02/23/13 - Philadelphia Inquirer - Raul Castro hints he may retire
HAVANA - Cuban President Raul Castro has unexpectedly raised the
possibility of leaving his post, saying Friday that he is old and has a
right to retire. But he did not say when he might do so or if such a move
The Cuban leader is scheduled to be named by parliament to a new five-year
term on Sunday, and he urged reporters to listen to his speech that day.
"I am going to resign," Castro said at a joint appearance with visiting
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.
"I am going to be 82 years old," Castro added, the hint of a smile on his
face. "I have the right to retire, don't you think?"
Castro's tone was light and his comments came in informal remarks at a
mausoleum dedicated to soldiers from the former Soviet Union who have died
around the world.
The Cuban leader has spoken before of his desire to implement a two-term
limit for all Cuban government positions, including the presidency. He has
also alluded to the limited time he has left to overhaul the island's weak
Marxist economy. That has led many to speculate that this upcoming term
would be his last, though term limits have never been codified into Cuban
In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland had no comment
on Castro's remarks.
Most Havana residents had not heard about the comments, which were not
shown on Cuban TV, although other footage from his appearance was shown.
Until now, all eyes had been on who would emerge as Castro's first and
second vice presidents during Sunday's proceedings. The positions are
currently occupied by two loyal octogenarians who fought in the 1959
Putting someone younger in one of those roles would be the first sign that
Castro was settling on a potential next-generation successor, something he
and his brother Fidel have never done.
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