(AP) - Fidel Castro, who took control of Cuba in 1959, rebuffed repeated U.S. attempts to oust him and survived communism's demise almost everywhere else, temporarily relinquished his presidential powers to his brother Raul on Monday night because of surgery.
Castro, less than two weeks away from his 80th birthday, did not appear on the live television broadcast in which his secretary read a letter from the Cuban leader. It was the first time in 47 years of absolute rule that Castro has given up power, reports Trend.
In the note read by secretary Carlos Valenciaga, Castro said he underwent surgery after suffering gastrointestinal bleeding, apparently due to stress from recent public appearances in Argentina and eastern Cuba. It was not immediately clear when the surgery took place.
"The operation obligates me to undertake several weeks of rest," the letter read. Extreme stress "had provoked in me a sharp intestinal crisis with sustained bleeding that obligated me to undergo a complicated surgical procedure."
Castro, who has been affected in the recent past with occasional health problems, said he was temporarily relinquishing the presidency to his younger brother and successor Raul, the defense minister, but said the move was of "a provisional character." There was no immediate appearance or statement by Raul Castro.
The calm delivery of the announcement appeared to signal that there would be an orderly succession to Raul should Fidel become permanently incapacitated.