News / Americas

Cuban President Raul Castro Suggests Retirement

Cuba's President Raul Castro talks to the media after a wreath-laying ceremony at the Soviet Soldier monument in Havana, February 22, 2013.
Cuba's President Raul Castro talks to the media after a wreath-laying ceremony at the Soviet Soldier monument in Havana, February 22, 2013.
Cuban President Raul Castro, who is expected to begin a second five-year term on Sunday, jokingly told reporters on Friday that he was planning his retirement but left open just when he would step down.

"I'm going to retire," said a grinning Castro in the company of visiting Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

Castro urged reporters to pay close attention to the National Assembly meeting this weekend, when a Council of State and president will be elected.

"I'm going to turn 82, I have a right to retire already," Castro said. "You don't believe me? Why are you so incredulous?" he added in an exchange with reporters as he visited a monument to fallen Soviet soldiers.

"It will be an interesting speech. Pay attention," Castro said before leaving with Medvedev.

Castro, who replaced his ailing brother Fidel in 2008 and turns 82 in June, has in recent years repeatedly stated that Communist Party and government leaders should be held to two, five-year terms in office.

Castro would begin his second term on Sunday, which would theoretically leave him free to retire in 2018, aged 86.

During his first term, Castro has presided over a reform process that included the gradual loosening of restrictions on travel and personal property while moving the economy in a more market-friendly direction.

He has said it is the responsibility of those who built the 54-year-old revolution to see the reforms through and leave Cuba in better condition for a new generation of leaders.

Castro, despite his age, appears fit and lucid and is widely expected by foreign experts, diplomats and Cubans to serve a second term.

"Whether it happens now or after a second term, there's no shame in putting the limits of Raul Castro's presidential tenure on the table," said Julia Sweig, director of Latin America studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, a U.S. think tank.

"I see this as very consistent with his style - but I would be surprised if this Sunday's speech would indicate he won't stand for a second term," Sweig said.

You May Like

Photogallery Belgian Security Measures Foreshadow New Normal for Europe

Rising threat of terrorism, disaffected Muslim populations and open borders, along with refugee, migrant crisis, are creating perfect storm for Europe, which some analysts fear continent is ill-suited to weather

Competing Claims of Responsibility for Mali Hotel Attack

Malian authorities ask public for help in identifying gunmen killed in attack, amid conflicting claims of responsibility from multiple jihadist groups active in the country

Video Debt-ridden Refugees Await Onslaught of Lebanese Winter

Aid agencies are attempting to reduce potentially devastating consequences of freezing conditions and snowstorms that killed eight last year, including three Syrian refugees

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs

More Americas News

Canada Extends Deadline to Bring in 25,000 Syrian Refugees

Humanitarian workers across Middle East have been gearing up for massive airlift of Syrian refugees to Canada

Canada Refugee Plan Revives Concerns Over Porous US Border

Border agents, some residents say they are concerned about Ottawa's plan to bring in 25,000 Syrians by year-end, even though the government there insists its screening will be thorough

Quake in Mexico Shakes Capital, No Reported Damage or Injuries

USGS says 5.5. magnitude quake had its epicenter 257 km (160 miles) south of Mexico City in the southwestern state of Guerrero

Venezuela Opposition Delighted at Macri's Argentina Presidential Win

Activists see election result in Argentina as blow for leftists in Latin America, good omen for their parliamentary vote next month

Climate Change Sends Chile's Wine Industry Southward

Vintners in the world's fourth largest wine exporter are watching some of their promising vines wither with climate change

President-elect Promises to Reboot Argentine Economy

Mauricio Macri also calls on Central Bank's top tier to step aside and says he wants Venezuela suspended from Mercosur trading bloc for human rights abuses