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Old 02-19-2008, 10:53 AM   #1
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Castro Retires

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Fidel Castro announces retirement

Cuba's ailing leader Fidel Castro has said he will not accept another term as president, ending 49 years in power.

"I neither will aspire to, nor will I accept, the position of president of the council of state and commander in chief," he told the newspaper, Granma.

The 81-year-old handed over power temporarily to his brother, Raul, in July 2006 when he underwent surgery.

US President George W Bush said the news should mark the beginning of a transition towards democracy for Cuba.

"The international community should work with the Cuban people to begin to build institutions that are necessary for a democracy, and eventually this transition ought to lead to free and fair elections," he told reporters in Rwanda.

"And we're going to help. The United States will help the people of Cuba realise the blessings of liberty."

The European Union meanwhile said it was ready to seek ways to relaunch ties with Cuba that have been almost completely frozen under Mr Castro.

Mr Castro has ruled Cuba since leading a revolution in 1959.

In December, Mr Castro indicated that he might possibly step down in favour of younger leaders, saying "my primary duty is not to cling to any position".

Soon afterwards, Raul Castro appeared to suggest that his older brother still had an important political role to play, saying the president still had full use of his mental faculties and was being consulted on all important policy issues.

'Not saying farewell'

In the letter, published on Granma's website during the middle of the night in Cuba, Mr Castro said he would not accept another five-year term as president when the National Assembly meets on Sunday, because of the health problems.

"It would betray my conscience to take up a responsibility that requires mobility and total devotion, that I am not in a physical condition to offer," he wrote.

Mr Castro said he had declined to step down after undergoing emergency intestinal surgery in 2006 to avoid dealing a blow to his government before "the people" were ready for change "in the middle of the battle" with the US.

"To prepare the people for my absence, psychologically and politically, was my first obligation after so many years of struggle," he added.

Despite the announcement of his impending retirement, the Cuban leader insisted he was "not saying farewell".

"I just want to carry on fighting like a soldier of ideas," he added. "I will continue writing under the title, Reflections of Comrade Fidel."

"I will be one more weapon in the arsenal that you can count on. Perhaps my voice will be heard. I will be careful."

The National Assembly is widely expected to elect 76-year-old Raul Castro as his successor, although analysts say there is speculation about a possible generational jump with Vice-President Carlos Lage Davila, 56, a leading contender.

"There is also the intermediate generation which learned together with us the basics of the complex and almost unattainable art of organising and leading a revolution," Mr Castro wrote in Tuesday's letter.

If elected, Raul Castro has indicated that major economic reforms and "structural changes" could be on the way.

The Cuban ambassador to the Netherlands, Oscar de los Reyes, told the BBC that Mr Castro "embodies to a very large extent what Cuba is today" and would always remain Cuba's "elder statesman".

"Fidel will always preside over our revolution... In our minds and hearts he will always be the leader," he said.

There was very little reaction to Mr Castro's decision in Havana on Tuesday morning, and it was not until 0500 (1000 GMT) that official radio reported the news.

The BBC's Michael Voss in the capital says nobody knows whether Mr Castro's decision not to seek another five-year term has been prompted by a further decline in his health - it has been an official secret since the moment he was taken ill.

The president has not been seen in public for 19 months, although the government occasionally releases photographs and pre-edited video of him meeting visiting leaders from around the world.

Last month, Mr Castro was shown talking to his Brazilian counterpart, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who described him as being lucid and in good health.

Mixed legacy

In power since he led a communist revolution which ousted the regime of President Fulgencio Batista in 1959, Mr Castro has been a dominant force in Latin American politics and a thorn in the side of the United States.

Under his leadership, Cuba underwent an economic and social transformation.

Most foreign and local businesses were nationalised, land reform was introduced, and education and health care for the poor improved. At the same time, Mr Castro was criticised for not restoring democracy and ruling with absolute power.

His government saw off an early threat from Cuban exiles, backed by the US, who launched an abortive invasion at the Bay of Pigs in 1961.

The following year saw the Cuban missile crisis, when the US and the Soviet Union came to the brink of war over the presence of Soviet nuclear warheads in Cuba.

Mr Castro also backed a string of left-wing leaders in South America and Africa and, in 1975, sent thousands of troops to fight in Angola.

It is said that Mr Castro has been the target of many CIA-sponsored assassination plots as a result of such policies - in 1999 a Cuban interior ministry official put the figure at 637.

Washington has also imposed an economic embargo on Cuba for more than four decades, which helped cripple the Cuban economy in the 1980s after the Soviet Union withdrew financial aid and subsequently broke up.

A tourism boom along with a rapprochement with oil-rich Venezuela, run by Mr Castro's great friend, Hugo Chavez, has allowed the economy recover slowly in recent years.

Our correspondent says the news of his retirement will take some digesting by Cubans, 70% of whom have known no other leader.

Mr Castro will leave a mixed legacy, he adds, with both friend and foe recognising him as an iconic leader and major figure in the post-war era.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7252109.stm

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Old 02-19-2008, 11:16 AM   #2
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I don't think it'll make much of a difference.

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Old 02-19-2008, 11:25 AM   #3
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Hopefully the next President will be someone the US can work with--both Cuba and the US would benefit from better relations.


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Old 02-19-2008, 11:31 AM   #4
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Still too early for accurate prediction of possible outcomes.



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Old 02-19-2008, 11:54 AM   #5
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Its about time. Maybe now they can start getting people in power who are actually interested in improveing the lives of their people. And maybe someone the U.S. can conduct business with. Before Castro, we had a fairly healthy trade and toruist business going on between the two, if I recall correctly.


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Old 02-19-2008, 12:45 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2Cold Scorpio
we had a fairly healthy trade and toruist business going on between the two, if I recall correctly.
At the expense of the livelihood of a majority of it's citizens.

I've always been conflicted with Castro's rule. On one hand, he did help the people quite a lot, but on the other he was quite a douchebag politically speaking.

I don't agree with the idea of Cuban democracy, at least not in the sense that I'm certain our government wants, definitely not in the way Bush wants. I'd say a more traditional socialist movement would be rather workable with the Cuban population, but it's just a matter of really getting the problems of the people heard. Overall Castro did a damn good job making life better for the populace, but he wasn't much on the listening side. I hope the next guy in line does a little more to further improve the livelihood of the Cuban people.

Plus Afro-Cuban jazz totally needs to be government supported.


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Old 02-19-2008, 12:54 PM   #7
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What? Socialism is not a political system, it's economic. You can theoretically have a Democratic Socialist country or a Capitalist Monarchy.
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Old 02-19-2008, 12:58 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2Cold Scorpio
Its about time. Maybe now they can start getting people in power who are actually interested in improveing the lives of their people. And maybe someone the U.S. can conduct business with. Before Castro, we had a fairly healthy trade and toruist business going on between the two, if I recall correctly.
As Slitherino said it was at the expense of the citizens under President Batista. Funny thing is we mislabeled Castro in the 60's. He was actually a Nationalist list Ho CHi Minh in Vietnam. He got labeled a Commie because he went with the cheaper price of oil and that came from Russia. Of course because of that, he had to host Russias nukes there thus giving us thirteen days of terror and the beginnings of a trade embargo. Of course that was after the Bay of Pigs. After the fall of the Soviet Union, Cuba was left high and dry, virtually poor.

With Castro retiring maybe it might be the start of something better. However as history has shown, change in power can produce negative outcomes. Could be that the next president would be as bad as Batista. Bush says that it will pave the way for democracy in Cuba. It sounds premature but hey if it is a president the US can exert influence over then it would be all good right? We can screw up things like we did in South America like Chile. I don't know. My negative outlook could be the result of too much of history. It is easy to criticize in hindsight but you would think that we would at least learn something from history.

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Old 02-19-2008, 09:12 PM   #9
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I heard on WGN radio today that a lot of Cubans make $19 a month. The younger Castro has a lot to fix.


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Old 02-19-2008, 09:55 PM   #10
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Let's say for a moment that Bush is right. Cuba has a democratic government. Then the corperations that have been waiting for the lift of the embargo rush in, and make the new Cuba an economic colony of the US. I hope they get a leader who can stand up to us, but isn't a dictator. That's wishful thinking of course.

I think it is more likely that Raul Castro will continue to moderate his brother's policies until he becomes too old, and then a power struggle.


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Old 02-19-2008, 11:09 PM   #11
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^ Most likely.

Well, he has certainly been in office for quite some time. I also hope that Cuba will have a good strong leader, for the sake of their country.
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Old 02-19-2008, 11:37 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
I heard on WGN radio today that a lot of Cubans make $19 a month. The younger Castro has a lot to fix.
Ashame he likely won't live up to the challenge. Time will tell, though, I guess. Not holding my breath.


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Old 02-20-2008, 05:21 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
I heard on WGN radio today that a lot of Cubans make $19 a month. The younger Castro has a lot to fix.
It's also worth considering that they have a close to 100% literacy rate and a universally praised healthcare system...


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Old 02-20-2008, 06:26 AM   #14
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It's also worth considering that they have a close to 100% literacy rate and a universally praised healthcare system...
Try living there.
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Old 02-20-2008, 01:00 PM   #15
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Yeah, take a look at their streets. See those cars? Yeah. From the '50s, kids. It's an antique graveyard, over there. But that's not surprising - they're Socialist, which means they're in denial.
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Old 02-20-2008, 03:12 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheRonto
Let's say for a moment that Bush is right.
OK, I guess there is a first time for everything.

I agree with Darth InSidious in that it is too early to predict anything. I hope whatever happens it is something that helps the people of Cuba prosper. Id also like to see normalization of relations between Cuba and the US (and Europe for that matter). I hope for a time when Americans are free to travel to Cuba without going to Mexico first.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Corinthian
Yeah, take a look at their streets. See those cars? Yeah. From the '50s, kids. It's an antique graveyard, over there. But that's not surprising - they're Socialist, which means they're in denial.
It is an Island nation that has been living with an embargo for almost 50 years, not surprising that most of the cars are 50 years old. Even in a capitalist society under the same circumstance you would be looking at 50 year old cars.


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Old 02-20-2008, 04:45 PM   #17
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I dont see much changing under the younger Castro. It will probably be the leader that follows him that really starts to make changes. I don't think we need to rush in to bring them democracy, how they structure their government is their choice, not ours. If they choose democracy, great. But, its not up to us. I do hope for improved relations between our countrys though.
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Old 02-20-2008, 06:33 PM   #18
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Try living there.
Lmao. I wouldn't want to, but then again, I would never want to live permanently in America either.


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Old 02-21-2008, 07:16 AM   #19
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Who gives a damn if you don't have the latest cars adn the fastest lightbulbs or whathaveyou? These are entirely irrelevant to the welfare of the people of Cuba.



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Old 02-21-2008, 10:20 AM   #20
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I never said President Batista was better. Neither one has exactly broken their backs trying to help their people. Both just wanted power, plain and simple. Castro just held that power a lot longer. Maybe Raul Castro will actually be open to listening to others about how to fix their country; if your citizens are making less than $20 a month, something is wrong, particularly when they have the capability to do much better.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 1jrJedismom
I dont see much changing under the younger Castro. It will probably be the leader that follows him that really starts to make changes. I don't think we need to rush in to bring them democracy, how they structure their government is their choice, not ours. If they choose democracy, great. But, its not up to us. I do hope for improved relations between our countrys though.
You have a point...look what happened to the Russians when they tried to become a democratic captialist economy overnight. Their economy hasn't fared so well.


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