Advertisement

Archive for Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Fidel Castro resigns Cuban presidency after nearly half-century in power

February 19, 2008, 10:30 a.m. Updated February 19, 2008, 12:07 p.m.

Advertisement

Cuba's President Fidel Castro, left, votes in favor to the modification on the Cuban Constitution, as his brother, Defense Minister Raul Castro, looks at him during an extraordinary National Assembly session in Havana, in this June 26, 2002 file photo. Ailing leader Fidel Castro resigned as Cuba's president early Tuesday Feb. 19, 2008, after nearly a half-century in power, saying he will not accept a new term when the newly elected parliament meets on Sunday.

Cuba's President Fidel Castro, left, votes in favor to the modification on the Cuban Constitution, as his brother, Defense Minister Raul Castro, looks at him during an extraordinary National Assembly session in Havana, in this June 26, 2002 file photo. Ailing leader Fidel Castro resigned as Cuba's president early Tuesday Feb. 19, 2008, after nearly a half-century in power, saying he will not accept a new term when the newly elected parliament meets on Sunday.

— An ailing, 81-year-old Fidel Castro resigned as Cuba's president Tuesday after nearly a half-century in power, saying he will not accept a new term when parliament meets Sunday.

The end of Castro's rule - the longest in the world for a head of government - frees his 76-year-old brother Raul to implement reforms he has hinted at since taking over as acting president when Fidel Castro fell ill in July 2006. President Bush said he hopes the resignation signals the beginning of a democratic transition.

"My wishes have always been to discharge my duties to my last breath," Castro wrote in a letter published Tuesday in the online edition of the Communist Party daily Granma. But, he wrote, "it would be a betrayal to my conscience to accept a responsibility requiring more mobility and dedication than I am physically able to offer."

In the pre-dawn hours, most Cubans were unaware of Castro's message, and Havana's streets were quiet. It wasn't until 5 a.m., several hours after Castro's message was posted on the internet, that official radio began reading the missive to early risers.

By sunrise, most people headed to work in Havana seemed to have heard the news, which they appeared to accept without obvious signs of emotion. There were no tears or smiles as Cubans went about their usual business.

"He will continue to be my commander in chief, he will continue to be my president," said Miriam, a 50-year-old boat worker waiting for the bus to Havana port. "But I'm not sad because he isn't leaving, and after 49 years he is finally resting a bit."

Castro temporarily ceded his powers to his brother on July 31, 2006, when he announced that he had undergone intestinal surgery. Since then, the elder Castro has not been seen in public, appearing only sporadically in official photographs and videotapes and publishing dense essays about mostly international themes as his younger brother has consolidated his rule.

There had been widespread speculation about whether Castro would continue as president when the new National Assembly meets Sunday to pick the country's top leadership. Castro has been Cuba's unchallenged leader since 1959 - monarchs excepted, he was the world's longest ruling head of state.

Castro said Cuban officials had wanted him to remain in power after his surgery.

"It was an uncomfortable situation for me vis-a-vis an adversary that had done everything possible to get rid of me, and I felt reluctant to comply," he said in a reference to the United States.

Castro remains a member of parliament and is likely to be elected to the 31-member Council of State on Sunday, though he will no longer be its president. Raul Castro's wife, Vilma Espin, maintained her council seat until her death last year even though she was too sick to attend meetings for many months.

Castro also retains his powerful post as first secretary of Cuba's Communist Party. The party leadership posts generally are renewed at party congresses, and the last one was held in 1997.

The resignation opens the path for Raul Castro's succession to the presidency, and the full autonomy he has lacked in leading a caretaker government. The younger Castro has raised expectations among Cubans for modest economic and other reforms, stating last year that the country requires unspecified "structural changes" and acknowledging that government wages that average about $19 a month do not satisfy basic needs.

As first vice president of Cuba's Council of State, Raul Castro was his brother's constitutionally designated successor and appears to be a shoo-in for the presidential post when the council meets Sunday. More uncertain is who will be chosen as Raul's new successor, although 56-year-old council Vice President Carlos Lage, who is Cuba's de facto prime minister, is a strong possibility.

"Raul is also old," allowed Isabel, a 61-year-old Havana street sweeper, who listened to Castro's message being read on state radio with other fellow workers. "As a Cuban, I am thinking that Carlos Lage, or (Foreign Minister) Felipe Perez Roque, or another younger person with new eyes" could follow the younger Castro brother, she added.

Bush, traveling in Rwanda, pledged to "help the people of Cuba realize the blessings of liberty."

"The international community should work with the Cuban people to begin to build institutions that are necessary for democracy," he said. "Eventually, this transition ought to lead to free and fair elections - and I mean free, and I mean fair - not these kind of staged elections that the Castro brothers try to foist off as true democracy."

The United States built a detailed plan in 2005 for American assistance to ensure a democratic transition on the island of 11.2 million people after Castro's death. But Cuban officials have insisted that the island's socialist political and economic systems will outlive Castro.

"The adversary to be defeated is extremely strong," Castro wrote Tuesday. "However, we have been able to keep it at bay for half a century."

Castro rose to power on New Year's Day 1959 and reshaped Cuba into a communist state 90 miles from U.S. shores. The fiery guerrilla leader survived assassination attempts, a CIA-backed invasion and a missile crisis that brought the world to the brink of nuclear war. Ten U.S. administrations tried to topple him, most famously in the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion of 1961.

His ironclad rule ensured Cuba remained communist long after the breakup of the Soviet Union and the collapse of communism across Eastern Europe.

Castro's supporters admired his ability to provide a high level of health care and education for citizens while remaining fully independent of the United States. His detractors called him a dictator whose totalitarian government systematically denied individual freedoms and civil liberties such as speech, movement and assembly.

The United States was the first country to recognize Castro's government, but the countries soon clashed as Castro seized American property and invited Soviet aid.

On April 16, 1961, Castro declared his revolution to be socialist. A day later, he defeated the CIA-backed Bay of Pigs invasion. The United States squeezed Cuba's economy and the CIA plotted to kill Castro. Hostility reached its peak with the 1962 Cuban missile crisis.

The collapse of the Soviet Union sent Cuba into economic crisis, but the economy recovered in the late 1990s with a tourism boom.

Comments

stevevanjames 6 years, 2 months ago

and while he may have started out as a decent human with positive hopes and goals, che turned into a terrible individual... i can't respect that man, though i admit someone gave me a che shirt a while ago which happens to lurk in the deep dark reaches of my closet...

0

stevevanjames 6 years, 2 months ago

i apologize for not clarifying my statement.... by "beauty" i was coming more from a cultural perspective, rather than literal beauty (nothing could change that beauty). Cuba is unique in many ways due to its history and culture. i'm not supporting communism and i realize that communism has drastically failed as a whole. i don't favor Cuba over the U.S. nor the U.S. over Cuba. they both have their positives and negatives and it's not my place to judge one over the other without personally experiencing both. i simply respect Cuba as something different, something beautiful. by "independence" i was referring to its self sufficient lifestyle after the U.S.S.R. fell and it's ability to survive these many years despite the constant pressures from the surrounding world. if Cuba pushes towards democracy, that's fine with me... it would "destroy" their current state, but there's the possibility that something even better could take its place... or it could turn into the next Cancun. who knows? maybe the country needs change, maybe it dosn't. whatever happens, happens...

0

Marion Lynn 6 years, 2 months ago

Well, there, Steevanjames; whatever did you mean, then?

0

stevevanjames 6 years, 2 months ago

you completly warped my statement, marion... which was expected...

0

posessionannex 6 years, 2 months ago

Oh, but Marion, the "it would destroy much of the beauty and independance (sic) of the nation!"

0

Marion Lynn 6 years, 2 months ago

Revolucion Part Ducks:

Although I dislike wishing death on anyone, the best things that could happen to Cuba would be for Fidel to quit screwing around and shuffle off hi mortal coil, followed closely by Itchy Brother Raul, either by natural causes or shot while trying to escape!

Cuba is still a bananna republic, led by vicious murders, torturers and communists; the last real bastion of that failed system and as such places have long and treasured histories of electing new governments at gunpoint, Cuba will carry on the tradition, I'm sure.

The demise of these two criminals will leave a power vacuum and with the prosperity for Cuba residing only 90 miles away, the new government will waste no time in eliminating the legacy of the communists.

The sooner the better for all concerned.

0

posessionannex 6 years, 2 months ago

The CNN talking points for 'Ol Fidel (excerpt):

  • Please note Fidel did bring social reforms to Cuba namely free education and universal health care, and racial integration. in addition to being criticized for oppressing human rights and freedom of speech.

  • While despised by some, he is seen as a revolutionary hero, especially with leftist in Latin America, for standing up to the United States.

Any questions, please call the international desk.


I remember hearing the hero bit and thinking, "my that's a strange way to put it."

Turns out the desk may have been coached.

http://www.babalublog.com/archives/007467.html

0

Tom Shewmon 6 years, 2 months ago

Goodness sakes! Unlike you far-out cats, I have things to do and can not sit here day after day, all day long and post about the pressing issues of the day. I'm not LuLu. I think 6000 plus post is too much in 18-19 months and I must try to lose the 'troll' image I seem to have acquired.

I realize my presence is nearly essential on this award-winning forum...I'll try to make myself, *right_thinker* , more available.

0

The_Original_Bob 6 years, 2 months ago

RT/Lulu crack me up. They are either the same person or a married couple.

0

Christine Pennewell Davis 6 years, 2 months ago

I think a wait approach is needed in this situation, Just because fidel is stepping down means nothing things could get much worse Raul might be a bad thing. Not to mention that some might see the leadership as weakened and try a coup so yeah this is a wait and see.

0

Mr_Values 6 years, 2 months ago

right_thinker (Anonymous) says:

You can go to Cuba, treat a young Latino beauty to a night on the town, for relatively little dollars, and get your socks f* off like you've never had before, take her home and be done with it:: so I guess Cuba has it's upside. No American female chauvinists to have to go to war with for a little cooch.

RT, Don't spend dollars, you are violating the embargo. You are supposed to use Euros for your eros. Cuba quarantines their HIV/AIDS infected citizens. Makes for a clean vacation. If that is what you're in to.

I too wish to extend my condolences to the lefty loosy crowd for the loss of their Che Guevera like revolutionary socialist hero.

0

jonas 6 years, 2 months ago

See?! See?! It happened again!!!

Right-thinker: are you sleeping? Have you. . . slept?

0

Marion Lynn 6 years, 2 months ago

oops...typo...should read "is going to "destroy much of the beauty...."

0

Marion Lynn 6 years, 2 months ago

stevevanjames:

Now do tell us, Dear Boy, just how the infusion of freedom into that tropical isle is going to "much of the beauty", much less the "independence" of the place!

Also, if you would, please explain to the Gentle Readers just how independent Cuba was in its relations with the old USSR, Red China and Albania.

Are you so half-witted that you believe that "beauty" can only be achieved and maintained in a communist dictatorship?

oh

stop feeling and try thinking

i'll bet that you wear a Che t-shirt

0

Lulu 6 years, 2 months ago

Now jonas and right_thinker, I know sometime it is fun to fight. But you cannot do it. Because, it is in the law not to fight. It is barbaric. Do not fight over me, just one womyn living in a man's world trying to teach the youth of tomorrow. I am not worth a torn blouse. I am flattered to say at least.

If we lived in a free world, I could visit Cuba.

0

stevevanjames 6 years, 2 months ago

my father has been to Cuba a few times (legally) and he claims it's pretty swell and that people are generally happy... while i belive democracy would be a positive step in many ways, i also feel that it would destroy much of the beauty and independance of the nation...

0

Marion Lynn 6 years, 2 months ago

Jonas, now cut it out.............you know the First Rule Of Fight Club!

0

The_Original_Bob 6 years, 2 months ago

Oh, goodness. He really is one of Marion's Minions.

0

Tom Shewmon 6 years, 2 months ago

Jonas, I think you mean 'dual'....unless you want to meet me on Mass Street with each having six-shooters strapped on?

You're right, I'm stark fcking raving bat sht crazy......at least you know it now. What else would you expect from a right-wing extremist? Hope you never run into me and disclose who you are.

0

jonas 6 years, 2 months ago

Haven't you ever read or seen Fight-Club?

0

jonas 6 years, 2 months ago

What? Strawman conspiracy? No, I'm just saying that you're potentially insane, and have a duel personality manifestation that you are probably totally unaware of. This is all, of course, just theory.

0

Tom Shewmon 6 years, 2 months ago

jonas, you're proposing an elaborate strawman sort of thing then---calculated and staged on a forum? Are you a conspiracy theorist? You've never come across as that looney----like the other valued LJW neighbors whom I hold close to my heart.

0

JLoh21 6 years, 2 months ago

Fidel is a Saint. Don't believe me? Then ask the fat %^&$&#* michael moore.

0

jonas 6 years, 2 months ago

Oh, you misunderstand, Right-thinker. I don't actually think that you would be Aware of it, were it to even be the case. My premise is more of a Fight Club Tyler Durden duel-personality thing, caused by the unsupportable weight of the self-contradictory dogma that you carry around on your shoulders so bravely.

I have a similar theory about max1 and ferdinand-arminius-groenhagen. So much similarity.

0

Tom Shewmon 6 years, 2 months ago

Stop wondering jonas....had things to do.

Moo and Dorothy, I just love a woman who loves, not hates. You two sexy gals would need 12 hours of bedrest if you were lucky enough to get a go around with me. ;-()

0

Pilgrim 6 years, 2 months ago

Now if mini-me Chavez will just follow suit...

0

jonas 6 years, 2 months ago

Hmmmm. . . . Right-thinker's posts dry up around 2:14. . . . . . and then we have a Lulu sighting at 3:15. . . . . . .

. . . . . . I wonder. . . . . .

0

kneejerkreaction 6 years, 2 months ago

Wow, perhaps soon we can buy over-priced & underaged Cuban cigars too!!!

But, they'll be from Cuba!!

0

jayhawklawrence 6 years, 2 months ago

The good thing about death is that bad people eventually die.

You have to seriously rethink our policy toward Cuba which has contributed as much as anything to their poverty.

If we can do business with Vietnam and China and Russia, we can do business with Cuba.

Might be tough for some of our politicos to accept a change in course.

0

moo 6 years, 2 months ago

Oh believe me, dorothyhr, I agree wholeheartedly. We feminists would never get that desperate.

0

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 6 years, 2 months ago

Moo, Well we feminist enjoy sex with real men. Not the wham bang thank you ma'm types, like rt. The ones who can hold up a conversation afterwards.

A person who I studied with in Costa Rica went to Cuba for the weekend (no, it wasn't me; my small budget didn't even allow many trips to the beach). She came back with pictures and I commented how clean the streets were; did they have street cleaners or did they not litter? She said that since they were so poor there wasn't any trash to throw away.

0

The_Original_Bob 6 years, 2 months ago

Wow. R_T's little post sounds like the Marion-in-training commenter he is becoming.

0

The_Original_Bob 6 years, 2 months ago

Holy Clambakes! We have Lulu sighting!!!

0

moo 6 years, 2 months ago

Wow, classy RT. By female chauvinists, do you mean feminists? Because I would hazard a guess (based on a good deal of experience, both first and second hand) that at least as large a percentage of professed feminists enjoy sex as does anyone else (maybe more). Oh, and I at least believe prostitution should be legal. They are our bodies, and we should be able to use them as we please.

0

Lulu 6 years, 2 months ago

This is one of the sadist days in memory. He is a hero like Che Che Guevara to the peoples. Capitalism must be transcended.

0

The_Original_Bob 6 years, 2 months ago

I'm bypassing a federal law as we speak.

0

jonas 6 years, 2 months ago

"madmike (Anonymous) says:

Sounds like we have a couple of residents that have been by-passing the federal laws prohibiting travel to this communist country."

My goodness, I'm sure there would never be anyone on this board that at some point has bypassed federal laws prohibiting something!! Perish the very thought of it!

0

Dollypawpaw 6 years, 2 months ago

Maybe the Mafia will be courted to open some casinos.

0

Tom Shewmon 6 years, 2 months ago

You can go to Cuba, treat a young Latino beauty to a night on the town, for relatively little dollars, and get your socks f* off like you've never had before, take her home and be done with it...... so I guess Cuba has it's upside. No American female chauvinists to have to go to war with for a little cooch.

0

jonas 6 years, 2 months ago

Bang

I luuuuuvvvvvv doing that!!

0

Norma Jeane Baker 6 years, 2 months ago

That may be the case, madmike. Maybe. Maybe not.

0

Marion Lynn 6 years, 2 months ago

dorothyr:

Most of the American cars in Cuba have by now been so heavily modified that underneath, they bear little resemblance to what they once were.

Most have been fitted with oddball engines and transmissions from combloc cars and trucks although they may end up being their own niche in the collector world.

There are several private collections which are known to have survived, essentially locked up since the early sixties which may prove to be gold mines.

0

madmike 6 years, 2 months ago

Sounds like we have a couple of residents that have been by-passing the federal laws prohibiting travel to this communist country. But, considering the postings I have seen from them, maybe they are really DGI moles from the Castro regime themselves!

0

posessionannex 6 years, 2 months ago

Haiku and Informed,

You'd rather those people live in abject poverty? I find people complaining about Cabo all the time. When I first went there, people lived (quite literally) in cardboard houses just west of the Finisterra. Now they live in houses, and the number of people who drive cars and have cell phones is greater by some incomprehensible order of magnitude. Sorry the occasional Burger King offends you, but the people are so much better off in 30 years its mind boggling.

0

moo 6 years, 2 months ago

I'm worried about that too. It would be sad for Cuba to become Jamaica: a resort island where no native inhabitants ever see the ocean unless they work in tourism. The tourist industry is at once such a blessing and a huge bane to the Caribbean Islands.

0

jumpin_catfish 6 years, 2 months ago

Good bye castro and che. may they both soon be forgotten!

0

Jcjayhawk1 6 years, 2 months ago

Dominican cigars are better anyway.

0

Norma Jeane Baker 6 years, 2 months ago

Those have been my thoughts as well, Haiku. I don't want the Americans to 'ruin it', but for years I have thought the trade embargo was ridiculous. Even more so since China, with all of its human rights' violations, is granted 'Most Favored Nation' status. Um, I mean, Normal Trade Relations status.

My advice would be for anyone who has been thinking about it, make a visit to Cuba now, before it's too late.

0

Haiku_Cuckoo 6 years, 2 months ago

I hope the embargo never gets lifted. I've been to Cuba a couple times and I like it the way it is. If you lift the embargo, the place will soon turn into an American tourist hot spot with drunken spring breakers, McDonald's, WalMart, and middle aged white slobs wearing t-shirts that say "Jimmy Buffett is God." Cancun was a pleasant fishing village a few decades ago. Now it's a dump.

0

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 6 years, 2 months ago

If we would now get rid of the embargo, despite his brother, then we can bring some free trade to Cuba, then the democracy might follow.

I'll bet some of the car collectors will be drooling. Unless the hurricanes got them, there is suppose to be a lot of antique cars there. They kept them running, because they couldn't get more. Some poor cab driver who owns his own car could be in for a fortune.

0

Norma Jeane Baker 6 years, 2 months ago

Flor de Caña is great. I've bought it several times while in CA.

¡Viva la Cohiba!

0

Tom Shewmon 6 years, 2 months ago

My condolences to the Democratic Socialists on this forum.

0

posessionannex 6 years, 2 months ago

Until the Havana Club rum hits our shores, Lawrence has finally got a liquor store with Flor de Cana from Nicaragua! Same Marxist flavor, without the embargoed aftertaste. Seriously, it's the closest thing I've found to Cuban Rum. Must be the soil and slave labor. The store is in North Lawrence in an abandoned gas station.

0

posessionannex 6 years, 2 months ago

Here come the Bacardi and Cohiba lawsuits...

0

blue73harley 6 years, 2 months ago

I wish I could go to Miami for the party.

0

Norma Jeane Baker 6 years, 2 months ago

I agree, justthefacts. But, good cigars and good vacations are two huge pluses for Cuba right now!

0

cato_the_elder 6 years, 2 months ago

The personification of tyranny. Perhaps one day freedom will return to what was once a beautiful island.

0

justthefacts 6 years, 2 months ago

I hope that Cuba does open up a bit more. There are more reasons then just getting good cigars (or vacations)!

0

Marion Lynn 6 years, 2 months ago

Too bad that mob didn't get him years ago.

Raul will do favours for noone but Raul and now we have to wait for him to croak before there will be any benefit to Cuba.

Cuba, Si!

Castro, Nyet!

0

Norma Jeane Baker 6 years, 2 months ago

I bring mine in from Central America.

0

oldvet 6 years, 2 months ago

Maybe now we can re-open trade with Cuba and I won't have to bring my cigars in from Europe trips...

0

Commenting has been disabled for this item.