Entries in Fidel Castro (7)


Pope Benedict XVI Meets with Fidel Castro in Cuba

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(HAVANA, CUBA) -- Pope Benedict XVI met privately with Fidel Castro after saying Mass in Havana's Revolutionary Square -- the centerpiece of this trip -- before tens of thousands Wednesday morning.

During the morning service, with President Raul Castro and leading Cabinet members present, Benedict pushed for reform within the Cuban government.

"Cuba and the world need change, but this will occur only if each one is in a position to seek the truth and chooses the way of love, sowing reconciliation and fraternity," he said.

Fidel Castro did not attend the Mass -- he said he caught the entire visit on the TV -- but for a half-hour afterward he met with the 84-year-old pontiff.

Fidel Castro asked many questions and said that he'd dedicated his life to reflection and study. He also reportedly presented two of his sons to the pontiff and asked that Benedict send him books.

During their conversation, Benedict explained the changes made to the Liturgy and spoke of the importance of the trip.

Catholics, especially Cubans, here and abroad, had hoped the papal voyage would spur further political and social change.

Before Wednesday's Mass, Benedict had been more muted in his public criticism of the country, although before the journey, he'd said: "It is evident that Marxist ideology in the way it was conceived no longer corresponds to reality."

Fidel Castro handed the reins of government to his brother Raul in 2006 -- 53 years since the revolution that brought him to power and communism to the island.

During Wednesday's papal visit, he was a striking contrast to the young socialist soldier whose philosophy made him a hero to some and a boogeyman to others. Even as many of the world's other communist regimes toppled over the years, Castro held firm.

"The revolution is not negotiable," he told ABC News' Diane Sawyer in 1993. "Socialism is not negotiable."

In 1998, however, he did invite anti-communist Pope John Paul to the country.

Cubans said that they remembered that visit and John Paul II's blunt call for freedom, human rights and justice for all.

Some said that Benedict seemed less effective. Even before Benedict had ended his visit, the government announced that there would be no political reform in Cuba.

"He's not going to make the change," one Cuban man told ABC News. "It's going to come from us. When we have the courage, everything can be changed."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Pope Benedict XVI Visits Cuba; Catholics Hope Trip Will Spur Change

L'Osservatore Romano Vatican-Pool/Getty Images(HAVANA) -- Pope Benedict XVI's visit to Cuba this week marks a historic visit to a country in the midst of transition, which the country's Catholics hope will spur further political and social change.

Benedict, who arrived on Monday and spent the night near Cuba's Virgin of Charity icon in the small mining town of El Cobre, will fly to Havana on Tuesday to meet with President Raul Castro.

His brother, Fidel Castro, is not expected to attend the meeting, but might make an appearance at the centerpiece of this trip: an open-air mass in Havana's Revolutionary Square on Wednesday.

The 84-year-old pontiff spoke Monday during a mass in Santiago de Cuba, the island's second largest city and hometown of the Castros.

"I appeal to you to reinvigorate your faith … that you may strive to build a renewed and open society, a better society, one more worthy of humanity," Benedict said to the crowd in the midst of a light rain.

The pope arrived on this trip carrying not only the hopes of Catholics, but of all Cubans, there and abroad, who hope his visit will help spur further freedoms.

In an earlier speech, given while Raul Castro, 80, sat by his side, the pope acknowledged them.

"I carry in my heart the just aspirations and legitimate desires of all Cubans, wherever they may be," he said.

While just 10 percent of Cubans regularly attend mass, many identify as Catholic, and most see the visit as an opportunity for the pope to appeal to the Castro government on behalf of the Cuban people.

Pope Benedict has thus far been muted in his public criticism of the country that has been run by the Communist Party of Cuba since the 1960s, although before his journey, he told reporters: "It is evident that Marxist ideology in the way it was conceived no longer corresponds to reality."

He will have an opportunity to deliver his message directly to President Castro when he meets privately with him Tuesday evening.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Former Cuban President Fidel Castro Unveils Two-Volume Memoir

ADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images(HAVANA) -- Former Cuban President Fidel Castro made a rare public appearance on Friday to talk about his new book, Guerrilla of Time, state media reported over the weekend.

The near 1,000-page two-volume memoir spans the Communist leader's life up until 1958, one year before a Castro-led revolution ousted then leader Fulgencio Batista.

Castro dictated his memoirs to journalist Katiuska Blanco, who quotes the author as saying, "I have to take advantage now, because memory fades."

At age 85, Castro made his first public appearance in more than 10 months on state telelvision to promote the book although there was no audio of him speaking.

Castro stepped down from power in 2006 for health reasons. His brother Raul Castro now runs the country.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Cuba Blasts Twitter over Fidel Castro Death Rumor

ADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images(HAVANA) -- Cuban state media blasted Twitter on Wednesday for a rumor that spread on the social networking site earlier this week claiming that former President Fidel Castro had died.

According to the Cubadebate website, the rumor was initiated by an account holder using an Italian server.  Cubadebate alleged that even after the account was deactivated, Twitter permitted the hash tag "fidelcastro" to become a trending topic, ensuring that false news of Castro's death would spread.

Meanwhile, the Cuban government also blamed anti-Castro expatriates for helping to fuel the rumor, calling them "necrophiliac counterrevolutionaries."

While the 85-year-old Castro has not been in the best of health in recent years, these reports about his death hold no truth.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Fidel Castro Mocks Obama, Calls President 'Stupid'

ADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images(HAVANA) -- President Obama is in everyone's crosshairs these days, even Fidel Castro's.

The former Cuban president used the regular column he pens in his homeland to blast U.S. policies toward the Communist island nation in which Obama said if the White House observes "positive movement then we will respond in a positive way."

Using a very sarcastic tone, Castro fired back, "How nice!  How intelligent!  So much kindness has not permitted him still to understand that 50 years of blockade and of crimes against our homeland have not been able to break our people."

According to the retired 85-year-old leader, reforms will eventually come to Cuba but only on his government's term.

Castro took his contempt for Obama a step further by claiming the president was "being stupid" for not freeing five Cuban agents held in the U.S. since 1998, although one is set for release next week.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio



Big Change at the Top of Cuba's Communist Party

ADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images(HAVANA) -- The Castro Era may finally be drawing to a close in Cuba.

For the first time since Fidel Castro became president of the socialist island nation in 1959, only to be succeeded by his brother, Raul Castro, in 2008, the second-highest spot in the Communist Party has gone to an outsider.

With Fidel Castro stepping aside Tuesday as first secretary of the Communist Party and Raul Castro taking his place, the new second-in-command is Jose Ramon Machado, an old comrade who fought in the mountains more than 50 years ago to help bring down Cuban dictator Fulgenico Batista.

At 80, Machado is no spring chicken but Fidel Castro has spoken about putting younger people into leadership roles as he quietly fades from the spotlight.  While seemingly cured of his mysterious ailment that was believed to be stomach cancer, Fidel Castro is 84 and remains frail.

There was little evidence Tuesday that much will be different in Cuba despite the personnel changes.

Raul Castro vowed, "I assume my post to defend, preserve and continue perfecting socialism, and never permit the return of capitalism."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Cuba Marks Failed Bay of Pigs Invasion

ABC News(HAVANA) -- Hundreds of thousands of Cubans turned out for a military parade through the capital of Havana on Saturday to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the failed CIA-led invasion at the Bay of Pigs.

The 1961 mission, aimed at overthrowing Fidel Castro, was unsuccessful after the Cuban leader urged his military and common citizens to fight against American-backed forces.

Many Cubans regard the day as a major victory over the United States.

Parades on Saturday showcased the socialist state's military hardware, flanked by thousands of marching young Cuban men and women who waved red handkerchiefs.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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