[DEBATE] : Castro resigns
dm23 at queensu.ca
Tue Feb 19 14:52:53 GMT 2008
>> The big test: can the Cuban revolution turn 50 on 1 January 2009, 19 days
before W leaves the White House?
Absolutely. There is a lot more depth to the regime than the mainstream
press would have us believe, and although the younger cadre that will take
over may be more inclined to open things up to market forces it will not be
a quick or wholesale transformation. Heck, the country may even stay
8.45am GMT update
Castro resigns as Cuban president
This article was first published on guardian.co.uk
Fidel Castro today announced his retirement after 49 years as head of
state of Cuba, 49 years after he seized power in an armed revolution.
His resignation will bring to an end to one of the world's longest
reigns in power.
The 81-year-old, who handed over power to his brother, Raúl, in July
2006 after surgery, said in a letter published on the site of the
official state newspaper, Granma: "I communicate to you that I will not
aspire to or accept ... the position of president of council of state
and commander in chief."
Castro has not appeared in public for almost 19 months after being
stricken by an undisclosed illness. His retirement brings down the
curtain on a political career that spanned the cold war, CIA
assassination attempts and the demise of Soviet communism. He has
outlasted nine US presidents.
A charismatic leader famous for his long speeches delivered in his green
military fatigues, Castro is admired in the developing world for
standing up to the US but considered by his opponents as an
authoritarian who threw his critics into jail.
Castro hinted in December last year that he would stand down to make way
for a leader from the younger generation.
He appeared on national television saying: "My essential duty is not to
cling to office nor to obstruct the rise of people much younger, but to
pass on experience and ideas whose modest value arises from the
exceptional times in which I lived."
A new parliament elected in January will meet on Sunday. They will in
turn elect a new president in March, just as the US is going through the
process of choosing its own presidential candidates.
Castro's brother is expected to be nominated by the national assembly as
president. However, it has always been felt that his role would be
temporary and that a younger person would take over in the long term.
One of the current favourites for the position is Carlos Lage, the
56-year old vice-president.
Lage, a paediatrician by profession, has risen to prominence in recent
months after overseeing economic changes in Cuba, including negotiations
over oil from Venezuela whose president, Hugo Chávez, is Castro's
strongest international supporter.
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