Reds opt for old guard to lead party in Cuba

 The choice of Castro, who replaces his older brother Fidel Castro as first secretary of the ruling party’s Central Committee, was expected.

But Machado Ventura’s appointment as second secretary would likely disappoint Cubans and others hoping for new blood at the top of one of the last communist states in the world. He is viewed as a hardline communist ideologue.

The two aging communists will preside over the implementation of wide-ranging reforms to the island’s struggling Soviet-style economy approved on Monday at the party’s first congress in 14 years. Castro, 79, and Machado Ventura, 80, fought in Cuba’s 1959 revolution and head the revolutionaries who have run the government for more than half a century since they helped topple dictator Fulgencio Batista.

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