Castro Reappears and Warns of Nuclear War

Former president of Cuba, Fidel Castro, participated today, for the first time since he left power four years ago, in a session of the National Assembly in which he appeared dressed in olive green along with is brother, and successor, Raúl Castro. He stated there could be nuclear war if the United States and Israel attack Iran.

Dressed in olive green, the former leader, who will be 84 years old next Friday, was greeted by an ovation as he entered along with his brother, President Raúl Castro, and red a message to the National Assembly, of which he is still a member.

The extraordinary legislative session, broadcast throughout the country by radio and television, at which the foreign press was also present, was requested by Castro so he could speak of the danger of nuclear war if the United States and Israel attack Iran.

Standing on the platform Castro said United States president Barack Obama would have to give the order to unleash a nuclear conflict "alone" but "will not do so if it can be assured he is made aware of this," he added.

"We are making a contribution to this persuasive effort" which is also being made by others, he said.

The former president has recovered notably after having come close to death, and after a prolonged retirement for medical reasons, he appeared in about ten small acts and encounters. Cubans watched on a pre-recorded version of these on television.

At these meetings, to which he arrived in civilian clothing and with an olive green shirt with no military insignias, Castro debated with scientists, intellectuals, economists, young people and artists, regarding international problems, without speaking of the island's situation.

After an intestinal health crisis, Castro delegated power to his brother on 31 July 2006, but retains the influential position of first secretary to the governing Communist Party, and continues to be acknowledged as the Commander in Chief.

The extraordinary session was held one week after the first of two ordinary annual Parliament meetings, in which Raúl Castro announced measures to face the economic crisis, such as the opening of small private businesses.

Fidel Castro, who like his brother has a seat in the 611-member Parliament, abstained from participating in that session, and in the events commemorating the revolution on July 26th, despite the expectation created by his improved health.

During his convalescence, he received dignitaries and friends at his home - photos and videos of this were published - in a track suit, and has not returned to wearing the olive green uniform with insignias of Commander in Chief, the symbol of his power and leadership.

Since 2007 he has penned articles for a section titled "Compañero Fidel's Reflections", the latest of which have been dedicated to the Middle East. In the most recent of these, published last Wednesday, he asked the president of the United States, Barack Obama, to avoid a nuclear "apocalypse".

Castro insists that war is "inevitable" and could begin as soon as any U.S. or Israeli ship registers an Iranian merchant ship, in compliance with sanctions approved by the UN Security Council against that country.

Cubans, surprised by Fidel Castro's recovery and constant activity, note that he abstains from giving his opinions on domestic policy, and in general, they don't believe Castro, who ruled over them for 48 years between the triumph of the revolution in 1959 and the 31st of July 2006, will return to power.

During his most recent public appearance, the communist leader presented a first edition of his memoirs to his former comrades in arms, titled "La Victoria Estratégica" (Strategic Victory), regarding his fighting in the mountains of Eastern Cuba.

The book, not yet in bookstores, includes an autobiography, published on Thursday by website, in which the communist leader described himself as an eternal rebel, although he says he was not born a "politician".

This is a translation. Read this article in Spanish here.

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