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The powerful Political Bureau sits at the top of the party’s leadership structure and plays a central role in guiding the direction of the nation, though it does not have the power to enact or enforce laws.

The Communist Party newspaper Granma reported last week that President Raul Castro said Cuba must urgently break with what he called the “blockade of thinking that still persists when the time comes to select and prepare young leaders.”

Mr. Castro repeatedly has spoken of the need to promote fresh leadership, an acknowledgment that the aging revolutionary generation that has dominated Cuban politics for decades will not be around forever.

Fidel Castro, 86, is retired and largely out of sight. Raul Castro is 81, and his top two lieutenants also are octogenarians.

Mr. Rodriguez, 54, is a former Havana University law professor and ambassador to the United Nations who speaks English fluently. He was deputy foreign minister from 2004 to 2009.

Other younger faces on the Political Bureau include economy czar Marino Murillo, tapped to implement Raul Castro’s economic reform plan; Lazara Mercedes Lopez Acea, the Communist Party’s regional boss in Havana since 2009; and Miguel Diaz Canel, vice president of the Council of Ministers and former minister of higher education.

From wire dispatches and staff reports