Fidel resigned years ago

Former Cuban president Fidel Castro
has said he resigned as the head of the Communist Party five years ago and has
never tried to resume the post — one that he was thought to still hold.

It was the first time that the 84-year-old
leader of Cuba’s Revolution stated so directly that he no longer heads up the
party he founded.

“Without hesitation, I
resigned all of my state and political positions, including that of the First
Secretary of the Party, when I fell ill and I never tried to exercise them
again after the proclamation of 31 July, 2006,” he wrote in an essay
published in Cuban state media.

He said he did not try to resume
his positions “even when I partially recovered my health a year later,
although everyone, affectionately, continued to refer to me by those

Cubans and foreign observers had
believed that the head of the Communist Party was the one title that Castro
still held after he was forced to cede power to his younger brother, Raul
Castro, due to a health emergency caused by intestinal problems.

Cuba plans to hold its first
Communist Party Congress in almost 14 years next month.

President Raul Castro has stressed
that the focus of the meeting will be sweeping economic changes to the
Soviet-style economy.

Castro also shot back at U.S.
President Barack Obama, who criticized Cuba in a speech in Santiago, Chile, and
demanded greater freedoms for the Cuban people.

“When the president looked
anxiously at the public after mentioning treacherous Cuba, waiting for an
explosion of applause, he was met by a glacial silence,” Castro wrote in
the essay.