By Matthew Cullinan Hoffman

HAVANA, November 4, 2008 ( – Fidel Castro, Cuba’s semi-retired communist dictator, has issued a statement praising Barack Obama and denouncing John McCain, while claiming to be “neutral” on the elections.

Claiming that his statements would come too late to be used in the election, Castro said that Obama is “no doubt more intelligent, educated and level-headed than his Republican rival,” while adding that “McCain is old, bellicose, uncultured, not very intelligent and not in good health.”

Predicting Obama would win, Castro added, “If my estimates should be erroneous, all kinds of racism prevail and the Republican candidate obtains the presidency, the danger of war would grow and the opportunities of the peoples to advance would be reduced. Despite everything, we must fight and raise awareness about this, no matter who wins these elections.”

Castro did not mention the deaths of more than 50 million unborn children in the United States by surgical abortion alone, a policy wholeheartedly supported by Obama.  Cuba is the only Latin American jurisdiction that has legalized abortion on demand, apart from Mexico City.

Castro expressed his hope that “when this opinion of mine is published tomorrow, nobody will have any time to say that I wrote something that could be utilized by one of the candidates for their campaign.”

“I had to be, and have been, neutral in the electoral battle,” he added.

Luis Lula, Brazil’s socialist President and friend of Castro, has also praised Obama in the days leading to the election, saying that his election would be a “subject of joy in the silent mind of each one of us.”

It would be an “extraordinary moment” in which the “left wing has power in so many countries,” he said, apparently referring to the socialist governments in Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Paraguay. “Hopefully, this will also occur in the greatest economy in the world!” he added.

Similar statements have been made in recent days by socialist presidents Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, Rafael Correa of Ecuador, and Evo Morales of Bolivia, all of whom are strong supporters of the Cuban revolution.

Read Castro’s statement in English: