Tuesday, February 19, 2008

I held on to power only to thwart U.S.: Castro

Send this Article to a Friend The Hindu, Feb. 20, 2008

— Photo: AFP


END OF AN ERA:
Hero of the Cuban revolution, Fidel Castro, announced on Tuesday his decision to retire from his official positions. In a statement published online by the Communist Party daily, Granma, the 81-year-old leader said: “I communicate to you that I will not aspire to or accept … the position of President of Council of State and Commander-in-Chief” (when the National Assembly meets on Sunday). He added that he would continue to “fight as a soldier of ideas” by writing columns in the Cuban media.

HAVANA: Cuban leader Fidel Castro defied America for nearly half a century, resisting U.S. attempts to topple him while leading his country he built just 145 km south of Florida. He resigned as President on Tuesday, two years after falling ill and temporarily ceding power. Through 10 U.S. administrations beginning with that of Dwight Eisenhower, Mr. Castro survived assassination attempts, an invasion by a CIA-trained exile army at the Bay of Pigs, and a standoff with Washington over Soviet missiles that pushed the world to the brink of nuclear war. ''Socialism or death'' was Mr. Castro's rallying cry long after his beard turned gray, the Soviet Union broke up and Communism toppled across eastern Europe. The man who said ''power doesn't interest me'' as he led his rebels into Havana in 1959 said in his resignation letter that he held onto power for so long, even when ill, only because the United States ''had done everything possible to get rid of me.''

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