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Fidel Castro makes surprise speech at National Assembly

Since falling ill in 2006 and ceding the presidency to his brother, Fidel Castro has given up all official positions except as a deputy of the National Assembly, to which he was reelected again at Sunday's (Feb. 24) session. The appearance was only the second time the ageing former leader has graced the assembly chambers since his illness and the first since 2010. Castro came to power following the 1959 Cuban Revolution. Shortly afterwards the United States imposed an embargo on the island which was fully in place by 1962. In a video broadcast on state television on Monday (February 25) the former leader said the Cuban people have shown resilience over the years and that he would not be intervening in the country for much longer, nor that he would be able to remain deputy in the National Assembly for long. The 86-year-old stepped down from official duty in July 2006 after an intestinal illness that required a number of surgeries nearly killed him. He also commented on the reforms introduced by his brother, Raul Castro, who officially took over the presidency in February 2008. Castro also alluded to international issues including the growing number of inhabitants on a global scale and the challenges the world will face to feed and care for the growing population. During his speech he singled out British Prime Minister David Cameron and U.S. President Barack Obama. The National Assembly, which meets twice a year, is the highest body of power in the country and its new legislative body for 2013-2018 was composed of 612 legislators chosen on February 3. Fidel Castro's 82-year-old brother and current president, Raul Castro was also renamed president on Sunday though he confirmed that the five-year term would be his last as president paving the way for a younger generation of leaders to take power after more than a half century of the Castro brothers in power.

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