President of the Council of State and Council of Ministers
Fidel Castro passed the reins of power to his younger brother Raúl, the defence minister, five days after falling ill on 26 July 2006 and undergoing a major operation. Formally confirmed as President of the Council of State on 24 February 2008, Raúl has behaved little better than his brother as regards civil liberties, and the harassment of independent journalists and bloggers has never stopped. It includes police brutality, summonses and searches by State Security (the political police) and detention for short periods.
The page has nonetheless been turned on the “Black Spring” crackdown of March 2003. From July 2010 to March 2011, the regime freed a total of 52 dissidents jailed during the crackdown, a third of who had been running or working for small independent news agencies before their arrest. Most of them had to agree to forced exile in exchange for their release.