End of an Era: Fidel Castro Steps Down

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For the first time in more than 50 years, Fidel Castro does not hold a position in the Cuban government.

At Havana's convention center, some 1,000 delegates of Cuba's Communist Party named the ailing 84-year-old's younger brother, Raul, 79, the party's first secretary.

Raul took over as president several years ago when health problems forced Fidel to step aside. To a cheering crowd, Raul said his brother didn't need a formal title to retain his place in the country.

"Fidel is Fidel," he said.

The party appointed Jose Machado Ventura, 80, as first vice president of Cuba's Council of State. Should Raul step down, Ventura would be first in line to replace him. The third spot went to Ramiro Valdes, 78.

All three men fought in Cuba's 1959 revolution, which helped oust U.S.-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista and put Fidel Castro in power.
 
Castro and his colleagues established a communist, atheist state just 90 miles from America. He has been a thorn in the side of American presidents for more than half a century.

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