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Castro: Cuba's Socialist System Will Survive - 2003-12-06

Cuban President Fidel Castro says his socialist system will survive him.

Mr. Castro's made the comment Friday, as he helped celebrate the 10th birthday of shipwreck survivor Elian Gonzalez.

Elian was thrust to the center of an international custody battle four years ago after he was found clinging to an inner tube in waters off the coast of Florida.

In a two-hour speech delivered at the young boy's school in Cardenas, Mr. Castro said Cuba's revolution does not depend on one, two or three individuals.

He also blasted Cuban-Americans and U.S. officials who met earlier Friday in Washington, calling them "idiots" who would die of bitterness, frustration and shock at how Cuba has survived more than 40 years of a U.S. blockade.

Mr. Castro's inevitable death someday and its likely effect on Cuba's future are a constant source of speculation in Cuba and abroad.

The 77-year-old leader, who will celebrate 45 years in power this New Year's Day, is the world's longest-ruling head of government and leader of only four remaining socialist countries in the world.