World

Fidel Castro Tells Cuban Congress He Will Soon Die

| by Diana Kruzman
Fidel CastroFidel Castro

Cuban revolutionary leader and former president Fidel Castro made his first public appearance in years April 19, in which he told members of the Communist Party that he would soon die, but that the socialist spirit of Cuba would continue.

"I'll be 90 years old soon," Castro said, according to the Associated Press. "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."

In his words, Castro indicated that although the country’s longstanding leadership will soon pass the reigns to a younger generation, Cuba will retain its ideological stance in the near future. The speech, which Castro addressed to the Communist Party's Seventh Party Congress, came after the party’s announcement that Fidel’s brother Raul Castro would remain as the country’s president and first secretary, while fellow revolutionary Jose Ramon Machado Ventura would hold the post of second secretary at least through 2021.

Machado Ventura helped overthrow dictator Fulgencio Batista as part of a revolutionary movement led by the Castro brothers in 1959. The revolution established Cuba as a socialist state with a single-party system and a centrally planned economy, and led to a decades-long rift with the United States that was only beginning to heal in 2015, when President Barack Obama announced the restoration of diplomatic relations with Cuba.

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In March, Obama made the first state visit of any sitting president to Cuba, in which he met with the country’s leadership and spoke to the Cuban people about the changes he hopes the country will make. Obama emphasized that he wants to restore communication between the two countries, and urged Cuba’s youth to move toward a more politically open future.

"There's already an evolution taking place inside of Cuba, a generational change," Obama said, according to NPR. "Many suggested that I come here and ask the people of Cuba to tear something down. But I'm appealing to the young people of Cuba who will lift something up, build something new."

Sources: AP via Star Tribune, NPR / Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

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