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FIDEL CASTRO RESIGNS


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Bianca
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« on: February 19, 2008, 06:53:32 am »









                                                 Fidel Castro resigns as Cuba's president





By ANITA SNOW,
Associated Press Writer

HAVANA - 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. Havana's streets were quiet, and
there was no movement at several party-run neighborhood watch groups in Old Havana. 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.

Castro temporarily ceded his powers to his brother on July 31, 2006, when he announced that he had under-
gone 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.

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 (euro13) 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.

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 totali-
tarian 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.
« Last Edit: February 19, 2008, 06:59:09 am by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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Bianca
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« Reply #1 on: February 19, 2008, 07:06:56 am »









                                           Will Castro's Resignation Change Cuba?





By LISA ABEND/MADRID
Time.com
Tue Feb 19, 2008
 
"My desire was always to fulfill my responsibility until my last breath." With that, Fidel Castro
suggested that he had wanted to hang on to power until the very end. But the central message
of the letter published early Tuesday morning on the website of Granma, Cuba's official news-
paper, was that poor health was forcing him formally to relinquish power. "To my close compa-
triots ... I say that I will not aspire to nor accept - I repeat, I will not aspire to nor accept -
the office of President of the Council of State or Commander in Chief," he wrote. His resignation, coming just days before Cuba's National Assembly is to vote for a new leader, brings an end to
nearly fifty years of rule.
 
"If he had presented himself for re-election, there is no doubt he would have won," says Carlos Malamud, head Latin American researcher at the Royal Elcano Institute, a Madrid think-tank.
"The fact that he didn't means, first, that his health is very bad, and second, that he needs to reinforce the legitimacy of his brother."


But does the resignation mean real change? After falling seriously ill with gastrointestinal disease
nearly 19 months ago, Fidel, 81, temporarily handed power to his 76-year-old brother RaÚl, who
is now widely expected to be named President of the Council of State when the National Assembly votes on February 24. With his close ties to the Cuban military, RaÚl has thus far proved a stable
ruler; little detectable reform has occurred under his watch. That consistency owes at least a
partial debt to the control that Fidel has continued to exercise, even from his sickbed.


"RaÚl has proposed changes, but nothing's been done. Fidel is always there, monitoring him,
tutoring him," says LuÍs Manuel GarcÍa, editor of Encuentros, a Madrid-based magazine focused
on Cuban affairs. "He's acted as a counterweight to his brother." Malamud expects that even
now, that role will not change. "Fidel will continue to be the guardian of orthodoxy. He'll continue
to block any change."


Although experts like GarcÍa see RaÚl as more naturally open, a lot will hang, then, on how long
Fidel survives. "On his own, I think he would want to make some timid economic reforms, some
timid steps toward openness," says GarcÍa. "RaÚl has a greater awareness that there's paralysis
in Cuban society today, a dangerous sense of immobility."


But at least one person who knows the two brothers personally doubts that, even with Fidel gone,
RaÚl will initiate change. IdÁmis MenÉndez, Fidel's former daughter-in-law who has lived in Barcelona since 2001 and is no longer permitted to return to Cuba, says, " RaÚl thinks very differently than
Fidel. But he's lived his whole life in his brother's shadow, and the ministers and everyone else in
the government are still the same. RaÚl's not going to do anything now that would jeopardize his
own interests."



View this article on www.Time.com




Related articles on Time.com:

Fidel's Brother: The Raul I Know
Fidel Isn't Dead, But Long Live Raul
Punchlines
Oh, When the Lefty Saints Go Marching In
Keeping Up the Hard Line on Cuba
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4th Horseman of the Apocalypse
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« Reply #2 on: February 19, 2008, 08:10:55 am »

I'm betting the mob and the government can't wait for Castro to die, they have been itching to get their casinos back since 1959.  In time, after the Castros are gone, it will be the new tourist spot for rich Amercians in the Caribbean, a place, unlike the U.S., where they could get away with murder. More jobs will go there, too.
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The Lamb of God, or Lion of Judah, opens the first four of the seven seals, which summons forth four beings that ride out on white, red, black, and pale horses:  Conquest, War, Famine, and Death.
Bianca
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« Reply #3 on: February 19, 2008, 09:14:17 am »






.......don't forget the offshore  O  I   L
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Bianca
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« Reply #4 on: February 19, 2008, 11:07:14 am »









                                          Miami quiet following Castro resignation





By ADRIAN SAINZ,
Associated Press Writer

MIAMI - Cuban exiles in Little Havana welcomed Tuesday's news that Cuban President Fidel Castro had officially resigned power, but most in the heart of the Cuban exile community weren't optimistic the move would bring major changes or democracy to the communist nation
 
As news of the resignation spread, motorists honked vigorously at police patrol cars and television reporters. Shouts of "Free Cuba!" echoed in the streets, and small groups gathered to chat in local eateries. But there was no widespread celebration, just caution.

"I hope this is the beginning of the end of the system, but we have to wait," said 35-year-old chemist Omar Fernandez, who left Cuba for the U.S. six years ago.

Repeated rumors of Castro's death over the years helped prepare residents and officials for a day that all knew would eventually come. The community's reactions so far were calm, peaceful and not as boisterous as when thousands took to the streets after Castro temporarily handed power to his brother Raul in July 2006.

Most exiles view Castro as a ruthless dictator who forced them, their parents or grandparents from their home after he seized power in a revolution in 1959. Police said they were "keeping a sharp eye" on Little Havana, but residents weren't gathering in large numbers to celebrate. Nothing indicated a need for increased patrols off Florida or that a mass migration was imminent, said Coast Guard spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Chris O'Neil.

Ulises Colina, a 65-year-old electrical technician, said he was not certain if the resignation would bring any change. "I think it was a foregone conclusion that his political career would be over soon," Colina said.

Colina theorized that any change in Cuba would have to come from within the military.

"Changes? Well, he's the leader of the gang but he has a bunch of auxiliary gang members who don't want to see change," Colina said.

At a popular Cuban restaurant farther from Little Havana, the sentiments were similar.

"Even though this is great news for Cubans and for me personally, but I don't think anything is going to change," said Jose Miranda, 46. "Last time I was here was when the news said that he was really sick and we thought that he was dead. And look what has happened. Nothing."

A U.S. senator whose parents were Cuban, Robert Menendez, echoed Miranda's comments.

"This Castro is the same as the other in terms of philosophy, having been part of a dictatorship," said Menendez, D-N.J.

"To just embrace Raul would be a huge mistake. All we'd be doing is embracing another dictator," Menendez added.

About 1.5 million Cubans and Cuban-Americans live in the U.S., two-thirds of them in Florida, and the majority in Miami-Dade County, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The community with the second-largest Cuban population after Miami is Union City, N.J., where Menendez was formerly mayor.

Since they began arriving, the Miami area has become a mostly Hispanic, bustling city that is a hub for international trade and finance, but also deals with poverty. What was once a city marked by Southern drawls in English transformed into a place where Spanish is spoken everywhere.

The first wave of Cubans who fled the island immediately after Castro took power, often sending their children ahead of them on so-called "Peter Pan" flights, generally support the most hardline U.S. policies toward the island. With waning family ties to the island, they are among the most vocal backers of the U.S. embargo.

The views of the successive waves of Cuban immigrants are more complicated. Those who came over since 1980 are more likely to have grown up under the Castro government and still have family on the island. They chafe under the Bush administration's 2004 restrictions, which limit the money that can be sent home as well restrict island visits to once every three years for immediate relatives only.

Cuba experts in the U.S. didn't expect any immediate changes, or for Castro to completely disappear from view.

"For Cuban-Americans it doesn't mean a whole big deal. It's the continuation with a different face," said Andy Gomez of the University of Miami's Institute for Cuban and Cuban American Studies.

Joe Garcia, former executive director of the Cuban American National Foundation and now a Democratic candidate for Congress, cautioned that it was unlikely there would be any immediate political openings in Cuba.

"Today Castro announces the end of the revolution. That doesn't mean it's all over, but that means it allows people to finally begin to move beyond," he said.

___

Associated Press writers Matt Sedensky and Laura Wides-Munoz in Miami and Janet Frankston Lorin in Union City, N.J., contributed to this report.
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Bethany Beightol
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« Reply #5 on: February 19, 2008, 11:16:39 am »

America caters way too much to the Cuban population in Miami. We should have normalized relations with Cuba years ago. For crying out loud, we even talk with Vietnam, North Korea, Russia, China and made friends with Germany and Japan after WWII.  This little island has to be singled out as our main enemy?

If you can forgive Vietnam and Korea, where we lost over 50,000 dead apiece, you can forgive anyone.

To heck with what the Cubans in Miami want, they have voted Republican since the Bay of Pigs anyway.
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