Friday, August 04, 2006

Cuba says Raul Castro firmly at the helm


Fri Aug 4, 2006 7:37am ET

HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuba said on Friday that acting President Raul Castro was running the country, but provided no new details on the condition of ailing leader Fidel Castro four days after he handed over power temporarily.

"Raul is firmly at the helm of the nation and the armed forces," the ruling Communist Party newspaper said.

Rejecting calls by President Bush for a transition to multi-party democracy, the newspaper said the situation in Cuba was totally calm.

"The word transition does not exist in the vocabulary of Cubans here," Granma said.

But with neither of the Castro brothers appearing in public, uncertainty over Cuba's political future was evident on the streets of Havana, where the hustle and bustle of more normal times was noticeably subdued.

Many wondered when Raul, 75, would address the nation.

The only sign of the younger Castro was a photo on Granma's front page of his arrest at age 22 following the near-suicidal assault led by his brother on the Moncada garrison in Santiago in 1953 with a story recounting his heroism.

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