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Castro talk longest since illness

The former Cuban president offered no opinions on contemporary Cuba during yesterday’s address. The former Cuban president offered no opinions on contemporary Cuba during yesterday’s address. (Adalberto Roque/AFP/Getty Images)
By Will Weissert
Associated Press / September 29, 2010

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HAVANA — Fidel Castro gave his longest speech since illness forced him from power four years ago, but limited his comments yesterday to describing Cuba’s past and avoided any mention of the tumultuous economic changes the country is embarking on under his brother’s leadership.

The speech before tens of thousands marked the 50th anniversary of the establishment of neighborhood watch groups designed to defend the government against subversive activity.

As is his style lately, Castro, 84, offered no opinions on contemporary Cuban life, such as the recent decision to fire half a million workers and embrace small pockets of private enterprise.

Nor did Castro say anything about his health or future plans. Though he is no longer Cuba’s leader, he is still head of the Communist Party.

Instead he spent much of the first part of his address quoting his old speeches and joking about his age.

He used reading glasses to decipher prepared remarks and deviated little, mostly railing against what he described as the all-powerful imperialist monster of the north: the United States.

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