July 24, 2007 / 2:36 PM / 12 years ago

FACTBOX: Key facts about Cuba's Raul Castro

(Reuters) - Five facts about Raul Castro, Cuba’s acting president, who has run the government since his brother Fidel Castro fell ill a year ago:

* Raul Castro is the world’s longest serving defense minister, in office since Cuba’s 1959 revolution. He fought alongside Fidel Castro and Che Guevara and lived in his brother’s shadow until last July.

* He built up the largest army in Latin America, some 300,000 strong. Its greatest success was the defeat of South African troops and CIA-backed rebels in Angola in 1987 that hastened the independence of Namibia and the end of apartheid.

* “Beans are more important than guns,” he said in 1994 as he downsized the army to one-fifth its size to help overcome a deep economic crisis following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

* Raul Castro last year advocated paying farmers more to ensure food on Cuban tables, and encouraged critical debate of waste and theft in Cuba’s state bureaucracy.

* His daughter Mariela is a sexologist who has defended the rights of gays and transvestites in Communist Cuba.

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