HAVANA (AP) — Retired Cuban leader Fidel Castro has been nominated for a seat in the country's parliament, authorities said Sunday.
The afternoon TV news announced "the leader of the Cuban Revolution Fidel Castro Ruz heads the list of 25 candidates to the Cuban parliament from the municipality of Santiago de Cuba, approved by the delegates of this state body."
Castro was also named as a delegate in 2008, when he officially retired as president. It's unclear whether he has played an active role in legislative duties in the years since.
The current session of parliament held its last gathering last week and is due to reconvene with new membership in February following elections. It's expected to rename to the presidency Castro's younger brother Raul, who was also nominated as a representative of the municipality of Segundo Frente.
Fidel Castro, 86, stepped down as president temporarily in 2006 due to a near-fatal illness and left the presidency for good two years later. Raul has been in charge since then.
Today the elder Castro spends most of his time out of the public eye and has ceased penning his once-regular essays known as "Reflections."
In October, Castro mocked those who are anxious to see him depart this world after speculation that his health was dire once again made the rounds on the rumor mill.
In an essay ironically titled "Fidel is Dying," he explained that he decided to stop publishing the opinion pieces not due to poor health, but because the space that Cuban state media devoted to his words was needed for other purposes.
This weekend he once again ended weeks of public silence in a letter that Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro read to a ceremony marking the eighth anniversary of the ALBA block of Latin American nations.
In it Castro praised his friend and ally President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, who is recovering from cancer surgery in Cuba, and recalled the two men's first encounter 18 years ago.
"The name of Hugo Chavez is admired and respected throughout the world," Castro wrote in the letter, which was dated Saturday. "Everyone and even many of his adversaries wish his quick recovery."
"The doctors are fighting with optimism for that objective," Castro concluded.
Also Saturday, a high-ranking Venezuelan official said Castro has been paying daily visits to Chavez since last Tuesday's operation.
"He always stops by to personally find out about El Comandante's health condition and also to share his knowledge with all of us, and to give the family courage and encouragement," said Science and Technology Minister Jorge Arreaza, who is also Chavez's son-in-law. He spoke to Venezuelan television by phone from Havana.
Associated Press writer Anne-Marie Garcia in Havana contributed to this report.
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