Cuba

Castro rule nears end in Cuba

MNA International Desk: Cuba is poised for the end of an era on Thursday as President Raul Castro steps down, formally handing power to his long-time deputy Miguel Diaz-Canel and thereby ending his family’s six-decade grip on the island.

The silver-haired Diaz-Canel, 57 — a top Communist Party figure who has served as first vice president since 2013 — will become the island’s first leader born after the 1959 revolution, and the first in 60 years who is not named Castro.

Between them, father of the nation Fidel and his younger brother Raul made the Caribbean island a key player in the Cold War and helped keep communism afloat despite the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Raul, now 86, has been in power since 2006, when he took over after illness sidelined Fidel, who seized power in the revolution.

Diaz-Canel, who has spent years climbing the party ranks, was named the sole candidate for the presidency on Wednesday.

He will formally be confirmed as the country’s leader at roughly 9:00 am (1300 GMT) Thursday-the anniversary of the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion, when Fidel Castro’s forces defeated 1,400 US-backed rebels seeking to overthrow him.

Havana has long hailed the showdown as American imperialism’s first great defeat in Latin America. It is also the day before the new president’s 58th birthday.

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