Fidel Castro stepped down Tuesday morning from his 49-year post as president of Cuba, ending a half-century reign as one of the world's most powerful communist heads of state. Sidelined by an operation in July 2006, Castro handed temporary power over to his brother Raúl, and while he has not appeared in public since, Fidel has continued to remain active in the regime.
Just days before the national assembly plans to (re-)select its jefe (the president serves five-year terms), Castro addressed his nation of "compatriots" with a letter: "I will not aspire to neither will I accept-I repeat I will not aspire to neither will I accept-the position of President of the Council of State and Commander in chief." (Full text of the letter)
In power since leading the communist revolution that disposed of President Fulgencio Batista in 1959, Castro is 81.