The Guardian reports on the likely successor to Fidel
ZAA NKWETA, PRESENTER: Cuban President Fidel Castro announced he would not continue as president on Tuesday. With this announcement comes the question of who will take his place. Observers point to his brother, Raúl Castro. But who is he? And what can the world expect from him? We go to Shehani Fernando of The Guardian.
Courtesy: The Guardian Limited UK
RAÚL CASTRO, ACTING PRESIDENT OF CUBA: Viva la revolucion! Viva Fidel!
SHEHANI FERNANDO, REPORTING FOR THE GUARDIAN LIMITED UK: Cuba’s National Assembly will elect a new president on February 24, and 76 year old Raúl Castro is seen by many as the favorite to take over. Raúl is the youngest of the three Castro brothers. From an early age, he was a committed socialist, accompanying Fidel on some early, violent student political actions. Here he is pictured celebrating after being released from prison following the failed 1953 attack on the Moncada Barracks. It was Raúl who became friends with Ernesto Che Guevara in Mexico and got him involved in Fidel’s circle of revolutionaries. Raúl took part in the campaign in the Sierra Maestra mountain range while fighting in the rebel army and was later responsible for overseeing the execution of soldiers loyal to Batista, the dictator overthrown by the Castro revolution. Raúl was appointed head of Cuba’s armed forces in 1959 and has remained in that role ever since. The army has been crucial in propping up the ailing Cuban economy following the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s. It is also thought that Raúl has influenced financial policy from behind the scenes. On July 31, 2006, Fidel provisionally handed over power to Raúl, following what is believed to be emergency intestinal surgery. Should he take over from his brother, it is thought that Raúl will maintain the Communist Party’s power at all costs, but that he may be more willing to introduce free market economic policies.
R. CASTRO (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): If it happened tomorrow that, if the chief died, of course I would have authority and many other companions but we want the Party to have it.
FIDEL CASTRO, FORMER PRESIDENT OF CUBA (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): Really after me he’s the one with the most experience, the most knowledge.
Raúl has remained largely out of the public eye over the period of transfer, and has suggested that a collective leadership through the Communist Party could probably govern Cuba following the death of Fidel.
Raúl Castro speaking at the 50th anniversary of the launch of the Cuban revolution in December 2006.
R. CASTRO (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): We take this opportunity to once again state that we are willing to resolve at the negotiating table the long-standing dispute between the United States and Cuba as long as they accept, as we have said before, our condition that we are a country that will not tolerate any shadows on our independence.
Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.