As Castro got up from the seat he has occupied for the past 12 years, it was immediately taken by Diaz-Canel, a man almost 30 years his junior who has spent years climbing the party ranks.
A new era dawned in Cuba on Thursday when 57-year-old Miguel Díaz-Canel was sworn in as the new president of the communist country, replacing Raúl Castro who made a decision to bring to an end the Castro family's decades-long rule on the island. Diaz-Canel's position is finally putting an end to Fidel Castro's 60-year communist regime over the country. The President will still have to answer to Castro, who will remain head of the Communist Party. On Thursday, Díaz-Canel took office as the president of the Councils of State and of Ministers of Cuba for a five-year term before the Legislature of the People's Power National Assembly (Parliament).
In a telegram to Raul Castro, the Russian leader "thanked him for fruitful cooperation over many years which ensured steady development of Cuba-Russia relations".
"Here there are no spaces for a transition that does not recognize the legacy of so many years of struggle", said Diaz-Canel in a clear message that he will not get out of line with the one-party system in Cuba. Instead, he chose a man who wasn't even born when his older brother started a revolution and ultimately took control of Cuba in 1959.
Diaz-Canal became an electronics engineer at the Central University of Las Villas.
The transfer of power comes at a precarious time in Cuba's history. "'There is no room for those who aspire to a capitalist restoration", he said.
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Raul Castro also commented on the halting thaw between Cuba and the United States, saying that Donald Trump's election victory set bilateral ties back again.
Raul Castro embraced Diaz-Canel and raised the hand of the new leader in the air, amid cheers from assembly members.
In 2015, Havana and Washington renewed diplomatic ties, with then president Barack Obama making a historic visit to the island a year later.
But Diaz-Canel has also publicly defended bloggers and academics who were critical of the Cuban government, under a system that represses dissent and is intolerant of criticism.
The Trump administration does not see the Cuban people gaining greater freedoms under Cuba's newly installed president and has no intention of softening its policy toward the island's Communist government, a White House official said on Thursday.
"It falls on our generation to give continuity to the revolutionary process", Cuban National Assembly member Jorge Luis Torres of Artemisa province told The Associated Press.