Monday, August 07, 2006
Cuba Says Raul Castro in Firm Control
Aug 04 7:42 PM US/Eastern
By ANITA SNOW
Associated Press Writer
The Communist leadership assured Cubans on Friday that Raul Castro was in firm control as acting president, and the health minister said Fidel Castro was "recovering satisfactorily" from intestinal surgery.
The government also issued its first decree since Fidel temporarily stepped down Monday for the first time in 47 years: The Foreign Ministry condemned Israel's bombing of the Lebanese village of Qana, calling it "cowardly, vile and criminal" and urging the world to force an immediate cease-fire.
The statement came as the government insisted it was operating normally, even though the island's longtime leader has temporarily ceded power to his younger brother Raul, the defense minister.
Some Cuban exiles, seizing on the unprecedented transfer of power, called for the U.S. government to do more to encourage a democratic transition on the island. But Cuba's government appeared undaunted.
"The unity and strength of the Revolution is being reinforced," said Granma, the Communist Party newspaper.
"We Cubans are prepared for the defense ... and Raul is there firmly at the helm of the nation, of the Revolutionary Armed Forces," Granma said.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urged the Cuban people not to flee the island for Florida because of political uncertainty.
Rice promised the Cuban people humanitarian assistance when they begin "to chart a new course" after long years of communist rule.
"We encourage the people of Cuba to work at home for positive change," Rice said, signaling that the United States would not favor a mass exodus of the kind that Cubans undertook in 1980 and 1994.
Her remarks to the Cuban people were aired on the heavily jammed TV Marti and Radio
Intellectuals rally behind Cuba
Garcia Marquez has also condemned the use of the death penalty
More than 160 writers, artists and actors from across the Americas and Europe have signed a declaration in support of the Cuban Government.
Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Hollywood actor Danny Glover were among the figures to sign a message condemning "harassment of Cuba", which was read out at May Day celebrations in Havana.