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Raul Castro Succeeds Older Brother Fidel As Cuba's President

HAVANA - Cuba's parliament named Raul Castro president on
Sunday, ending nearly 50 years of rule by his brother Fidel but
leaving the island's communist system unshaken.
The succession was not likely to bring a major shift in the
policies of the communist government that have put it at odds with
the United States. But many Cubans were hoping it would open the
door to modest economic reforms that might improve their daily
lives.
In another sign that major change was not afoot, Raul Castro,
76, proposed he would consult with the ailing 81-year-old Fidel on
all major decisions of state, and parliament approved the proposal.
The vote came five days after Fidel said he was retiring,
capping a career in which he frustrated efforts by 10 U.S.
presidents to oust him.
In a surprise move, an old guard revolutionary leader was named
No. 2. Jose Ramon Machado, who fought alongside the Castro brothers
in the Sierra Maestra during the late 1950s, was named to the slot
that Raul Castro had previously held. He is 77.
Cabinet secretary Carlos Lage, who many had expected would move
up into the first vice president slot, maintained his spot as one
of five other vice presidents on the 31-member Council of State,
which governs the country.
The other four vice presidents included Juan Almeida Bosque, 80,
a historic revolutionary leader; Interior Minister Abeldardo
Colomoe Ibarra, 68; Esteban Lazo Hernandez, 63, a longtime
Communist Party leader, and Gen. Julio Casas Regueiro, 71, who was
Raul Castro's No. 2 at the Defense Ministry.
The council secretary remained Dr. Jose M. Miyar Barrueco, 75,
physician and historic revolutionary leader, and longtime aide to
Fidel Castro and Council of State.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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