Fidel Castro Insists His Brother Raul Is In Charge

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Fidel Castro Insists His Brother Raul Is In Charge


Fidel Castro said Friday that his younger brother, Raul, was fully in charge as Cuba's new president, trying to discount any speculation that he was directing Raul from behind the scenes.

His comments were published in the online edition of the Communist Party newspaper Granma, which were his first since parliament named his brother, Raul, to the country's top post last weekend.

Raul Castro has "all legal and constitutional faculties and prerogatives" to lead Cuba," Fidel Castro wrote, announced last week that he was would not seek a new presidential term, acknowledging he was too ill to govern the communist country after 49 years.

Raul Castro, 76, already had been governing provisionally for 19 months, taking over when Fidel announced he had undergone intestinal surgery and was temporarily stepping aside. But even during that period, Fidel Castro remained Cuba's uncontested leader.

On Sunday, Raul requested and received permission from lawmakers to consult with Fidel on "the decisions of special transcendence for the future of our nation" especially those involving "defense, foreign policy and socio-economic development."

In his comments, Fidel Castro also dismissed concerns about the ages of many of the new members of the Council of State, Cuba's supreme governing authority, who were elected Sunday by Parliament.

He noted that two key generals, Leopoldo Cintra Frias and Alvaro Lopez Miera, are both younger than U.S. Republican presidential candidate John McCain, who is 71. Cintra Frias is 66. Alvaro Lopez's age was not immediately available, but he appears to be in his 60s.

The two generals are "much younger than McCain and have much more experience as military chiefs," Castro wrote.

In his Friday essay, Fidel also referred to the parliament's selection of 77-year-old Communist Party ideologue Jose Ramon Machado Ventura as the government's No. 2 man.

Fidel has not been seen in public since falling ill in July 2006, but he had regularly published columns under the title "Reflections of the Commander in Chief." He wrote Friday's column under the title "Reflections of Comrade Fidel".

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