Cuba's National Assembly cleared the way for the end of Castro rule, naming handpicked successor Miguel Diaz-Canel as the sole candidate for head of state.
The vote virtually ensured that the 57-year-old Diaz-Canel - born after the 1959 communist revolution - would replace President Raúl Castro as the island's leader and close out nearly 60 years of control by Raúl Castro and his late brother Fidel.
The appointment of Diaz-Canel was highly expected.
His nomination - along with 30 other members of Cuba's ruling Council of State - will be voted on later today and scheduled to be announced tomorrow.
But in Cuba's strictly managed political process, his public naming as the lone candidate made it a near certainty that he would emerge victorious, serving as the first member outside the Castro family to rule Cuba since communist forces swept to victory to oust a US-backed government in 1959.
At the start of the assembly session, Castro, in a dark suit and red tie, entered the legislative hall to thunderous applause. Alongside Castro was his First Vice-President, Diaz-Canel.
But the departure of Castro, 86, who took over Cuba's leadership from his elder brother Fidel in 2008, is not expected to lead to radical change.
Raúl Castro will remain head of the powerful Communist Party here. And Diaz-Canel is a longtime Communist Party stalwart viewed as a carefully groomed successor at a time when Cuba is facing important questions that include its new and complicated diplomatic and economic openings with the United States.
Nevertheless, the changing of the guard is seen as a landmark moment for a country that is seeking to solidify its one-party system for years to come.
In addition to naming a new president, the assembly was set to renew members of the ruling council of state. Cuba watchers were keen to see whether elderly, arch-conservative members would remain in place, or exit the stage with Castro.
Fidel Castro, before his death in 2016, had sought to stop the creation of a personality cult, forbidding statues or street names minted in his name. In perhaps a nod to that request, Cuba's official press was largely devoid of ponderous coverage reflecting on the Castro family ceding power, and focused instead on the technical aspects of the transition. The website of Juventud Rebelde simply showed the Cuban flag as a guidepost, with all roads leading to socialism.
Cuban television announcers used buzzwords such as "unity" and "continuity" in their broadcasts. State media tweeted under the hashtag #SomosContinuidad (We are continuity). The message to the populous was clear: The end of an era with a Castro as head of state does not mean the end of Cuba's communist system.
The National Assembly, its members elected last month, appeared to be sticking with what they knew. By secret ballot, they reappointed the same president and vice-president of the body, which only meets twice a year.
For some elderly Cubans, the dawn of an era without a Castro in Cuba's top job seemed almost unimaginable.
Giraldo Baez, a 78-year-old former factory administrator, said he first remembers hearing the name Fidel Castro on the radio in 1950s. "I heard in other radios around our house, because we were too poor to have one," he said.
For six decades, he said, he was a loyal "Fidelista and Raulista" - a constant backer of both brothers' rule.
"For me, not having a Fidel or Raul, it's almost impossible to conceive of. It's almost out of my realm of understanding. But even as they go, I feel we still need to follow their ideas," Baez said.
"We do need change," he said. "The state cannot operate all commerce and trade. The new generation of leaders has our future in their hands, and I have confidence in them."
On Havana's President's Avenue, lined with statues of Latin America leaders, a 22-year-old veterinarian sat with her friend, a 44-year-old housewife.
"Things are bad, and we need change, but nothing will change," said the 44-year-old, who declined to give her name out of concern that her comments could be seen by the government. "You go to the store, either you can't find food or the prices are too high … The one coming in is the same as the one leaving. Like I said, nothing is going to change."
Her younger friend chimed in: "You go the market, and you can't find chopped meat. You can't find anything. And this new person isn't going to help with that."
Some Cubans, however, harboured cautious optimism that a new generation of leaders would somehow be less tethered to Cuba's past, and more focused on its future.
"For us, this is like trying to imagine a new color, one that you haven't seen before," said Charlie, a 22-year-old Havana DJ.
"We don't want capitalism. That won't work for us," he said. "But what we want is something that we haven't seen yet. All I can do is hope that since Diaz-Canel is younger, and knows the people, that he understands what we need and is willing to deliver. We know it's going to take time. No one is expecting change overnight."