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Fidel Castro urges Cuban leaders to fulfill his vision

Former president Fidel Castro bids farewell to Cuba’s Communist party congress

20 April 2016, 10:25am
Fidel Castro, left, with his brother, President Raúl Castro, addressed Cuba’s Communist Party at the party congress in Havana on Tuesday
Fidel Castro, left, with his brother, President Raúl Castro, addressed Cuba’s Communist Party at the party congress in Havana on Tuesday
Fidel Castro bade farewell to Cuba’s Communist Party on Tuesday, telling party members that he would soon die and urging them to fulfill his communist vision.

“Soon, I will be 90,” said Castro, 89, who spoke in a strong but rasping voice at the close of a four-day party congress in Havana.

“Our turn comes to us all,” added Castro, who made his longest public address in years clad in a blue track jacket, “but the ideas of Cuban communism will endure.”

On Tuesday the 'maximum leader' said “the time will come for all of us, but the ideas of the Cuban communists will remain as proof on this planet that if they are worked at with fervour and dignity, they can produce the material and cultural goods that human beings need, and we need to fight without truce to obtain them.”

State television, in a delayed, edited broadcast, showed the former president, wearing a plaid shirt and sports top, seated at the dais in the convention palace, consulting notes as he spoke. Party members responded with shouts of “Fidel!”

Castro and his comrades overthrew Fulgencio Batista in 1959 and has since inspired and alienated generations of leftwingers. Since ascending to power, Castro has outlived the Soviet Union and 10 US presidents. He resigned as President and head of the party after a 2006 intestinal illness nearly killed him.

While Castro seemed to take his leave on Tuesday, others in his cohort signaled their intentions to stay put. The Communist Party announced that Castro’s brother, President Raúl Castro, 84, and the president’s hard-line second-in-command, José Ramón Machado Ventura, 85, would continue to lead the party for at least part of another five-year term.

Members of the international news media were not given access to the Party Congress, which only happen roughly every five years and plots the future of the island's political establishment and beleaguered economy.

Raul Castro, 84, began the party congress calling for a 70-year age limit for Cuban officials, on Tuesday he accepted another five-year term as party head.

That would mean Castro would continue as party communist secretary until 2021. He has said he will step down as President of Cuba in 2018 and that the next generation of Cubans will take over running the island.

But the Congress made clear that Cuban officials will stay true to Fidel Castro's vision of a government that exercises tight control over the island's political system and economy.