In a rare public speech Tuesday, former Cuban communist leader Fidel Castro told a crowd of party loyalists that while he is close to the end of his life, “the ideas of Cuban Communists will remain” long after he is gone.
Castro was speaking during the closing of the Cuban Communist Party congress in Havana, which had just re-appointed his brother, Raul, as head of the party for another five years. Raul is six years younger than Fidel.
"I'll be 90 years old soon," Fidel said to the crowd of about 1,300. "Soon I'll be like all the others. The time will come for all of us.”
While the elder Castro brother looked frail, but healthy in one of his most extensive public appearances since a serious illness ten years ago forced him to relinquish control of the communist government he helped form.
"Perhaps this will be one of the last times I speak in this room," he said. “But the ideas of the Cuban Communists will remain as proof on this planet that if they are worked at with fervor and dignity, they can produce the material and cultural goods that human beings need, and we need to fight without a truce to obtain them."
Fidel’s comments came at the end of the four-day secret party congress, which coincided with the 55th anniversary of the failed Bay of Pigs invasion by U. S. supported counterrevolutionaries. The twice-a-decade congress ended a month after U.S. President Barack Obama's historic visit to Havana, the first visit to Cuba by a sitting U.S. president in nearly 90 years.
Prior to Tuesday’s appearance, Fidel had been living in relative seclusion, writing an occasional newspaper column and appearing with visiting world leaders.