Fidel Castro: “I am Lucky To Be Alive”- Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro has said that he decided to step down and transfer power to his younger brother, Raul, because he was diagnosed with a fatal illness in 2006.
In an article published to mark his 87th birthday, Fidel Castro said he didn’t expect to survive the stomach ailment and live for so long.
“I was far from imagining that my life would extend for another seven years.”
Mr Castro had been in power since the Cuban Revolution in 1959.
The long article was only published by official newspaper Granma on Wednesday, a day after his birthday.
Mr Castro left office for treatment in 2006 but only formally resigned as commander-in-chief and president of Cuba in February 2008.
“As soon as I understood that it would be definitive, I did not hesitate to cease my charges as president,” he said in the article.
‘Free AK rifles’
Mr Castro also revealed that Cuba had received weapons from North Korea in the early 1980s.
The North Korean weapons shipment was provided after Soviet leader Yuri Andropov warned that his country was no longer prepared to step in to defend the communist-run island.
“He told us that if we were attacked by the United States we would have to fight alone,” wrote Mr Castro.
The Soviet Union renewed its commitment, however, to continue providing weapons to the island.
But Cuba decided to gather weapons from “other friends” to arm “one million Cuban fighters.”
“Comrade Kim Il Sung, a veteran and exemplary soldier, sent us 100,000 AK rifles and accompanying ammunition without charging a penny,” writes Mr Castro.
The North Korean leader, who was succeeded by his son, died in 1994.
Cuba Defends Source Of Weapon As UN Wades In For Panama Discovery
North Korea gave Cuba extensive military support in the 1980s, former President Fidel Castro has revealed as the United Nations investigated a cargo of hidden Cuban arms discovered last month in the hold of a North Korean ship.
Castro, who turned 87 on Tuesday and is rarely seen or heard from in public these days, gave his people a lengthy glimpse of his thoughts in a column dated Tuesday and run in all official media on Wednesday.
Topics included the origin of man, relations with the Soviet Union, the assassination of U.S. President John Kennedy, and the death of Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez.
A U.N. team arrived in Panama this week to check the cargo of 240 tons of “obsolete defensive weaponry” Cuba has admitted were on board the seized North Korean vessel for possible violations of international sanctions on the Asian country.
Panama seized the ship in mid-July as it made its way from Cuba to the canal with a cargo of 320,000 sacks of Cuban sugar, under which the weapons were discovered.
Cuba said the weapons were being sent back to North Korea for repair and included two anti-aircraft batteries, nine disassembled rockets, and two MiG-21 aircraft, all Soviet-era military weaponry built in the middle of the last century.