Live

Watch CBSN Live

Castro Praises Obama In Blog, Alludes To Waning Health

(AP Photo/HO, Juventud Rebelde)
Ailing Cuban leader Fidel Castro continued to praise newly inaugurated U.S. President Barack Obama in a blog posted late Thursday on the Cuban Web site, Cubadebate.cu.

His post took a personal turn, saying he has decided to remove himself further from domestic affairs on the island. While saying, "I am fine," he urged government and Communist Party leaders to do what they have to without first considering what he might have to say or the state of his health.

Castro writes that he has been going over his speeches and writings for the past 50 years before noting, "I have had the rare privilege of observing events for a very long time. I receive information and consider events calmly. I don't expect to still have that privilege in four years when Obama winds up his first presidential term."

Last year, Castro wrote an average of eight articles a month for the Cuban press. But after a Dec. 15, 2008 article, there was a long silence that prompted rumors of his worsening health.

Nevertheless, he met yesterday with visiting Argentinean president Cristina Fernandez, who said he "looked good."

In his Thursday blog entry, Castro said that his silence has been self-imposed, "so as not to interfere or disturb the comrades in the State and Party who have to make constant decisions as they confront the objective difficulties derived from the world economic crisis."

The former Cuban president's blog post is entitled "The Eleventh President of the United States," referring to those who have been in office since his revolution triumphed on Jan. 1, 1959.

"No one can doubt the sincerity of his words when he affirms that he will turn his country into a model of liberty, respect for human rights in the world and for the independence of other peoples," Castro writes – unusual coming from Havana when describing a U.S. president.

Mr. Obama has "already affirmed with confidence," continues Castro, "that the prison and torture in the illegal Guantanamo Base will stop immediately." This begins to undermine those who have used the cult of terror as an essential element in U.S. foreign policy, Castro says.

Castro, 82, and ill for the last 2 ½ years, describes Obama as having "an intelligent and noble face" and as a self-made man under "the inspiration of Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, until he became the living symbol of the American dream."

But Castro, whose greatest foe these past 50 years has been the United States, warns that despite all the tests he's gone through, Obama "has not passed the main one of all."

"What will he do shortly, when the immense power he has taken in his hands will be absolutely useless to overcome the insolvable antagonistic contradictions of the system?"

All in all, one gets the impression that Castro likes Obama, would like to meet him, probably thinks he's someone with whom he could have a meeting of the minds and regrets that such an encounter is unlikely to happen, in part because of his age and illness.

At the same time, and in a way very true to character, Castro is trying to fade away so as to cause the least disruption in Cuba, and hints that there are some people in decision making positions who are afraid to do anything they think he wouldn't like. He's telling them to get over it.

View CBS News In