The octogenarian leader of Cuba took over from his ailing brother Fidel in 2009 after nearly 50 years on the sidelines. Raúl does not have the same icon-status as his brother or Che Guevara, but he was close adviser to Fidel and an important leader of the Cuban military.
During the past three years, the Communist Party has maintained its grip on power. Cuba acts as a reminder that autocracy does not necessarily lead to poor outcomes. Cuba has literacy rates of 99.8 percent and a life expectancy of nearly 78 years. But don't let that fool you, Castro has a low tolerance for opposition, and his country has the most restrictive free speech laws in the Western Hemisphere. According to the Cuban government, there are zero political prisoners, but independent analysts peg the real number closer to 200. While that number is down from previous decades, the country's incarceration rate combined with its lengthy prison terms for independent journalist puts Castro at No. nine.