Castro writes about his lack of longevity (Lead)

January 23rd, 2009 - 2:33 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaHavana, Jan 23 (DPA) Former Cuban president Fidel Castro said in an online essay that he doubts he would have the “privilege” to observe world events in four years and said he wanted to reduce his influence in Cuba’s government.The revolutionary leader posted the essay Thursday on a government website, writing about the inauguration of President Barack Obama in the United States, Cuba’s long-time ideological rival.

“I have had the rare privilege to observe events over such a long time,” the 82-year-old wrote in the closing of the essay. “I receive information and meditate calmly about those events. I expect I won’t enjoy that privilege in four years, when Obama’s first presidential term has ended.”

Castro also said that this year, he intended to reduce the number of his Reflections essays, “so as not to interfere or get in the way of the (Communist) Party or government comrades in the constant decisions they must make, facing difficult objectives caused by the global economic crisis.”

He insisted, however, that “I am well” and indicated he wanted to have no more influence on Cuba’s leaders.

“None of them should feel bound by my occasional Reflections, my state of health or my death,” he wrote.

In Thursday’s essay, Castro said of Obama: “No one can doubt the sincerity of his words when he affirms that he will convert his country into a model of freedom, respect for human rights in the world and the independence of other nations.”

Castro also said the new US president “had transformed himself under the inspiration of Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr into a living symbol of the American dream.”

Castro has not been seen in public since he handed over his presidential powers to his brother Raul in July 2006 after undergoing intestinal surgery.

Photographs of Fidel Castro have been released, however, and he has continued to write the Reflections essays, which are published in the state media.

Rumours have swirled about his health since his illness and re-emerged after he failed to appear at the 50th anniversary of Cuba’s socialist revolution on Jan 1.

Comments by close friend and ally Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez that Fidel Castro would no longer appear in public also fuelled rumours that Cuba’s leader for 49 years was near death.

However, he met this week visiting Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, who pronounced him well.

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