No more Castros: Miguel Diaz-Canel next President of Cuba

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cuba-president.jpgCuba today selected 57-year-old First Vice President Miguel Mario Diaz-Canel Bermudez as the sole candidate to succeed Raul Castro as president of Cuba, the centerpiece of an effort to ensure that the country's single-party system outlasts the aging revolutionaries who created it.

The virtually certain unanimous approval of the National Assembly will install someone from outside the Castro family in the country's highest government office for the first time in nearly six decades.

The 86-year-old Castro will remain head of the Communist Party, designated by the constitution as "the superior guiding force of society and the state."

As a result, Castro is almost certain to remain the most powerful person in Cuba for the time being.

His departure from the presidency is nonetheless a symbolically charged moment for a country accustomed to 60 years of absolute rule first by revolutionary leader Fidel Castro and, for the last decade, his younger brother.

Facing biological reality, Raul Castro is working to ensure a smooth transition from him and his small group of former guerrillas to a new generation that can maintain the government's grip on power in the face of economic stagnation, an aging population and waning revolutionary fervor among Cuban youth attuned more to global consumer culture than the anti-capitalist, nationalist messaging of the state-run media.

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