For the first time in nearly 50 years as president of Cuba, Fidel Castro has been forced to hand over power. In his last public appearance he declared that he would lead the country until the end of his days. Poor health led to him relinquishing his posts on Monday. In a statement read out on television, it was announced that the 79-year-old president needed surgery on his intestines. His condition has been attributed to extreme stress after he over-exerted himself on a trip this month.
The operation will force Castro to rest for several weeks. In the interim, he has delegated his post to Raul Castro, his 75-year-old younger brother and designated successor. Castro’s health has been an issue since he fainted during a speech in 2001. Three years ago he stumbled during another speech, fracturing a knee and an arm. As the news or his operation broke, celebrations erupted in Miami, a hotbed of opposition to the Communist government.