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HavanaJournal.com: Cuba Politics

Raul Castro says Fidel is healthy enough to be President (w/opinion)

Posted December 25, 2007 by publisher in Cuba Politics.
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By WILL WEISSERT | Associated Press

HAVANA - Raul Castro said Monday that Communist Party leaders support his brother Fidel’s re-election to parliament, saying he is exercising two hours daily and gaining weight while keeping his mind healthy with reading and writing.

A seat in parliament is the first step in a process that would allow Fidel to retain his post atop the Council of State, Cuba’s supreme governing body.

Communist Party leaders “defend him running again” Raul Castro said of his brother’s candidacy for re-election to the Cuba’s National Assembly, or parliament, on Jan. 20.

Last week, the 81-year-old Fidel Castro suggested he would not cling to power forever, nor stand in the way of a younger generations. He hinted at his political future for the first time since emergency intestinal surgery forced him to cede power to a “provisional” government headed by Raul in July 2006.

But his younger brother indicated Monday that Fidel was healthy enough to stand for re-election.

Through daily exercise, Fidel “has recovered a lot of weight and muscle mass,” he said, speaking to voters in Fidel’s district in the eastern city of Santiago, where the brothers spent part of their youth. He said Fidel asked him to visit voters in district visit because he was unable to.

In remarks carried on Cuban state television Monday evening, Raul said his brother “has more time, he’s reading more than ever. He’s meditating more than ever and writing almost more than ever.”

“His powerful mind is healthier,” the acting president said.

Speaking of Cuba’s electoral system, Raul Castro noted that U.S. democracy pits two identical parties against one another, and joked that a choice between a Republican and Democrat is like choosing between himself and his brother Fidel.

“We could say in Cuba we have two parties: one led by Fidel and one led by Raul, what would be the difference?” he asked. “That’s the same thing that happens in the United States ... both are the same. Fidel is a little taller than me, he has a beard and I don’t.”

The 76-year-old Raul scoffed at the notion Cuba needs to be more like the U.S. But he also acknowledged that the island’s communist government has its flaws, saying “our system has to become more democratized.”

“I want to say this: If we only have one party that represents the interests of the people, where we can have differences, we should have them,” he said. “Not class clashes, but it’s good to have differences.”

The younger Castro added that those wanting to express critical opinions should “do so in the correct place, because sometimes we have a lot of meetings and those who go to those meetings say nothing ... but in the hallway they talk.”

Member Comments

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On December 25, 2007, publisher wrote:

As this article mentions, Fidel said last week that he would not cling to power and would make way for a younger generation. I found this to be a big statement even though the main stream media did not pick up on it.

So, I have been waiting for one of the Players in the Cuban government to say something that would help us understand what Fidel meant and/or give us an indication of the current state of the Cuban government.

This statement tells me that things may not be so stable in the Cuban government.

What I read from Raul’s statement is that he is afraid, afraid of change.

Fidel comes out and says he wants to make way for younger leaders basically telling Raul that Raul won’t be the next President of Cuba.

Now Raul comes out and says Fidel is healthy enough to be President but in case Fidel doesn’t want to be President, Raul is the same as Fidel.

This tells me that Raul is scared of change, the same change that he needs to talk about in order to maintain power.

So, maybe I’m reading too much into this but seems to me that Fidel is on the way AND Raul is on his way out and not happy about it.

Who would you bet on for being a better strategist, Fidel or Raul?

Right. Fidel. Raul is Fidel’s puppet by force or by choice I’m not sure but Raul will do what Fidel lets Raul do. When Fidel is gone, so is Raul’s puppetmaster.

Can the puppet stand on his own two feet?

I say no. Raul is a manager, not a leader.

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On December 28, 2007, publisher wrote:

If Fidel is healthy enough to run for office, why doesn’t he come out and say that himself?

How come there were no publicity photos of Fidel meeting with Chavez last week?

Nagging little questions like this make me wonder even more about Raul’s sincerity.

I think he and the Cuban government want to present an image of unity and stability but when it’s not true, you can sense it because each person is saying something different and never together.

The only stability in Cuba is same shit, different day. Another day without a NEW revolution is a good day for those in power in the Cuban government.