Fidel Castro speaks of death in address to Cuba's Communist Party | Reuters

HAVANA Retired Cuban leader Fidel Castro emerged from seclusion on Tuesday to muse about death and provide encouragement to his followers, in a rare speech at the closing of a Communist Party congress in Havana. 'Soon I will be 90 years old,' he said. 'Soon I will be like all the rest.

Reuters April 20, 2016 06:01:50 IST
Fidel Castro speaks of death in address to Cuba's Communist Party
| Reuters

Fidel Castro speaks of death in address to Cubas Communist Party
 Reuters

HAVANA Retired Cuban leader Fidel Castro emerged from seclusion on Tuesday to muse about death and provide encouragement to his followers, in a rare speech at the closing of a Communist Party congress in Havana.

"Soon I will be 90 years old," he said. "Soon I will be like all the rest. Everybody's turn comes," Castro, whose birthday is Aug. 13, told 1,300 party activists gathered at a Havana convention centre where he delivered countless, hours-long speeches during his rule.

Cries of "Fidel, Fidel" once again rang out as the now frail former leader made his most extensive public appearance in years, speaking with a strong, if slightly hoarse, voice.

"Perhaps this will be one of the last times I speak in this room," said Castro, sporting a blue tracksuit jacket, glasses and wispy gray beard.

"The ideas of Cuban Communists will remain," he said, "as proof that on this planet, if you work hard and with dignity, you can produce the material and cultural goods human beings need."

As with other stage-managed appearances in recent years he not shown standing, even as his brother and all the delegates rose to their feet in his honour. But he looked healthier than he did for a long time after a serious illness that led him to relinquish power 10 years ago.

The eventual death of Fidel was once expected to destabilise Cuba, provoking CIA plots to kill him. The smooth transfer to his brother Raul Castro largely ended such speculation.

The congress reviewed difficulties the party faces implementing market reforms, maintaining its leadership over an increasingly diverse and informed population and dampening expectations raised by detente with the United States and President Barack Obama’s visit to the country last month.

The visit provoked Castro earlier to charge Obama was sweet-talking Cubans and had nothing to offer them, a view repeated by various delegates at the congress.

The congress proved a disappointment to many residents, especially the youth, re-electing an ageing leadership and proposing little new to tackle the country’s economic problems.

Fidel Castro took power in a 1959 revolution and led the country until 2006, when he fell ill. He now lives in relative seclusion but occasionally writes opinion pieces or appears meeting with visiting dignitaries.

The iconic figure's influence waned with his retirement and the introduction of market-style reforms by his brother, but Fidel Castro still has moral authority among many residents, especially older generations.

(Editing Frank Jack Daniel and Tom Brown)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

also read

Facebook has known for a year and a half that Instagram is bad for teens despite claiming otherwise
World

Facebook has known for a year and a half that Instagram is bad for teens despite claiming otherwise

Facebook's policy of pursuing profits regardless of documented harm has sparked comparisons to Big Tobacco, which knew in the 1950s that its products were carcinogenic but publicly denied it into the 21st century

Facebook's internal research revealed that Instagram is harmful for teens
News & Analysis

Facebook's internal research revealed that Instagram is harmful for teens

According to Facebook, parents can help by repeatedly talking to their teens about the difference between appearance and reality.

Daughter kidnapped by father reunites with mother after 14 years through Facebook
World

Daughter kidnapped by father reunites with mother after 14 years through Facebook

Their official meeting or reunion took place on Monday (13 September) in Texas, but the two had earlier met at the border last week. They met each other after communicating on social media.