HAVANA Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro said on Wednesday his brother President Raul Castro did not fire two old fellow revolutionaries who lost their jobs in a government shake-up this month.
He wrote in an Internet column that Vice Presidents Pedro Miret, 82, and Osmany Cienfuegos, 78, had left for other reasons and were not dismissed.
"It's not fair to present it as 'dismissed' without some consideration," Castro wrote of the departures of the two men, who had deep ties to the revolution that put him in power in 1959.
He said Miret had health problems and Cienfuegos had been reducing his workload for several years.
"Raul Castro has no responsibility in this. It has to do in both cases simply with legal procedures," Castro wrote.
It was not disclosed until Tuesday that Miret and Cienfuegos had left their posts in a wide-ranging reshuffle by Raul Castro announced on March 2.
Miret was involved from the earliest days of the revolution, while Cienfuegos was the brother of the late Camilo Cienfuegos, one the uprising's leaders and most revered figures.
Castro praised Miret as a "great companion" and said Cienfuegos "was, and is, always a revolutionary."
Castro cited reports on the matter by Reuters and Spanish news service EFE, saying, "They are two of the western agencies closest to the imperialist policy of the United States."
Eight ministers were replaced in the shake-up that Cuban leaders said would make the government smaller and more efficient.