Several Cuban leaders used the title 'president’ during the first years of the revolution, though the first three served for short times. As prime minister, Fidel Castro was the real power in government. In 1976, Castro, though never democratically elected, took the title of ‘president’ of the Council of State under the new Communist constitution.
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Anselmo Alliegro y Milá: Jan 1-2, 1959
Alliegro, a former president of the Cuban Senate, held office as president for one day after the departure of Fulgencio Batista from Cuba.
Carlos Manuel Piedra: Jan. 2-3, 1959
Piedra, formerly the eldest judge on Cuba’s Supreme Court, was appointed provisional president in accordance with the 1940 Cuban constitution. He served for one day after Fidel Castro objected.
Manuel Urrutia Lleó: Jan. 3 – July 18, 1959
Urrutia, a leading figure in the urban resistance movement against Batista's government during the Cuban Revolution, was president for six months, and left power after a number of disagreements with Fidel Castro.
Osvaldo Dorticós Torrado: July 18, 1959 – Dec. 2, 1976
Dorticós, an attorney and opponent of the Batista regime, was the Castro government’s first minister of revolutionary laws before serving as president for 17 years.
Fidel Castro: Dec. 2, 1976 – Feb. 24, 2008
Castro became head of Cuba’s Council of State following the creation of the Cuban constitution of 1976.
Raúl Castro: Feb. 24, 2008 – April 19, 2018
Raúl Castro temporarily became president of the Council of State after brother Fidel stepped down from power due to illness in 2006. He was ratified as head of government by the National Assembly in 2008. An advocate of term limits, he had long said he planned to retire when his second term ended in 2018.
Miguel Díaz-Canel: April 19, 2018
Díaz-Canel, a former minister of higher education, was made first vice president of the Council of State in 2013. He successfully navigated Cuba's treacherous political waters for five years as heir apparent.