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Castro's New Year's Message Read on TV

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  • Walter Lippmann
    Castro s New Year s Message Read on TV 5 hours ago http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5i8tC0xZaC9QlnCIDYwu0FoTDoymgD8TSU9380 HAVANA (AP) — Ailing leader Fidel
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 1, 2008
      Castro's New Year's Message Read on TV
      5 hours ago


      HAVANA (AP) — Ailing leader Fidel Castro saluted the Cuban people for their "50 years of resistance" against the United States in a written message read on state television shortly before the first minutes of the new year.

      "During the course of the morning, the 49th year of the Revolution will have been left behind and we will have fully entered the 50th year, which will symbolize a half century of heroic resistance," said the message read by a television presenter shortly before midnight. The broadcast showed old photographs of the Cuban leader.

      "We proclaim to the world with pride this record which makes us believe in the most just of our demands: that there be respect for the life and the wholesome joy of our nation."

      Cuba will mark the 50th anniversary of the Jan. 1, 1959, triumph of the revolution that brought Castro to power a year from now, but is already characterizing all of 2008 leading up to that date as the "50th year of the revolution."

      The 81-year-old Castro has not been seen in public in the 17 months since he announced he had undergone emergency intestinal surgery and was provisionally ceding his powers to a caretaker government led by his younger brother Raul, the 76-year-old defense minister.

      Fidel's exact ailment and condition are carefully guarded state secrets, but Raul Castro recently told voters in the eastern city of Santiago that his brother is doing well enough that Communist Party leaders support his candidacy to be re-elected as a deputy to Cuba's National Assembly, or parliament, on Jan. 20.

      When the new parliament meets on a still unspecified day in early March for the first time after the national elections, deputies will elect a new ruling Council of State — Cuba's governing body.

      At that time, they will also have to decide whether to retain the elder Castro as the council's longtime president. Fidel has not said directly whether he would seek to retain the post, but recently indicated he could be thinking about retirement.

      Copyright © 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

      Convalescing Castro sends Cubans New Year message
      Mon Dec 31, 2007 10:14pm EST

      HAVANA (Reuters) - Convalescing Cuban leader Fidel Castro on Monday sent a New Year's message telling Cubans to celebrate the anniversary of his 1959 revolution nearly 17 months after illness forced him to hand power to his brother.

      Castro, one of the few surviving Cold War enemies of the United States, has only appeared in taped videos and photographs since undergoing emergency stomach surgery in July 2006 and with his full condition a state secret it is unclear whether the 81-year-old will resume office.

      "In the morning, 49 years of the revolution will be behind us and the 50th year will symbolize half a century of heroic resistance," Castro said in a statement read on television. "We proclaim our pride in this record to the world."

      Cuba's National Assembly may decide on Castro's post as head of state when it approves members of the executive Council of State in March. But his brother Raul's call for more open debate over problems has fueled speculation about the political and economic future of the island.

      His brother says Castro is lucid, consulted on major policy decisions and has recovered sufficient strength that party delegates support his nomination to run for a National Assembly seat, a requirement for the presidency.

      But Fidel Castro has hinted twice in recent statements he will not cling on to power or his formal posts, suggesting he will instead contribute with ideas drawn from his experience.

      Castro has been nominated for the assembly but if he is too ill, the assembly may formally appoint a successor. Fidel Castro holds posts of president of the Council of State and Council of Ministers and first secretary of the ruling Communist Party.

      Cuba watchers say a smooth transition of power already has taken place under Raul Castro, who some believe is a more practical manager who has begun talking about an open approach to handling the economic problems, including more foreign investment in the agriculture sector.

      (Reporting by Patrick Markey; Editing by Bill Trott)

      Walter Lippmann
      Havana, Cuba
      "Un paraíso bajo el bloqueo"
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