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Fidel Castro Denies Rift With Raul's Government

Former Cuban President Fidel Castro refuted reports of any rift with the present government following his sharp criticism of the European Union's decision to lift its sanctions on Cuba over reforms initiated by his brother and successor Raul Castro.

He also denied that he is the leader of a faction of hard-line Communists peeved over the reforms the present government has been introducing since the beginning of the year.

"I am not now, nor will I ever be at the head of any group or faction. Therefore, it can't follow that there is infighting in the party," Castro said in a commentary appearing on the official website Cubadebate Sunday. In the commentary under the title, "Reflections from Comrade Fidel," he defended his decision to continue writing on his country's policies saying, "I write because I'm still in the struggle, and I do so to uphold the beliefs I've defended all my life."

However, the recuperating 81-year-old former leader did not clarify the scathing attack Friday on the European Union's decision a day earlier to lift its sanctions on Cuba. He branded the E.U.'s decision "a great hypocrisy" as it linked it to human rights progress and democratic reforms in Cuba, and also in view of the "brutal" immigration law passed a few days earlier by the 27-nation bloc that made illegal immigration a crime.

Raul, who officially assumed office in February, has been the de facto ruler since late July 2006 when his elder brother was indisposed following an intestinal surgery.

Dissident and opposition groups see inconsistencies between Fidel Castro's writings and the government's recent reforms, although party officials beg to differ and insist the Castro brothers, though different, toe the same political line.

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