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Cuban President Proposes Term Limits for Politicians

Cuban military cadets chant slogans as they march in the parade commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Bay of Pigs failed invasion along the Plaza de la Revolucion or Revolution Square in Havana, Cuba, Saturday April 16, 2011.
Cuban military cadets chant slogans as they march in the parade commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Bay of Pigs failed invasion along the Plaza de la Revolucion or Revolution Square in Havana, Cuba, Saturday April 16, 2011.

Cuban President Raul Castro has proposed term limits for Cuban politicians serving on the island nation that has been ruled for 52 years by him and his brother, Fidel.

In his opening address Saturday at the Congress for Cuba's ruling Communist Party, Raul Castro said politicians should be limited to two, five-year terms.  He gave few details of the restrictions.

The 1,000 delegates at the gathering, the party's first Congress in nearly 14 years, are expected to approve economic reforms proposed by Raul Castro.

The four-day gathering also could serve to introduce a new generation of Cuban officials to replace the country's rulers for the last half-century - 79-year-old Raul Castro and the ailing Fidel Castro, now 84.

Earlier Saturday, thousands of Cuban military personnel and civilians staged a parade to salute the 50th anniversary of Cuba's victory over the U.S. at the Bay of Pigs, and the nation's declaration of socialism.

As Raul Castro waved and saluted from a reviewing stand, troops high-stepped through Havana's sprawling Revolution Plaza.  Many flag-waving civilians followed them, and fighter jets roared through sunny skies.

It was a celebration of key events in the country's past that served as a prelude to the Congress for the ruling Communist Party.

The Bay of Pigs triumph is celebrated in Cuba as a landmark achievement over its powerful neighbor 145 kilometers to the north.  In April 1961, a force of 1,500 CIA-trained Cuban exiles supported by U.S. ships and planes came ashore at the Bay of Pigs in an effort to spark a counter-revolution against Fidel Castro's 1959 revolt that overthrew Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista.

But Fidel Castro rallied thousands of troops and citizens and routed the Bay of Pigs invaders within three days.  It was an embarrassing defeat for the new administration of then-U.S. president John F. Kennedy.

There was no sign of Fidel Castro at Saturday's celebration.

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