Written by John Butler
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Tuesday, 1 August 2006

image for Unwell Castro Cedes Power To Pet Goldfish
Igor, the Cuban Defense Minister, will temporarily take over from Castro

Veteran Cuban president Fidel Castro has temporarily handed leadership of the country to his pet goldfish, Igor, because of illness.

A statement written by the president and read out on TV by his personal secretary said Mr Castro had undergone surgery to halt internal bleeding and that his goldfish Igor, the current defence minister, will take over the running of the country in the interim.

The Cuban leader, who turns 80 this month, admitted a punishing schedule in recent weeks had affected his health. Castro insists however that "my beloved little schnookums can fill my shoes".

"Not literally", the leader then joked - of course he would get lost in my size elevens, heh heh... not to mention stop breathing".

This is only the third time Mr Castro has relinquished governmental duties and the first since 1978, when a freak skydiving accident forced him to hand power over to his then Minister for defence, Lucky the ladybird for 3 months.

This time around, the tiny 3 inch long goldfish had been designated as stand-in leader since the death occured of Castro's pet iguana, Suzy, the former minister for finance, 3 months ago from breast cancer.

A Government writ states that should the president become incapacitated, all decisions of national significance should be handed to Castro's most favourite pet at that particular time. At this moment that pet happens to be Igor.

Cuba has a communist, one-party system composed entirely of Castro and his pets.

In his statement, Fidel Castro said last week's anniversary of the Cuban Revolution along with a recent trip to Venezuela to discuss foreign policy with Hugo Chavez's pet aardvark, Tin Tin, had caused him "days and nights of non-stop work" and placed him under "extreme stress".

"I felt like I was living in a goldfish bowl", he explained.

Resulting intestinal bleeding, he said, meant he needed an operation which would require several weeks of rest.

"Since our country is threatened by the US Government under circumstances such as these," the statement said, Mr Castro had delegated his functions as president and first secretary of the Communist Party to his pet goldfish, who is one and a half months old.

A major celebration had been planned for 13 August - the veteran leader's 80th birthday - but his birthday has now been postponed until December. As leader of Cuba, he has a right to choose his own birthday on any given year.

In a statement to mark his surprise inauguration, Igor said, "it is an honour to take over the mantle of a man who has tenderly looked after me and never once overfed me fish flake food throughout my 142 days of existence".

Ten seconds later he said, "What was it I just said again?"

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The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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