Raul Castro Assumes Spotlight

Dictator's brother fills in at annual rite, rapping US, Bush
By Heather McPherson,  Newser User
Posted Jul 26, 2007 3:25 PM CDT

(Newser) – Fidel Castro did not give his usual sermon at Cuba's annual Revolution Day celebration today; instead, his brother Raul took center stage. The no-longer-quite-so-interim leader, who assumed power a year ago because of his brother's health problems, told a cheering crowd that he's willing to negotiate with the US after the Bush administration leaves office, the Miami Herald reports.

"If you are ready to talk in a civilized manner, we are prepared to do so," he said. In an hourlong speech in the central city of Camaguey, Castro also rebuked the US for not issuing a promised 20,000 visas a year to Cubans, urged workers to increase their discipline, and called for the nation to bolster its food production.