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Fidel Castro describes aches and pains of aging

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 12, 2013 at 11:23 am •  Published: February 12, 2013
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"Yes, I'm old, but I can still do my job," Benedict said, according to a Vatican spokesman. He left Cuba the next day with the farewell: "Goodbye forever."

In the newly published comments, Castro lauds the economic changes being carried out under the leadership of his 81-year-old brother, Raul, who has been president since 2006, saying the state has "a duty to bring itself up to date."

He also applauds the Cuban people for electing more women than men to the 612-seat National Assembly.

In Cuban elections, there is only one candidate for each seat, and no suspense over who will win. Voters' only choice is whether to approve of them or not, and most candidates receive well over 90 percent.

In an echo of the broad-ranging style of his past, Castro's comments stretch from the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, to the colonization of Mars, to the 1794 execution of Robespierre during the French Revolution, and to environmental threats facing the world today.

Perhaps betraying his age, he questions journalists about their recording equipment and marvels at a smart phone one used to tape the interview.

"What's that apparatus?" Castro asks.

"It's a telephone that also functions as a recorder, Comandante," journalist Amaury del Valle replies.

"Oh really?" asks Castro. "I have to use a lot of gadgets of that kind but people help me."

The journalists praise Castro effusively, complimenting him on his memory, inviting him to a journalists' conference and telling him that they and the Cuban people carry him in their hearts.

"Thank you for seeing us. We are so happy because of it," Cuban television reporter Gladys Rubio says.

As Castro leaves, there are chants of: "Fidel! Fidel! Fidel!"

Castro has been increasingly private in recent years after re-emerging in 2010 following a long illness. Last year, he announced that he would no longer write his trademark opinion pieces, known as "Reflections."

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Paul Haven on Twitter: www.twitter.com/paulhaven