As they aged into their 80s and 90s, the Castros and their fellow fighters cast a shadow so deep that Cubans born in the first decades after the revolution became known as Cuba's "lost generation," men and women who spent their lives executing the orders of graying revolutionaries.
Next week, Raul Castro will step down as president after a decade in office, handing the position to a successor widely expected to be 57-year-old Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel. The April 19 handoff is the centerpiece of a broader transition to a group of leaders from the lost generation, who face an unprecedented test of their ability to guide a nation that has followed the same "commandantes" for 60 years.
Despite a series of reforms under Castro, Cuba remains locked in grinding economic stagnation that has driven hundreds of thousands of Cubans to emigrate in search of better lives. Change will require potentially painful reforms, like the elimination of a dual-currency system that has created damaging economic distortions.