Raúl Castro has stepped down as first secretary of Cuba’s Communist Party ending a 60-year career.
Raúl Castro has stepped down as first secretary of Cuba’s Communist Party.
The move means that for the first time in six decades, the party – which has ruled the island since formation in 1965 – is not led by either Raúl Castro or his late brother, Fidel.
Fidel Castro led the communist revolution that toppled the Cuban government in 1959 and his younger brother Raúl was one of the commanders.
Born on 3 June 1931 and educated at a Jesuit school in the Cuban capital, Havana, Raúl Castro went on to study economics at university in Havana, where he joined a communist youth group.
In 1953, he helped his older brother, Fidel, plan and execute a failed attack on the Moncada military barracks in an attempt to oust Gen Fulgencio Batista.
He was sentenced to 13 years in prison for part in the attack but was granted an amnesty in 1955 and went into exile in Mexico.
There, he befriended the Argentine revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara while and him to Fidel Castro.
Raúl Castro returned to Cuba in December 1956 on board the ship Granma as one of his brother Fidel’s group of exiles known as the 26 July Revolutionary Movement.
They conducted a guerrilla warfare campaign from the Sierra Maestra mountains which led to the overthrow of Gen Batista’s government and forced Batista to flee.
Fidel Castro was sworn in as prime minister and put Raúl in charge of the Revolutionary Armed Forces, a post he held until 2008.
Whether presiding over military parades or reading to Cubans in the countryside, he could most often be seen in his olive green uniform.
The father of Fidel and Raúl Castro was a prosperous sugar cane farmer and Raúl would sometimes pose for photographs among fields of Cuba’s most important crop.
In 1965, Raúl Castro assumed the post of second secretary in the newly formed Communist Party of Cuba’s Central Committee.
His older brother, Fidel, held the post of first secretary from 1965 until 2011, when he resigned and Raúl Castro assumed what is arguably the most influential position in Cuba.
While Raúl Castro has spent most of his life in the shadow of his brother Fidel, during his time as Cuba’s president – first in an acting capacity from 2006 and later officially from 2008 to 2018 – the younger Castro not only welcomed Pope Francis to the island in 2015…
…he also shook hands with US President Barack Obama in a gesture that signalled a thaw in the relations between the two countries in 2015.
The two leaders would meet again in 2016 when Barack Obama joined Raúl Castro in the stands at a baseball game in Havana during the US leader’s landmark trip to the Communist island.
Following the death of Fidel Castro on 25 November 2016, it fell to his younger brother to place the urn the urn containing the ashes in his tomb at the Santa Ifigenia cemetery in Santiago de Cuba.
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