Most respondents described Raúl Castro as a pragmatic leader who, unlike Fidel, does not make policy decisions based on ideological convictions. They described him as more ruthless than Fidel, and many felt that their quality of life could become worse once his grip on power is complete. "Respondents" fundamental loyalty is to Fidel; they described themselves not as communists or socialists but "Fidelistas," and are skeptical that Raúl will inspire a following of "Raúlistas" or that he will overcome the Cuban people's emotional support for his brother. While Raúl is seen as running the day-to-day operations, Fidel is considered to be still very much "in charge." A 40-year old baseball coach "worries about Raúl," suggesting that Cubans see him as less measured than Fidel and more likely to fall apart under pressure.
In Villa Clara, respondents see Fidel as the one who brought Cubans together, due to his strong moral and ethical standing among his peers. They believe that he is unaware of the extent of corruption and the people's daily struggles.
Several Cubans commented on Raúl's leadership style, saying that he is very "shrewd." Some also mentioned Raúl's response to price gouging after the hurricane as reflective of his blunt leadership style. Though interviewees acknowledged Raúl stopped an unsavory practice in hurricane-affected regions, the effort severely harmed countless families throughout the island. A few respondents also remembered that Fidel always traveled to hard-hit areas after a natural disaster occurred. They remarked that they had not seen Raúl visiting hurricane victims as Fidel often had.
Other interviewees questioned Raúl's decision to choose people from his inner circle to serve in important government positions. For example, he passed over members of the younger generation of government leaders in favor of históricos who fought with him in the Sierra Maestra. Some of the younger respondents supported Felipe Pérez Roque, then the Minister of Foreign Affairs, as a future leader because he was not part of traditional politics of the older generation and understood how to manage necessary changes. Respondents interpret Raúl's selection of the older generation to mean that loyalty is valued more than competence, and that the future holds more of the same nepotism. Several young people in Holguín said that if they wanted a political career, they had to become part of the status quo.
A few interviewees described Raúl's leadership as the same as Fidel's, except for the few "cosmetic" changes. A 38-year old man said that Fidel and Raúl are "different dogs with the same collar," adding that he did not expect much from the younger brother. Another man said that recent reforms seem to have made the system more tolerant of Cubans' criticism. He described hearing radio shows featuring callers complaining about the political system, something he said was unthinkable a few years ago.