Cuban president vows to defend socialism

Havana is ready and willing to start a dialogue with Washington, Cuban President Raul Castro said in a speech to parliament Saturday, but warned that political and regime change are not up for negotiation. “They didn’t elect me president to restore capitalism in Cuba, nor to surrender the revolution,” Castro said to loud applause. “I was elected to defend, maintain and continue perfecting socialism, not to destroy it.” He added that those expecting political change after the death of former President Fidel Castro and his generation were “condemned to fail.” Castro ceded the presidency to his younger brother, Raul, last year but has retained leadership of the Communist Party, the only legal political party in Cuba.