Raul Castro, center, First Secretary of the Communist Party and former president talks with the member of the assembly while…
Former Cuban President Raul Castro, center, talks with a member of the assembly while Cuban Prime Minister Manuel Marrero Cruz, center left, looks on at the National Assembly of Popular Power in Havana, Cuba, Dec. 21, 2019.

HAVANA - Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel on Saturday named Tourism Minister Manuel Marrero Cruz as the country's first prime minister since 1976 — a nomination quickly confirmed by the country's parliament. 

Marrero, 56, has been tourism minister for 16 years, presiding over a rise in visitors and a hotel construction boom that has made tourism one of the most important sectors of the Cuban economy. 

Diaz-Canel cited Marrero's experience in negotiating with foreign investors as one of his prime qualifications, according to state media. 

The position of prime minister was held by Fidel Castro from 1959 to 1976, when a new constitution changed his title to president and eliminated the post of prime minister. 

Castro and his brother Raul held the presidential post along with Cuba's other highest positions, like Communist Party leader, until this year, when Raul Castro stepped down as president and a new constitution divided the president's responsibilities between Castro's successor, Miguel Diaz-Canel, and the new post of prime minister. 

The new constitution envisions the prime minister as responsible for the daily operations of government as head of the Council of Ministers. 

The prime minister has a five-year term and is nominated by the president.