Raul Castro
© file photo
Cuban First Secretary of the Communist Party, Raul Castro
Raul Castro confirmed he was handing over the leadership of the all-powerful Cuban Communist Party to a younger generation that was "full of passion and anti-imperialist spirit" at its congress that kicked off on Friday.

In a speech opening the four day closed door event, excerpts of which were broadcast on state television, Castro, 89, said he had the satisfaction of handing over the leadership to a group of party loyalists that had decades of experience working their way up the ranks.

Castro told hundreds of party delegates gathered at a convention center in Havana:
"I believe fervently in the strength and exemplary nature and comprehension of my compatriots, and as long as I live I will be ready with my foot in the stirrups to defend the fatherland, the revolution and socialism,"