Fulton Armstrong opened the workshop by describing the assumptions the participants would make in analyzing the prospects for political succession in Cuba. First, they could assume that Fidel Castro wants a "legacy" whereby his own followers would be in charge after he abdicates. Second, Castro's people want to stay in power afterwards and therefore need a "Plan" that is not widely known. Third, Castro is involved in this planning, but is not likely to hand over power in advance, as he would like to control the change. Fourth and last, as no one can fill Castro's role precisely, how much change is likely and how fast will it come?
The key variables that the participants were asked to consider were level of violence (if any) upon regime change, military/state security support of transition, the credibility of the Cuban Communist Party (CCP) during transition, existence of an united opposition (i.e. with or without popular support), and the likely international reaction to these events.