Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro gave a "valedictory speech" to the country's Communist Party congress on Tuesday, telling them he would soon die and calling for members to carry on his leftist ideals.
"I'll be 90 years old soon," he told party members at the closing ceremony of the 7th Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC). "Soon I'll be like all the others. The time will come for all of us, but the ideas of the Cuban communists will remain as proof on this planet that if they are worked at with fervor and dignity, they can produce the material and cultural goods that human beings need, and we need to fight without truce to obtain them."
Castro, 89, has retreated from the public eye in recent years as his health deteriorated. Ahead of his speech, the government announced that his brother, Raúl, would remain as PCC secretary for another five years—ensuring that he will retain one of the most powerful positions in government even after his scheduled term as president comes to an end in 2018.
The Associated Press writes:
That announcement and Fidel Castro's speech together delivered a resounding message that the island's revolutionary generation will remain in control even as its members age and die, relations with the United States are normalized, and popular dissatisfaction grows over the country's economic performance.
State-run television showed the elderly leader speaking to the congress in a "strong if occasionally trembling voice."
Cuban newspaper Escambray also reported on Castro's remarks:
Why did I become a socialist? More clearly, why did I become a Communist?, he asked, and explained how he acquired his ideology, without a private tutor to help him in the study of Marxism-Leninism, and stressed that another 70 years should not elapse for an event like the Russian revolution to occur, for humanity to have another example of a great social revolution that represented a huge step in the fight against colonialism and its inseparable companion, imperialism.
However, he warned that the greatest danger now hovering over Earth derives from the destructive power of modern weaponry, because it could undermine peace in the world and make it impossible for human life on the surface of the earth to exist.
"We will set out and will improve what should be improved, with utmost loyalty and united force, like Marti, Maceo, and Gomez, in unstoppable march," Castro concluded, referring to historic Cuban icons.