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President Raúl Castro of Cuba,...

The handover will mark the end of an era: Cuba without the Castros has been the holy grail for Florida-based Cuban exiles — and a policy vigorously pursued by a dozen successive US presidents. But on the streets of Havana, indifference — not hope — is in the air.

No posters or billboards referring to the changeover are to be seen, the identity of the new leader is hardly a topic of conversation, and nobody doubts that the existing political system will remain intact. As the Cuban saying goes: There are no direct presidential elections in Cuba.

When legislators for the National Assembly were elected this March, candidates stood unopposed. Every one was elected. Though relieved of the presidency, Castro, 86, will remain a political presence, staying on as first secretary of the Communist party until Health and education remain free at the point of use in Cuba.