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Raul Castro Says Communist Party Will Remain Even Without Fidel Castro


Cuban Defense Minister Raul Castro says the country's Communist Party will remain the source of political power with or without his brother, President Fidel Castro.

Raul Castro, the designated successor of the 79-year-old Cuban leader, made his remarks Thursday at an event to mark a military anniversary.

The younger Castro also described the Community Party as the guarantor of unity for all time.

Fidel Castro has criticized the Bush administration for creating a transition plan for a post-Castro Cuba. Last year, President Bush appointed a veteran congressional staff official, Caleb McCarry, to the post of Transition Coordinator for Cuba.

McCarry is to coordinate U.S. policy efforts aimed at a peaceful end to Communist rule in Cuba.

In a related development, Cuban parliament speaker Ricardo Alarcon has denied reports that President Castro suffers from a disease such as Parkinson's. He told a convention of Hispanic journalists via satellite from Havana Wednesday that Mr. Castro is very strong and healthy.

Separately, Alarcon described as "fairly exaggerated" reports that his country had imprisoned more than two dozen journalists for speaking out against the Cuban government. Alarcon said those being held were working for the United States.

Alarcon made his remarks during a tense interview with Columbia University journalism professor and New York Times contributor Mirta Ojito. She left Cuba in 1980 during the Mariel boatlift that brought thousands of Cubans to the U.S.

Some information for this report provided by AP and Reuters.

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