Raul Castro and Argentina-born revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara pictured during a July 26 celebration commemorating the revolution.

In Focus

End of an Era: Cuban President Raúl Castro steps down

Castro, 86, remains head of the Communist Party as former VP Miguel Diaz-Canel becomes the first non-Castro president in over 40 years.

 / Updated 23 PHOTOS
A car drives by a billboard that reads 'It was, is and will be done," with a picture of Cuba's then-President Raul Castro on the outskirts of Havana, on April 18, 2018, as Cuba's legislature opened the two-day session to elect a successor to President Castro.

A car drives by a billboard that reads "It was, is and will be done" with a picture of Cuba's then-President Raúl Castro on the outskirts of Havana, on April 18, 2018, as Cuba's legislature opened the two-day session to elect a successor to Castro.

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Cuban President Raul Castro and First Vice-President Miguel Diaz Canel attend the May Day parade at Revolution Square in Havana on May 1, 2016.

The 57-year-old First Vice President was the pre-ordained choice of Raul Castro as he stepped down on April 19, 2018, ensuring that the vote in the National Assembly to appoint him would be little more than a formality. The successor to Fidel and Raul Castro has spent three decades climbing to the summit of the Communist Party. He is ideally placed to continue to implement the economic reforms initiated by his 86-year-old mentor.

Cuban President Raúl Castro and First Vice-President Miguel Díaz-Canel attend the May Day parade at Revolution Square in Havana on May 1, 2016.

The 57-year-old was Castro's pre-ordained choice for when he stepped down on April 19, 2018. As a result, the National Assembly's vote to appoint him was little more than a formality. The successor to Fidel and Raul Castro has spent three decades climbing to the summit of the Communist Party. He is ideally placed to continue to implement the economic reforms initiated by his 86-year-old mentor.

Adalberto Roque / AFP - Getty Images
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U.S. President Barack Obama and Raul Castro visit during an exhibition game between the Cuban national team and the Major League Baseball team Tampa Bay Devil Rays at the Estado Latinoamericano in Havana, on March 22, 2016. It was the first time a sitting president visited Cuba in 88 years.

U.S. President Barack Obama and Raúl Castro attend an exhibition game between the Cuban national team and the Major League Baseball team Tampa Bay Devil Rays at the Estado Latinoamericano in Havana, on March 22, 2016. It was the first time a sitting president visited Cuba in 88 years.

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Then-President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama walk with Raul Castro after attending a State Dinner at the Palace of the Revolution, on March 21, 2016, in Havana.

Then-President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama walk with Raúl Castro after attending a State Dinner at the Palace of the Revolution, on March 21, 2016, in Havana.

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Raul Castro raises Obama's hand during a meeting at the Revolution Palace in Havana on March 21, 2016. Cuba's Communist president stood next to Barack Obama and hailed his opposition to a long-standing economic "blockade," but said it would need to end before ties are fully normalized.

Castro raises Obama's hand during a meeting at the Revolution Palace in Havana on March 21, 2016.

Cuba's communist president stood next to Obama and hailed his opposition to a long-standing economic "blockade," but said it would need to end before ties are fully normalized.

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Cuba's President Raul Castro along with Uruguay's former President Jose Mujica, his wife Sen. Lucia Topolansky, President of University Students Federation Jennifer Bello and Revolutionionary Commander Ramiro Valdes,take part in a march with torches to mark the 163rd anniversary of the birth of Cuba's national independence hero Jose Marti, in Havana, Jan. 27, 2016.

Castro along with Uruguay's former President José Mujica, his wife Sen. Lucía Topolansky, President of University Students Federation Jennifer Bello and Revolutionary Commander Ramiro Valdés,take part in a march with torches to mark the 163rd anniversary of the birth of Cuba's national independence hero Jose Martí, in Havana, Jan. 27, 2016.

Desmond Boylan / AP
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Cuban President Raul Castro reacts after addressing the 70th Session of the UN General Assembly in New York on Sept. 28, 2015.

Castro sits after addressing the 70th Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Sept. 28, 2015.

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Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, left, and the head of the FARC guerrillas Timoleon Jimenez, known as Timochenko, right, shake hands as Cuban President Raul Castro holds their hands during a meeting in Havana on Sept. 23, 2015.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, left, and the head of the FARC guerrillas Timoleón Jiménez, known as Timochenko, shake hands as Raúl Castro holds their hands during a meeting in Havana on Sept. 23, 2015.

Luis Acosta / AFP - Getty Images
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Pope Francis meets Cuban President Raul Castro during a private audience at the Vatican, May 10, 2015.

Pope Francis meets Raúl Castro during a private audience at the Vatican on May 10, 2015.

Osservatore Romano Press Office / EPA
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Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro and Raul Castro, acknowledge marchers as they parade past, marking May Day in Revolution Square, in Havana, May 1, 2015.

Venezuela's President Nicolás Maduro and Raúl Castro acknowledge marchers as they parade past, marking May Day in Revolution Square in Havana, May 1, 2015.

Ramon Espinosa / AP
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Fidel Castro and his brother talk during the opening session of the National Assembly in Havana, Feb. 24, 2012. Cuban President Raul Castro accepted a new five-year term that will be, he said, his last and tapped rising star Miguel Diaz-Canel, 52, as vice president and first in the line of succession. Diaz-Canel has risen higher than any other Cuban official who didn't directly participate in the 1959 Cuban revolution.

Fidel Castro and his brother talk during the opening session of the National Assembly in Havana, Feb. 24, 2012.

Cuban President Raul Castro accepted a new five-year term that will be, he said, his last and tapped rising star Miguel Diaz-Canel, 52, as vice president and first in the line of succession. Diaz-Canel has risen higher than any other Cuban official who didn't directly participate in the 1959 Cuban revolution.

Estudios Revolucion / AP
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Raul Castro, former President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn pose for a photo at Revolution Palace in Havana, March 29, 2011. Carter and his wife Rosalynn stayed on the island for three days. He also visited Cuba in 2002, and, before Barack Obama, was the only former U.S. president to do so since the 1959 revolution.

Raúl Castro, former President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn pose for a photo at Revolution Palace in Havana, March 29, 2011.

Carter and his wife Rosalynn stayed on the island for three days. He also visited Cuba in 2002 and, before Barack Obama, was the only former U.S. president to do so since the 1959 revolution.

Javier Galeano / AP
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Cuba's then acting President Raul Castro stands with Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque during a session of the National Assembly of Popular Power in Havana, June 29, 2007. Castro abruptly removed some of Cuba's most powerful officials on March 2, 2009, including Perez Roque, putting a personal stamp on the government in what was then the biggest shakeup since he took over from his ailing brother Fidel a year prior.

Foreign Minister Felipe Pérez Roque with Castro during a session of the National Assembly of Popular Power in Havana, June 29, 2007.

Castro abruptly removed some of Cuba's most powerful officials on March 2, 2009, including Pérez Roque, putting a personal stamp on the government in what was then the biggest shakeup since he took over from his ailing brother Fidel a year prior.

Javier Galeano / AP
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Communist Party members set up framed photographs of the Castros as they prepare for a political rally supporting Fidel Castro and the Revolution on Aug. 4, 2006 in Havana. Four days prior, Fidel temporarily handed power to his brother Raul while he recovered from intestinal surgery.

Communist Party members set up framed photographs of the Castros as they prepare for a political rally supporting Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution on Aug. 4, 2006, in Havana.

Four days prior, Fidel temporarily handed power to his brother Raúl while he recovered from intestinal surgery.

Sven Creutzmann/Mambo Photo / Getty Images
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Then-President Fidel Castro and his brother Raul at the Cuban Parliament, Dec. 23, 2003. It was announced on Feb. 19, 2008 that Fidel Castro resigned as Cuba's president, ceding power to his brother.

Then-President Fidel Castro and his brother Raúl at the Cuban Parliament, Dec. 23, 2003.

It was announced on Feb. 19, 2008, that Fidel Castro resigned as Cuba's president, ceding power to his brother.

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Raul Castro waves from a car while riding through Havana, in a military parade, May 1978.

Raúl Castro waves from a car while riding through Havana in a military parade, May 1978.

Francois Lochon / Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images
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Fidel Castro and his brother Raul wave during the annual May Day parade in Revolution Plaza in Havana, May 1, 1973.

Fidel Castro and his brother Raúl wave during the annual May Day parade in Revolution Plaza in Havana on May 1, 1973.

Cristoval Pascual / AP
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Raul Castro cuts sugar cane in the fields of Cuba in 1970. After then-Premier Fidel Castro described the 1969 sugar harvest as an "agony for the country," he declared the key to economic advancement would come through increased sugar production and set a goal for the 1970 harvest to produce 10 million tons of sugar. The government put in place a model for "war economy," and redirected most resources into the sugar sector. Between November and July,Cuban industrial employees, city dwellers, school children, housewives, government officials and a "brigade" of Russians and Americans took to the fields wielding machetes.

Raúl Castro cuts sugar cane in the fields of Cuba in 1970. After then-Premier Fidel Castro described the 1969 sugar harvest as an "agony for the country," he declared the key to economic advancement would come through increased sugar production and set a goal for the 1970 harvest to produce 10 million tons of sugar. The government put in place a model for "war economy," and redirected most resources into the sugar sector. Between November and July, Cuban industrial employees, city dwellers, school children, housewives, government officials and a "brigade" of Russians and Americans took to the fields wielding machetes.

Gilberto Ante / Roger Viollet/Getty Images
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Raul Castro and Argentina-born revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara pictured during a July 26 celebration commemorating the revolution.

Raúl Castro and Argentina-born revolutionary Ernesto '"Che" Guevara sit on a viewing platform during a July 26 celebration commemorating the revolution.

Lee Lockwood / The LIFE Images Collection/Getty
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Raul Castro talks with a family of countrymen in Cuba,1964.

Raúl Castro talks with a family in Cuba, 1964.

Gilberto Ante / Roger Viollet/Getty Images
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Raul Castro and photographer Lester Cole in Havana, Jan. 1959.

Photographer Lester Cole and Raúl Castro in Havana, Jan. 1959.

Lois Herman / Corbis via Getty Images
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Raul Castro smokes a pipe with Chief Lieutenant Ernesto 'Che' Guevara in their Sierra Cristal mountain stronghold in eastern Cuba, April 1958.

Raúl Castro smokes a pipe with Che Guevara in their Sierra Cristal mountain stronghold in eastern Cuba, April 1958.

Andrew St. George / AP
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Fidel Castro, his brother Raul Castro, Che Guevara and other members of the guerrilla unit during the guerrilla war against Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista, 1857.

Fidel Castro, his brother Raúl Castro, Che Guevara and other members of the guerrilla unit during the guerrilla war against Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista, 1957.

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