Fidel Castro has resigned as the President of Cuba after 49 years of tyrannical rule. His brother looks to continue the oppression.
Fidel Castro today announced his retirement as head of state of Cuba, 49 years after he seized power in an armed revolution.
His resignation will bring to an end to one of the world’s longest reigns in power.
The 81-year-old, who handed over power to his brother, Raúl, in July 2006 after surgery, said in a letter published on the site of the official state newspaper, Granma: “I communicate to you that I will not aspire to or accept … the position of president of council of state and commander in chief.”
Castro has not appeared in public for almost 19 months after being stricken by an undisclosed illness. His retirement brings down the curtain on a political career that spanned the cold war, CIA assassination attempts and the demise of Soviet communism. He has outlasted nine US presidents.
A charismatic leader famous for his long speeches delivered in his green military fatigues, Castro is admired in the developing world for standing up to the US but considered by his opponents as an authoritarian who threw his critics into jail.
Castro hinted in December last year that he would stand down to make way for a leader from the younger generation.
He appeared on national television saying: “My essential duty is not to cling to office nor to obstruct the rise of people much younger, but to pass on experience and ideas whose modest value arises from the exceptional times in which I lived.”
A new parliament elected in January will meet on Sunday. They will in turn elect a new president in March, just as the US is going through the process of choosing its own presidential candidates.
Castro’s brother is expected to be nominated by the national assembly as president. However, it has always been felt that his role would be temporary and that a younger person would take over in the long term. One of the current favourites for the position is Carlos Lage, the 56-year old vice-president.