Cuban leader Fidel Castro is facing serious health issues, U.S. State Department officials said Friday.
Assistant Secretary of State Thomas Shannon noted Castro's prolonged absence from public view following surgery last week. Shannon said the transfer of power to Fidel's brother, Raul Castro "won't work," as there is no political figure inside Cuba who "matched Fidel Castro."
The 79-year-old Cuban leader turned authority over to his 75-year-old brother last week after officials announced he would undergo surgery to repair gastro-intestinal bleeding.
It was the first time in 47 years that the elder Castro relinquished control of the communist government in Havana.
Notable deaths of 2014 [PHOTOS]