World

Fidel Castro gives rare speech, says he’ll die soon

Fidel Castro delivered a valedictory speech to the Communist Party that he put in power a half-century ago, telling party members he is nearing the end of his life.
OMARA GARCIA MEDEROS/AFP/Getty Images/ACN
Fidel Castro delivered a valedictory speech to the Communist Party that he put in power a half-century ago, telling party members he is nearing the end of his life.

HAVANA — The former guerrilla fighters who founded Cuba’s single-party government will hold power for years to come after a twice-a-decade Communist Party congress kept President Raul Castro and his hard-line deputy in the top leadership positions.

Fidel Castro, who held power for nearly five decades before ill health led him to make way for his brother, delivered a valedictory speech to the congress Tuesday and called on it to fight for his communist ideals despite the fact that he is nearing the end of his life.

‘‘I’ll be 90 years old soon,’’ Castro said in his most extensive public appearance in years. ‘‘Soon I’ll be like all the others. 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 fervor and dignity, they can produce the material and cultural goods that human beings need, and we need to fight without a truce to obtain them.’’

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Raul Castro, 84, said he would remain the party’s first secretary and Jose Ramon Machado Ventura, 85, would hold the post of second secretary for at least part of a second five-year term.

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Castro currently is both president and party first secretary. The decision means he could hold a Communist Party position at least as powerful as the presidency even after he is presumably replaced by a younger president in 2018.

Associated Press