Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 2 October 2014

Fidel Castro slips from Cuban power

Raul Castro has been named first secretary of Cuba's Communist Party (AP)

Raul Castro has been named first secretary of Cuba's Communist Party with his ageing brother Fidel not included in the leadership for the first time since the party's creation 46 years ago.

Despite raising hopes during the gathering that a new generation of leaders was poised to take up important positions, Raul announced that Jose Ramon Machado Ventura, an 80-year-old long-time confidante, would be his deputy.

Ramiro Valdes, a 78-year-old vice president, was named to the Number 3 spot. Several younger people were added to the 15-member leadership group, but in lesser positions.

Fidel Castro, 84, made a surprise appearance at the gathering, receiving thunderous applause from the 1,000 delegates assembled in a vast convention centre in the capital, Havana.

Many could be seen crying as he was helped to his place on stage by a young aide, then stood at attention next to his brother during the playing of Cuba's national anthem.

The revolutionary, who wore a blue track suit over a checked shirt, looked unsteady on his feet as he clutched the aide's arm, and at times slumped in his chair.

But he became more animated as the proceedings continued, especially when Raul's name was read out by a party official announcing the members of the party's Central Committee.

That larger group is tasked with picking the leadership council. For the first time since the party's founding in 1965, Fidel was not included in the names of Central Committee members, which were called out alphabetically.

Each newly elected official stood up, revealing a mix of young and old, including many women and Cubans of African descent. There were also a number of generals and other senior armed forces officials.

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