End of an Era in Cuba: Raul and Fidel Castro in Pictures

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Fidel Castro Reuters

An era has ended in Communist-run Cuba as President Raul Castro retires and hands over the reins to his successor, Miguel Diaz-Canel, born the year after brothers Fidel and Raul led their 1959 leftist revolution.

However after nearly 60 years of Castro rule, the change is not expected to herald sweeping reforms to the island's state-run economy and one-party system, one of the last in the world.

Former First Vice President Diaz-Canel, 57, is seen as a stalwart of the Communist Party, designated by the constitution as Cuba's guiding political force, who has worked his way up the party's ranks over three decades.

Raul Castro, 86, will retain considerable power as he will remain head of the Communist Party until a congress in 2021.

Cubans hope the next government can resurrect one of the world's last Soviet-style centrally planned economies that has failed to improve under limited market reforms by Castro. Those domestic economic woes have been exacerbated over the last year by a decline in aid from ally Venezuela and a partial rollback of the U.S.-Cuban detente, dampening a tourism boom.

Analysts say it will be tricky for Diaz-Canel to get the party and government to deepen the reform process, given his predecessor struggled to do so despite his clout as one of the revolutionary leaders.

Cuba's relationship with the United States has nosedived since Donald Trump was elected U.S. President. Washington has reduced staffing at its Havana embassy to its lowest level since the 1970s due to a spate of unexplained illnesses among its diplomats—a political move to justify unraveling the detente, critics say.

The U.S.-Cuba detente, under former U.S. president Barack Obama in 2014, was one of the highlights of Raul Castro's presidency and part of his broader opening of the island in order to preserve Cuban socialism beyond his "historic generation." Castro allowed Cubans to travel more freely and to own cellphones and property, while expanding internet access, albeit continuing to limit public dissent.

In this gallery, Newsweek looks back at nearly six decades of the house of Castro, starting with the revolution in the late 1950s.

— Reuters contributed to this report.

Revolutionary leader Fidel Castro gives a speech on January 1, 1959 after U.S.-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista was forced to flee Cuba. Keystone/Getty Images
January 8, 1959: Cuban rebel leader Fidel Castro enters Havana with members of his leftist guerrilla movement, Camilo Cienfuegos and Ernesto "Che" Guevara after their victory over the forces of Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista. AFP
(L to R) Commanders Raul Castro, Antonio Nunez Jimenez, Ernesto "Che" Guevara, Juan Almeida and Ramiro Valdes gather in Havana in 1959, during the first year of the Cuban revolution. AFP
April 21, 1959: Cuban President Fidel Castro shakes hands with American vice-president Richard Nixon during a press reception in Washington, D.C. Keystone/Getty Images
April 23, 1959: Cuban leader Fidel Castro is presented with an invitation to the New York Press Photographer's Ball. Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Ernesto "Che" Guevara plays golf as Fidel Castro watches him, at Colina Villareal in Havana in this undated picture. Prensa Latina/Reuters
September 26, 1960: Cuban President Fidel Castro delivers a four-and-a-half-hour speech at the United Nations headquarters in New York. Oficina de Asuntos Historicos del Consejo de Estado/AFP
October 19, 1960: Fidel Castro shares a laugh with Malcolm X at the Hotel Theresa in New York. Prensa Latina/Reuters
April 1961: President Fidel Castro talks to members of the Cuban Armed Forces near the area where some 1,500 anti-Castro soldiers came ashore at Playa Giron beach during the Bay of Pigs invasion on the south coast of Cuba. Prensa Latina/Reuters
April 1961: Cuban soldiers look at the bodies of some of those who participated in the ill-fated Bay of Pigs invasion. Graf/Three Lions/Getty Images
May 26, 1961: Fidel Castro presents a trophy to Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, as Ernesto "Che" Guevara looks on, in Havana. Prensa Latina/Reuters