Raul Castro Is New Cuban Prez
But brother Fidel won't be far away
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 24, 2008 1:33 PM CST
Members of Cuba's National Assembly meet in Havana, Sunday, Feb. 24, 2008, to name a new head of state for the first time in nearly a half-century. Five days after an ailing, 81-year-old Fidel Castro...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Raul Castro will succeed long-ruling brother Fidel as the president of Cuba, reports the Miami Herald, after members of the National Assembly voted today. The current defense minister and first VP of the national committee, 76, was the only candidate endorsed by a nominating committee, and his ascent is expected to keep the country on its Communist path, reports the AFP.

Fidel is far from gone, however: his younger brother has already assigned him a say in all major decisions. With Raul at the helm, “old guard” leader Jose Ramon Machado Ventura takes his old place in the No. 2 position. Raul inherits a heavy load of economic and domestic problems, and has insisted that he will work “within socialism” to fix them.