Miguel Diaz-Canel has been the presumptive next president of Cuba since 2013, when Raul Castro named the laconic former provincial official to the important post of first vice president and lauded him as "neither a novice nor an improviser," high praise in a system dedicated to continuity over all.
A 57-year-old bureaucrat will take Raul Castro's place as the president of Cuba on Thursday as a government led by a single family for six decades tries to ensure the long-term survival of one of the world's last communist states.
In 2008 Raul Castro took over a country where most people couldn't own computers or cellphones, leave without permission, run most types of private businesses or enter resort hotels.
Fidel and Raul Castro were scruffy young guerrillas in 1959, when they descended from Cuba's eastern mountains, seized power and never relinquished it.
As Hurricane Irma flooded the working-class neighborhoods behind Havana's seaside Malecon, a photographer for the Cuban Communist Party newspaper watched two men pulling broken furniture out of the calf-high water.