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Fidel Castro appears publicly alongside brother Raul for the first time in five years

April 19, 2011 | 12:48 pm

Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro and his brother, Cuba's President Raul Castro, speak during the closing ceremony of the sixth Cuban Communist Party (PCC) congress in Havana

Former President Fidel Castro made a surprise visit to Cuba's Communist Party Congress on Tuesday. It was a big day in Havana as the party congress named a 15-member political bureau to lead the island nation for the next five years.

Sporting a blue Fila windbreaker, Castro and his brother Raul, the current president, basked in the glow of a standing ovation from the assembly of delegates, who hadn't seen the brothers appear publicly together since Fidel passed the torch to Raul, 79, about five years ago.

"I assume my post to defend, preserve and continue perfecting socialism, and never permit the return of capitalism," Raul defiantly told the congress.

Of the 15 members of the political bureau, most are veterans of previous bureaus, the preponderant are men, five are generals who return to their seats, and the majority are in their 60s or are older.

Although Fidel's day-to-day duties may have dwindled, he has continued to blog regularly, posting three times in the last two days.

"The Party leadership must be composed of the best political talents among our people, capable of confronting the politics of the empire which are endangering the human species and creating gangsters like those in NATO, capable of launching more than 4,000 bombing missions against an African nation in only 29 days, since the shameful Odyssey Dawn," Castro wrote Sunday after the congressional debates.

"It is the duty of the new generation of revolutionary men and women to be exemplary leaders, modest, studious and unwavering fighters for socialism," the 84-year-old former president wrote. "Overcoming, in the barbarous stage of the consumer society, the system of capitalist production which promotes and foments the selfish instincts of human beings constitutes, no doubt, a difficult challenge."


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Note: Andrew Malcolm is on vacation.

-- Tony Pierce

Photo: Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro and his brother, current President Raul Castro, speak during the closing ceremony of the Cuban Communist Party Congress in Havana on Tuesday. Credit: Desmond Boylan / Reuters