Havana: Fidel Castro says he is happy with the direction in which Cuba is moving under the leadership of his brother Raul, his most explicit remarks to date about the sweeping economic changes the country is undergoing.
"I`m content, because the country is moving forward despite all the challenges," the bearded revolutionary icon told Cuban students in comments carried by the official Communist Party-newspaper Granma on Thursday.
The elder Castro stepped down in 2006 due to a serious illness that almost killed him. He re-emerged from four years of seclusion in July, but has rarely spoken about Cuban current events, preferring to use his appearances to warn of what he fears is a looming nuclear war pitting the United States and Israel against Iran.
Castro, 84, remains head of the Communist Party, though in his remarks to the students he gave the impression he had delegated many of his official duties to others.
After telling the students he was not meeting with them in his capacity as party chief, Castro said, "I got sick and I did what I had to do: delegate my duties. I cannot do something if I am not in a condition to dedicate all my time to it."
Castro described himself as a "soldier of ideas" and said he "did not hesitate for a minute to relinquish my duties”, an apparent reference to his decision to step down as president.
Part of the meeting with the students was carried on national television on Wednesday, but not Castro`s comments about his brother or his decision to delegate official duties. In the 90-minute broadcast, Castro read word-for-word from a long speech he gave to students in 2005 that he said continued to be relevant today.