The Miami Herald
June 29, 2001

Castro ratifies brother as his successor

 NEW YORK -- (AP) -- Speaking for the first time about a possible successor since his fainting spell last weekend, Fidel Castro told NBC in an interview Thursday night that his brother Raúl remains his likely replacement.

 ``Raúl is very healthy . . . undoubtedly, he's the comrade who has the most authority after me,'' Castro said in the report aired on NBC's Nightly News.

 ``And he has the most experience,'' Castro said. ``Therefore I think he has the capacity to succeed me.''

 Castro, who will turn 75 in August, has been in power since the Cuban revolution's triumph on Jan. 1, 1959. Raúl Castro, Cuba's defense minister, is 70.

 During the Communist Party's Fifth Congress in 1997, Fidel Castro described his younger brother as his ``relevo'' -- a Spanish military term for changing of the guard.

 ``It is not something that I'm worried about, succession,'' Castro said in the interview.

 The Cuban nation was stunned on Saturday morning when the president appeared to faint two hours into a live televised speech given under a sweltering sun before a
 crowd of about 60,000 people.

 ``I did not realize what was happening,'' Castro told NBC. ``I was really drenched in sweat. All of a sudden I don't remember what happened. I did realize I was being
 carried away.''

 When asked if he passed out, the Cuban leader replied: ``Well yes, perhaps passed out. For about 15 seconds.

 ``It was like going to sleep,'' he added. ``Like falling asleep. Like sometimes when you are watching TV.''

                                    © 2001