December 18, 2007 in Nation/World

Castro letter hints at retirement

The Spokesman-Review
 
The Spokesman-Review photo

Marcos
(Full-size photo)

Ailing leader Fidel Castro said in a letter read on state television Monday that he does not intend to cling to power forever or stand in the way of a younger generation, but invoked the example of a renowned Brazilian architect who is still working at 100.

“My elemental duty is not to cling to positions, or even less to obstruct the path of younger people, but to share experiences and ideas whose modest worth comes from the exceptional era in which I lived,” Castro wrote.

Castro, 81, has not said when – or even if – he will permanently step aside after temporarily ceding his powers to his younger brother Raul 16 months ago. He has not been seen in public since he made that announcement in July 2006 after undergoing emergency intestinal surgery.

Officially, Castro remains the president of Cuba’s Council of State, making him the country’s head of government. “I think like (Oscar) Niemeyer that you have to be of consequence up to the end,” Castro wrote in Monday’s essay, referring to the Brazilian architect who turned 100 on Saturday.

MEXICO CITY

Masked rebel going back into shadows

Mexico’s famed masked rebel, Subcomandante Marcos, says he is withdrawing again to the shadows, ending nearly two years of public appearances meant to bolster a grass-roots leftist movement.

Marcos became the eloquent voice of the Zapatista National Liberation Army as it burst out of the jungles of southern Mexico on Jan. 1, 1994, to seize several cities in the name of socialism and Indian rights.

He has vanished before from public view for years, returning to barnstorm around Mexico to promote the Zapatista views.

“This is the last time, at least for a good while, that we will come out for activities of this type,” Marcos said at a seminar Sunday in the southern state of Chiapas.

A cease-fire ended fighting between Zapatista rebels and government forces a few days after the initial uprising, and the two sides have since maintained an uneasy truce.

CARACAS, Venezuela

Chavez suggests exhuming Bolivar

President Hugo Chavez said Monday that Venezuela should open the coffin of independence hero Simon Bolivar to examine the bones, saying there are sufficient doubts about his death in 1830 to warrant a full investigation.

Although history books maintain Bolivar died of tuberculosis, Chavez said doubts exist because some writings suggest the South American “Liberator” might have been murdered.

Chavez has raised this theory before, but went further during a speech on the anniversary of Bolivar’s death.

“Who knows if they even made Bolivar’s bones disappear? We have to determine it now,” Chavez said. “We have the moral obligation to dispel this mystery, to open … this sacred coffin and check the remains.”


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