The Cuban president, Fidel Castro, facing surgery, turns over power temporarily to his brother Raul.
In a letter read on state television by his personal secretary, Carlos Valenciaga, Castro said he had suffered intestinal bleeding brought on by the stress of recent travel. He visited Argentina last week for a regional summit and traveled to Cuba’s southern coast for the July 26 holiday that celebrates the birth of his revolution.
Castro, who will turn 80 on Aug. 13, is reported to suffer from Parkinson’s disease, although it has never been confirmed, and has looked frail in recent years during his rare forays abroad. The government released no immediate report on the results of the operation and said only that Castro was expected to be hospitalized and recovering for several weeks.
The announcement that Raul Castro, 75, would assume the leadership during the president’s surgery and recovery underscored recent signals that Cuban officials have been contemplating how the country will be ruled after the charismatic strongman dies.
Castro’s letter said his brother would assume his duties as president, commander in chief of the armed forces and head of the Communist Party. It also suggested that celebrations planned for his 80th birthday, including concerts and toasts by leading leftists from around the world, should be postponed until Dec. 2, the 50th anniversary of the Cuban armed forces.
[Source: Los Angeles Times]