital development.

Observers say Twitter will bring Diaz-Canel closer to a population that is still getting to know their new leader, the island's first not named Castro. The former engineer is the first Cuban leader not to have fought in the revolution and doesn't enjoy the same legitimacy as his illustrious predecessors.

Cuba on Tuesday issued a postage stamp bearing the image of Fidel Castro, two years after his death.

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