Raúl Castro, who took over from his brother Fidel 12 years ago and led Cuba through some of its biggest changes in decades, has stepped down from power.
Raul handed power to someone outside the Castro dynasty for the first time since the Cuban revolution more than half a century ago.
During his two terms as president, Mr. Castro, 86, opened up his Communist country to a small but vital private sector and, perhaps most significantly, diplomatic relations with the United States.
His handpicked successor, Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, 57, is a Communist Party loyalist who was born a year after Fidel Castro claimed power in Cuba. His rise ushers in a new generation of Cubans whose only firsthand experience with the revolution has been its aftermath — the early era of plenty, the periods of economic privation after the demise of the Soviet Union, and the fleeting détente in recent years with the United States, its Cold War foe.
Officials started gathering in Havana on Wednesday morning and put forward Mr. Díaz-Canel as the sole candidate to replace Mr. Castro, all but assuring his selection by the Communist Party.