Castro rails against 'new rich' who steal from state

Fidel Castro railed against workers he said have become the "new rich" by stealing gasoline and other goods and launched a new anti-corruption campaign in a far-ranging speech that stretched into the early hours of Friday.

"How many ways there are to steal in this country!" Castro exclaimed in an extemporaneous 5Ѕ-hour address. The Cuban president also dismissed reports that he suffers from Parkinson's disease, stretching out a steady arm as proof. "Look at the Parkinson's!" he exclaimed sarcastically.

Cuban doctors who work in international teams traveling worldwide to assist disaster victims "earn 5 or 20 percent of the thieves who sell gasoline to the new rich," said Castro. "We have to vanquish these deviations ... or we die."

The Cuban president's declarations come as his communist government further squeezes the already tiny private sector, increasing controls over farmers markets, private restaurants and a dwindling number of self-employed trades people and artisans.

&to=' target=_blank>Castro, who turns 80 next August, also scoffed at reports that some U.S. officials believe he suffers from Parkinson's disease, a nonfatal but debilitating degenerative ailment. Now almost 47 years in power, Castro said he feels "better than ever" and would ask the ruling Communist Party to replace him if he felt too ill to govern.