Cuba’s Fidel Castro has claimed that he resigned the leadership of the Communist Party after he nearly died five years ago — raising questions about why the change in the nation’s second-most important title was never announced until now.
The declaration appears to signal that Castro’s brother and successor, Raúl, will enter a crucial Communist Party Congress next month with a total grip on power, though Raúl has repeatedly said that he consults Castro on major decisions.
“Without vacillating I renounced all my state and political jobs, including that of first secretary of the party, when I got sick ... although everyone continued to use those titles affectionately,” he wrote in a column published Tuesday.
The 84-year-old revolutionary leader announced in 2006 that he had “temporarily’’ turned over his government powers to Raúl and other senior Havana officials after undergoing emergency surgery. Raúl was officially elected to succeed him in 2008.
But Castro had never before said that he also gave up the title of first secretary of the Communist Party, the island’s only legal political party and described by Cuba’s constitution as “the superior directing force of society and the state.”
Just why Castro waited until Tuesday to make the announcement remained a mystery.
Perhaps he did not want to make the change public in 2006 “thinking that could cause a shock among the Cuban people,” said Max Lesnick, a Miami radio commentator who travels to Havana frequently and chatted with Castro last year.
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