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Author: Subject: Fidel Castro resigns as Cuba's president

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  posted on 2/19/2008 at 07:52 AM
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 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.

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 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.


 
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Zen Peach



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  posted on 2/19/2008 at 07:57 AM
When do we get cigars and go bass fishing ?
Some of my best friends are a family of Cubans who made it to and made it in the US.
It will be intersting to see if they get their plantation back, Hope so.

 

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  posted on 2/19/2008 at 09:40 AM
Sounds like ol' Fidel has one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel.

Communism is a dinosaur institution. I hope the Cuban people will be truly free again one day.

 

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Universal Peach



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  posted on 2/19/2008 at 09:52 AM
One big problem when (and I think at some they will) Cuba becomes a more free nation is I don't think the Cubans who stayed in Cuba are going to "just hand over" property and other assets to the Cubans than left the country back in 1959. The integration of the two Cuban communities is going much more difficult than many imagine.
 
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Zen Peach



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  posted on 2/19/2008 at 10:19 AM

Dear Fidel,

Please send your best rum and your best cigars ASAP. We're OK on shortstops right now.

Gracias, amigo...

 

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  posted on 2/19/2008 at 10:28 AM
On one hand its a great thing to know he isnt going to be running the show over there anymore, but being the pessimist I am, I wonder what kind of 'reforms' are being talked about under his brother. Im skeptical to think that their ideology would be so different as to make much difference.

 

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  posted on 2/19/2008 at 11:03 AM
Maybe now the Cuban's can start buying Chinese made cigars.

 

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  posted on 2/19/2008 at 11:10 AM
quote:
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.

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

"It seems like just yesterday that my dad, George Senior, Senator Geary from Nevada, Fredo Corleone, and Johnny Ola were enjoying the Havana night life. Oh, the stories they used to tell. My wife and I plan on visiting one of those clubs after my term is over."


 

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  posted on 2/19/2008 at 11:55 AM
quote:
On one hand its a great thing to know he isnt going to be running the show over there anymore, but being the pessimist I am, I wonder what kind of 'reforms' are being talked about under his brother. Im skeptical to think that their ideology would be so different as to make much difference.


We can always invade them, we have a model in Iraq.

 

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  posted on 2/19/2008 at 12:07 PM
quote:
On one hand its a great thing to know he isnt going to be running the show over there anymore, but being the pessimist I am, I wonder what kind of 'reforms' are being talked about under his brother. Im skeptical to think that their ideology would be so different as to make much difference.


I agree; unfortunately, I don't foresee any significant changes.

 

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  posted on 2/19/2008 at 12:32 PM
quote:
We can always invade them, we have a model in Iraq.


No we can't as JFK promised that the United States WOULD NEVER INVADE CUBA. It was the deal he made with Khrushchev, to have the Russian missles removed from Cuba.

 
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Zen Peach



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  posted on 2/19/2008 at 01:00 PM
quote:
quote:
We can always invade them, we have a model in Iraq.


No we can't as JFK promised that the United States WOULD NEVER INVADE CUBA. It was the deal he made with Khrushchev, to have the Russian missles removed from Cuba.


So much for good ideas !

 

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  posted on 2/19/2008 at 01:12 PM
quote:
quote:
We can always invade them, we have a model in Iraq.


No we can't as JFK promised that the United States WOULD NEVER INVADE CUBA. It was the deal he made with Khrushchev, to have the Russian missles removed from Cuba.


Both of them are dead. Castro is soon to be dead. Lets lift the embargo and see what happens from there.

[Edited on 2/19/2008 by SquatchTexas]

 

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  posted on 2/19/2008 at 01:43 PM
When Cuba begins it's transformation to a "Free Democratic Society"... I'm afraid the real losers here will be the people of Florida. As power shifts and peaks, those in Cuba with little will, ...leave. And where will they go?

Once again, the topic of Immigration will raise it's ugly head and we will pay dearly.

 

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  posted on 2/19/2008 at 01:47 PM
quote:
Hooey... we have reneged on many agreements in the past with various nations. We have selectively followed treaties as well. I dont think we would invade them as it would make absolutely no sense (but then again we are talking about the Bush regime so anything is possible...), but the embargo should be lifted and see what happens from there.


Squatch,

Kennedy's promise was made before the UN Security Council.

btw, here's the agreement.

quote:
The U.S. will make a statement in the framework of the Security Council in reference to Cuba as follows: It will declare that the United States of America will respect the inviolability of Cuban borders, its sovereignty, that it take the pledge not to interfere in internal affairs, not to intrude themselves and not to permit our territory to be used as a bridgehead for the invasion of Cuba, and will restrain those who would plan to carry an aggression against Cuba, either from U.S. territory or from the territory of other countries neighboring to


Also, Bush at least sent Colin Powell to the UN to "get a resolution" allowing the U,S. to invade Iraq. Bush may be "reckless" but not so reckless that he would intentionally violate "international law".

 
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  posted on 2/19/2008 at 02:11 PM
quote:
quote:
Hooey... we have reneged on many agreements in the past with various nations. We have selectively followed treaties as well. I dont think we would invade them as it would make absolutely no sense (but then again we are talking about the Bush regime so anything is possible...), but the embargo should be lifted and see what happens from there.


Squatch,

Kennedy's promise was made before the UN Security Council.

btw, here's the agreement.

quote:
The U.S. will make a statement in the framework of the Security Council in reference to Cuba as follows: It will declare that the United States of America will respect the inviolability of Cuban borders, its sovereignty, that it take the pledge not to interfere in internal affairs, not to intrude themselves and not to permit our territory to be used as a bridgehead for the invasion of Cuba, and will restrain those who would plan to carry an aggression against Cuba, either from U.S. territory or from the territory of other countries neighboring to


Also, Bush at least sent Colin Powell to the UN to "get a resolution" allowing the U,S. to invade Iraq. Bush may be "reckless" but not so reckless that he would intentionally violate "international law".


Hey, thats not what I wrote!

 

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  posted on 2/19/2008 at 02:16 PM
quote:
Hey, thats not what I wrote!


Don't you "hate it" when someone gets to your post before you can "edit it."

 
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  posted on 2/19/2008 at 02:54 PM
quote:
quote:
Hey, thats not what I wrote!


Don't you "hate it" when someone gets to your post before you can "edit it."


Na, not really... Just thought I would take away the antagonistic portion and leave the main thought.

 

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  posted on 2/19/2008 at 03:00 PM
quote:
On one hand its a great thing to know he isnt going to be running the show over there anymore, but being the pessimist I am, I wonder what kind of 'reforms' are being talked about under his brother. Im skeptical to think that their ideology would be so different as to make much difference.





Like you give a sh*t to begin with. Afterall, Castro bashes Bush, has 'free' health care, and is besty friends with your buddy Chavez, who is trying to set up a similar regime in Venezuala with little outrage from you or Cindy, that's for sure.

As for Fidel, f*ck that piece of human communist sh*t.

The Cuban people are awesome and deserve better. When you control your own people and literally trap them and force them to stay within the borders of your island and not allow them to travel to the outside world as a family or couple, etc, then you are a piece of garbage dictator...period.

The music and culture of the Cuban people needs freedom to expand and flow. For over 30 years, the music of Cuba has graced my speakers with the 1959 album called Havana Holiday by Tito Rivera and his Cuban Orchestra Featuring Yoyo Gonzales and Jose Morales being one of my favorite albums of all time. Like I tell my good friend in Puerto Rico, if Cuba ever becomes truly democratic, they will clean Puerto Rico's clock in short order. I hope it happens, but Raul is just as much of a snake as his brother is.

F*ck Castro, f*ck Che, and f*ck Raul. Unfortunately, like Stalin, Castro will probably die in his bed and not on the end of a rope or a bullet, and that blows.


DH

 

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  posted on 2/19/2008 at 04:05 PM
quote:
Like you give a sh*t to begin with. Afterall, Castro bashes Bush, has 'free' health care, and is besty friends with your buddy Chavez, who is trying to set up a similar regime in Venezuala with little outrage from you or Cindy, that's for sure.


Why should I be upset about the Democratic government of Venezuela? You know, the same government that has free, fair and transparent elections, unlike us.

quote:
The Cuban people are awesome and deserve better.


Then why hasnt you or our governement done anything about it?

quote:
When you control your own people and literally trap them and force them to stay within the borders of your island and not allow them to travel to the outside world as a family or couple, etc, then you are a piece of garbage dictator...period.


Thats not quite the definition of dictator, but then again, you like some dictators more than others as long as they are our buddies.

The music and culture of the Cuban people needs freedom to expand and flow. For over 30 years, the music of Cuba has graced my speakers with the 1959 album called Havana Holiday by Tito Rivera and his Cuban Orchestra Featuring Yoyo Gonzales and Jose Morales being one of my favorite albums of all time. Like I tell my good friend in Puerto Rico, if Cuba ever becomes truly democratic, they will clean Puerto Rico's clock in short order. I hope it happens, but Raul is just as much of a snake as his brother is.

F*ck Castro, f*ck Che, and f*ck Raul. Unfortunately, like Stalin, Castro will probably die in his bed and not on the end of a rope or a bullet, and that blows.


DH


Meanwhile, we have bigger problems here at home...

 

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  posted on 2/19/2008 at 04:56 PM
Chavez is gonna make a play there.

 

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Zen Peach



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  posted on 2/19/2008 at 05:29 PM
quote:
Chavez is gonna make a play there.


LOL.... sure he will. Bottomline is that nothing in Cuba is going to change until we drop the embargo and let the Cuban people get a taste of what that would entail.

 

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  posted on 2/19/2008 at 06:21 PM
quote:
For over 30 years, the music of Cuba has graced my speakers with the 1959 album called Havana Holiday by Tito Rivera and his Cuban Orchestra Featuring Yoyo Gonzales and Jose Morales being one of my favorite albums of all time.



What about Ricky?

"Lucy!!!!! You have some splainin' to do..."

 

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  posted on 2/19/2008 at 06:50 PM
quote:
quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------- -----
When you control your own people and literally trap them and force them to stay within the borders of your island and not allow them to travel to the outside world as a family or couple, etc, then you are a piece of garbage dictator...period.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------- -----



Thats not quite the definition of dictator


So, a leader that forces his own people to stay within the borders of a country and doesn't allow them to leave, or controls when and who can leave, is not a dictator in your eyes??

I rest my case.

Unreal.

D

 

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  posted on 2/19/2008 at 07:01 PM
My understanding is that the US is about the only ones who don't have anything to do with Cuba. Cuba has exports and tourism is one of their major industries. The United States isn't the only country in the world. I think the embargo is stupid and thought Bush should have accepted Castro's offer of help during Katrina as a step toward opening a dialogue but it didn't happen. In the meantime, we do have bigger problems here at home to be concerned with.
 
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