HAVANA – Fidel Castro said last Friday that the election of a new president will not bring change to the United States, but failed to mention Barack Obama by name.
In an essay posted on a government-controlled Web site, the ailing 82-year-old former president scoffed at any notion communist Cuba will "transition" toward capitalist reforms and promised to watch closely as leaders from around the world gather in Washington this weekend to discuss the global financial meltdown.
He also chided U.S. President George W. Bush for suggesting the G-20 summit will be able to accomplish a "new financial world order."
Before the U.S. election, Castro wrote that Obama was smarter and less of a war hawk than Republican John McCain, but also suggested that American racism would keep the Democrat from winning the White House. The election's results were reported in state-controlled Cuban media, but Castro has yet to comment directly on Obama.
His silence is thought to be a key reason why Cuba's government has said little about the U.S. president-elect.
Without mentioning Obama by name, Castro wrote Friday that "many say that with the simple change in head of the empire, it will be more tolerant and less bellicose." Cuban officials routinely refer to the United States as "the empire."
He then paid a backhanded compliment to Obama, saying "it would be extremely naive to believe that the good intentions of an intelligent person could change centuries of interests and selfishness already created."
Suffering from an undisclosed illness, Castro has not been seen in public since undergoing emergency intestinal surgery in July 2006. His younger brother Raul formally succeeded him in February. But the former president has continued to release essays on a variety of mostly international topics every few days.