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Castro Hints at Retiring from Cuban Leadership

Ailing Cuban leader Fidel Castro said in a letter read on national television he does not want to stay in power forever, suggesting he may retire from leadership. In Miami, VOA's Brian Wagner reports the comments were made ahead of nationwide elections that begin next month.

Cuban state television broadcast the comments from the 81-year-old Cuban leader, who has not been seen in public since undergoing intestinal surgery in July 2006. A presenter read the letter, which Mr. Castro devoted mostly to the Bali summit on global warming.

He also said his duty is not to hold on to positions or block the path of younger people, but to share the experiences and ideas from his life.

Mr. Castro handed power to his brother, Raul, 16 months ago, and since then has written a series of essays and letters, including some where he says his physical recovery has been a difficult process. Officially, he remains head of Cuba's government.

Mr. Castro has been nominated to stand for re-election to the National Assembly in next month's election. Only as a member of the assembly he would be eligible to serve on the Council of State and as its president.

Fidel Castro is one of the world's most enduring heads of state, having served in that role since 1959.