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Posted February 19, 2008 by publisher in Castro's Cuba

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By Anthony Boadle | Reuters

Ailing Cuban leader Fidel Castro has said that he will not return to lead the country as president or commander-in-chief, retiring as head of state 49 years after he seized power in an armed revolution.

Castro, 81, who has not appeared in public for almost 19 months after undergoing stomach surgery, said in a message to the communist nation that he would not seek a new presidential term when the National Assembly meets on February 24.

“To my dear compatriots, who gave me the immense honour in recent days of electing me a member of parliament ... I communicate to you that I will not aspire to or accept—I repeat not aspire to or accept—the positions of President of Council of State and Commander in Chief,” Castro said in the statement published on the website of the Communist Party’s Granma newspaper.

The National Assembly or legislature is expected to nominate his brother and designated successor Raul Castro, 76, as president. Raul Castro has been running the country since emergency surgery to stop intestinal bleeding forced Castro to delegate power on July 31, 2006.

Cubans on the empty streets of Havana were not surprised by his retirement.

“Everyone knew for a while that he would not come back. The people got used to his absence,” said Roberto, a self-employed Cuban who did not want to be fully named.

“I don’t know what to say. I just want to leave. This system cannot continue,” said Alexis, a garbage collector.

In a deserted Revolution Square, site of many hours-long speeches by Castro to massive crowds, a lone soldier stood guard at government headquarters and the city was calm.

The title of “Comandante en Jefe” or commander-in-chief, was created for Castro in 1958 as overall leader of the guerrilla forces that swept down from the mountains of eastern Cuba to overthrow U.S.-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista.

His retirement draws the curtain on a political career that spanned the Cold War and survived U.S. enmity, assassination plots by the CIA and the demise of Soviet bloc communism.

A charismatic leader famous for his long speeches delivered in his green military fatigues, Castro is admired in the Third World for standing up to the United States but considered by his opponents a tyrant who suppressed freedom.

“It’s incredible that 50 years of dictatorship can be accepted by Cubans and will continue to be accepted,” said Ninoska Perez of the anti-Castro Miami-based exile organization, the Cuban Liberty Council.

Perez said Castro’s retirement did not mean anything would change in Cuba and the news was unlikely to bring cheer to Cuban exiles waiting for an end to communism in their homeland and an opportunity to return.

“The real celebration will be when he (Castro) can no longer write about it,” she said.

Castro’s illness and departure from Cuba’s helm have raised doubts about the future of the one-party state.

“Fortunately, our Revolution can still count on cadres from the old guard and others who were very young in the early stages of the process,” Castro said in his statement.

“They have the authority and the experience to guarantee the replacement,” he said.

US President George W. Bush, in Rwanda while on a trip to Africa, had no immediate comment on Castro’s plans to step down, White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said.

Johndroe said “the president was informed” about the developments with Castro and that he would receive a briefing later. Washington has maintained a more than four-decades long economic embargo against Cuba to try to isolate Castro.

Castro has been seen only in pictures and video film since he handed over power provisionally to his brother, looking gaunt and frail. His health improved enough a year ago to allow him to reestablish a public presence by writing reams of articles published by Cuba’s state press.

“This is not my farewell to you. My only wish is to fight as a soldier in the battle of ideas. I shall continue to write under the heading of ‘Reflections by comrade Fidel.’ It will be just another weapon you can count on. Perhaps my voice will be heard. I shall be careful,” Castro said in Tuesday’s message.

Castro could remain politically influential as first secretary of the ruling Communist Party and elder statesman.

Raul Castro, Cuba’s long-standing defence minister, has run raised expectations of economic reforms to improve the daily lot of Cubans since standing in for his brother, but he has yet to deliver.

“It was logical for Fidel to quit because he has been saying that he is not well,” said a musician leaving a cabaret. “But nothing will change until the government makes economic reforms that Cuba needs,” he said.

READ THE OFFICIAL NEWS AT GRANMA

  1. Follow up post #1 added on February 19, 2008 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Email received from http://www.observers.france24.com :

    On hearing the news we immediately called our Observer in Havana, blogger Yoani Sanchez, to get her reaction. Not yet broadcast on Cuban TV or radio, she was unaware of the declaration and gave an initial reaction of “a sense of relief”. She said she believes that the Cuban system could now evolve into something similar to the Chinese regime.

    Read the entire article here.



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  2. Follow up post #2 added on February 19, 2008 by alkarajo.com with 13 total posts

    more of the same - mas de lo mismo.

    El “cadaver” en jefe must die!


  3. Follow up post #3 added on February 19, 2008 by siwaller with 7 total posts

    Well done Commandante Fidel Castro.. enjoy a well deserved rest.

    And Cuba will continue to go from strength to strength…


  4. Follow up post #4 added on February 19, 2008 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Interesting that the first couple comments are so different. I’m guessing siwaller is working from Cuba putting the positive spin on the news… but that’s okay. All are welcome here.



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  5. Follow up post #5 added on February 19, 2008 by MiamiCuban

    Let’s see what new excuse Washington will come up with now.  At this point, the continuation of the Cuban embargo should be seen as a direct assault on the Cuban people.  It was always an act of aggression on the populace, but now the exile hardliners and their crony friends in Washington can’t hide behind the age-old story that it’s meant to get rid of Fidel.


  6. Follow up post #6 added on February 19, 2008 by Yeyo with 411 total posts

    This is a great oportunity for the US and Cuban goverment to try some sort of agreement.


  7. Follow up post #7 added on February 19, 2008 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Even more so if Lage comes in as President.



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  8. Follow up post #8 added on February 19, 2008 by MiamiCuban

    I totally agree…today’s events offer an opportunity to bury the muddied past.  But as a gesture of goodwill….I hope we take the first step towards building bridges by doing away with the embargo.  I also hope the new U.S. president, regardless of who it is, has the sense to also respect Cuba’s sovereignty and its right to chart its own course.


  9. Follow up post #9 added on February 19, 2008 by Moraima Ceper

    thank god….maybe i’ll be able to take my dad for us to go meet our family!!


  10. Follow up post #10 added on February 19, 2008 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    ...and here’s what Oswaldo Paya has to say about Fidel’s retirement.



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  11. Follow up post #11 added on February 19, 2008 by swiss-informant & cuba lover

    fidel castros bank accounts (-private, cimex, intertabak,.....,.....,....)
    are billions of usd overfull - thank’s his 49 years totalitarian dictatorship and pression. wonderfull cuba and cubans it is time now to wake up to an
    real cuba without totalitarian dictatorship and pression !!!


  12. Follow up post #12 added on February 19, 2008 by arteest with 103 total posts

    Having just returned from Cuba, I know there are people there who feel as siwaller does. I know there are people in Cuba who feel a bit sad today as well. And besides, Publisher, how can siwaller be writing from Cuba if this site is banned in Cuba?


  13. Follow up post #13 added on February 19, 2008 by wanderer

    am i the only one who is underwhelmed by this announcement? nothing is really going to change now is it?


  14. Follow up post #14 added on February 19, 2008 by swiss-informant & cuba lover

    there are many foreigners from all over the world who was living many many years as permanent resident in cuba ! ... and “al fin” this site is not banned
    for all the other humans - which are living in a free world !
    viva la verdad & libertad !!! - hopefully for the cubans in cuba - soon to !!!


  15. Follow up post #15 added on February 19, 2008 by NowPublic

    I work as an Editor for NowPublic.com, an international, participatory news network that mobilizes citizen reporters to cover events around the world.

    We’re looking for people with photos, videos, and responses to the news that Fidel Castro has announced his retirement.

    The Associated Press is working with NowPublic to help get coverage from people affected by this story. We are asking people like you who might be close by for help. We are prepared to pay for photos and videos if you have good footage.

    Here’s a link to the story on our site: http://www.nowpublic.com/world/fidel-castro-officially-steps-down

    Please email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) if you have content to add, or know anyone else who might, and let me know if you have any questions.

    Thanks and best,
    Jarrett


  16. Follow up post #16 added on February 19, 2008 by DeeDee

    Hooray!  This is wonderful news to me.  I hope a change will occur now that Fidel is retired.  May democracy flourish to the Cubanos.  I will be praying about this and hope transition is good and healthy for the people of Cuba.  :O)


  17. Follow up post #17 added on February 19, 2008 by GOP Latina

    The people that feel a bit sad are just concerned about their future.  They have seen no other means other than under dictatorship.  Once they get a taste of freedom, they will see how evil Fidel Castro was.

    I’m glad he’s just about done.


  18. Follow up post #18 added on February 19, 2008 by Leah

    Fellow native born Cubans,
    Descendants of Cuban cigarmakers in Tampa were big supporters of Fidel Castro’s revolution.  They, instrumental in obtaining Cuba’s freedom from Spain, were opposed to Batista’s regime.

    From an economic standpoint, the embargo’s importance to Tampa cannot be overstated.  Cuban cigar leaves are the essential ingredient which, combined with Tampa’s humid climate and skilled cigarmakers, allowed for Tampa’s fame as the Cigar City.

    So, granted that Tampa resident are scarsely objective about the embargo against Cuba; their opinion should be counted nevertheless as they are part of a culture which was willing to sacrifice financially in order to obtain Cuba’s freedom from Spain over a century ago.  I hope most Cubans know enough about their history to be aware that cigarmakers would give a day of their wages each week for that cause of liberation.

    I will read La Gaceta, the local Ybor City newspaper, with interest on this subject.  I do not expect to equate the reaction of the present publisher with that of the original Mr. Manteiga, but will consider it an important voice to HEARKEN. 

    Democracy, as defined by the Greeks, was not about majority rule but about hearing all the VOICES.  Similarly, the town meetings which were at the basis of democracy in this nation, were about hearing what EVERYONE has to say.

    Please, remember that not all Cubans are Miami exiles nor are they all pro-Batista or even right wing.  Also, there are other ethnic groups whose political lives are intertwined with Cuba and with the Revolution.

    As for me, I feel a great relief, I feel that something positive is about to occur.  But, at times such as this, emotions run in every direction.  A cousin in Puerto Rico tells me that Raul is firmly supported by the military, but I hope that in the military there are also democratic aspirations. 

    Is all of this going to motivate humanitarian aid for Cuba?


  19. Follow up post #19 added on February 19, 2008 by Mario

    What a great time and opportunity for the United States and Cuba to finally end this waste of each countries economies. Each country must move quickly to avoid an emergence of a criminal underclass which could take over where the Castro’s are ending. It is important for our government to work collectively to end this embargo and return Cuba to it’s place in the international community. Without US support, other factions will take charge in this rapidly developing change and can lead to further isolation of the cuban people. Crime is already on the rise in Habana with violent purse snatching’s occuring almost daily. With a 24 to 1 ratio CUC to MN’s a quick theft can provide a bonanza for the criminal. The time to act to prevent a devolution into chaos post Castro’s is now. If the US ends the embargo, money ceases to be a problem for Cuban people especially those with relatives in the US. Ending Travel restrictions will do more to advance and enhance this change then any embargo ever could. Cubas next step in this century is at hand, we as a country should do all we can to aid the cuban people and help smooth the transition from communista to democratic. Viva la libertidad de Cuba!


  20. Follow up post #20 added on February 19, 2008 by siwaller with 7 total posts

    I completely agree, the embargo must end, but irrespective of who is in power in the US, I don’t think it will happen, I saw George Bush commenting on TV tonight that it will remain until Cuba has free elections (which exist already). I’m totally against any country trying to impose their ideals on another, even my own. The Cubans living in Cuba should be allowed to decide what happens in Cuba, no one else really has the right to demand from the outside that things change.

    To answer a couple of thoughts above, no I’m not Cuban, but have been to Cuba many times over the last 12 years and have several friends in Havana and Holguin province. I communicate with them all regularly. I believe there are many good things happening in Cuba, even as long as 12 years ago, every country has its problems, including my own, change is a difficult thing to bring about even in a so called democracy of which there are many flavours. I personally see Cuba going down a route similar to China.

    The key to real progress in Cuba is the ending of the embargo and support not interferance from other countries.

    All my Cuban friends as well as other Cubans who I have posed the “what will happen post Fidel Castro” question have said the same thing, they don’t expect big changes.


  21. Follow up post #21 added on February 19, 2008 by arteest with 103 total posts

    I agree with siwaller. I don’t think the US should “rush” to do anything. While I was in Cuba, one thing was very clear. That while Cubans themselves have nothing against Americans in general, they want no part of the US government. I have a deep fondness for Cuba and the Cuban people and I agree that Cubans be allowed to determine their own fate. I am a strong believer that democracy US-style is not meant to work for every country on the globe. The rest of the world doesn’t think like Americans think—they have had their own ways of thinking and doing things down through history. I agree that the US has no right to yet again ram their own agenda down the throats of yet another country. They already had their time during Batista’s reign. And, as we all know, it’s not working very well in Iraq.


  22. Follow up post #22 added on February 19, 2008 by Cuban American

    No change will occur, the regime will continue to be headed by Fidel Castro.  He has resigned as president and comander and cheif but he hasn’t resigned as first secratary of the communist party.  Which in the Communist Cuban constitution states that the communist party has power over the president and armed forces.  So he is still there and running things, and it will be that way until both him and Raul pass. 

    Siwaller,
    I could tell right off the bat that your not Cuban because if you were you wouldn’t be talking so positively about the current state Cuba is in and has been in for the past 49 years.  FREE ELECTIONS? your joking right?  There is nothing free about Cuban elections.  The people don’t elect Castro the communist party does, and there is no party other than the Communist party allowed, please tell me how that comes accross as free elections? 

    The media has romanticized the revolution to make it seem that Cuba’s current state if because of the US embargo.  When in reality the people to blame are Castro and the communist party who have created the tropical gulag we call Cuba. 

    Why should we make steps to normalizing relations?  Why should we always bend over backwards for the totalitarian regime in Cuba.  Negotiations should begin no earlier than the day that Cuba frees its political prisoners and lives up to the Universal Human Rights decleration.  The regime can’t have its cake and eat it too.  I just pray that the international community aid the peaceful dissedents in encouraging change in Cuba. 

    “People should not be afraid of there governments, governments should be afraid of there people”


  23. Follow up post #23 added on February 19, 2008 by Mario

    When you don’t go to a party you can’t complain about what music is played. If we don’t engage in Cuba because of what has happened, are we any different than the shia and sunni who are still at odds over centuries old issues. As the people who were involved pass from the scene do we carry on the idiocy of their hatred? No we must look for change by being open to and supporting change whenever it appears. To continue a failed policy because a few believe it has benefitted their cause all while continuing the isolation and suffering of the people of Cuba is insanity. Cuba belongs not to you or me in America it belongs to the people of Cuba who are there in the middle of the morass, it is them who we should be supporting, and not be concerned with aging politicians.


  24. Follow up post #24 added on February 20, 2008 by MiamiCuban

    CubanAmerican said:  “Negotiations should begin no earlier than the day that Cuba frees its political prisoners.” 

    So by the same token, other countries shouldn’t “negotiate” with the U.S. until we free the vast majority of Guantanamo prisoners who are there with no charges whatsoever?  Come on, what right do we have to demand anything of Cuba?  This is the same mentality that has kept Cuba and the U.S. from arriving at diplomatic solutions.  As for fair and free elections, here again, we are far from being an example on how to run fair elections.  The world saw what happened in the elections of 2000 and 2004, so the minute we start telling others how they should run an election, we’re only embarassing ourselves.  Whatever course Cuba takes, let it come through its own people.  Let’s stop meddling in other countries’ affairs once and for all and let’s tend to our own mounting problems here at home.


  25. Follow up post #25 added on February 20, 2008 by siwaller with 7 total posts

    Cuban American… The election process Cuba has adopted has many similarities to many so called democratic countries. In the UK we don’t vote for a Prime Minisiter in the same way they don’t vote for a President in Cuba.. As a british voter that decision is out of my control totally.. where is the difference! few people vote now in the UK, less than 50% of the population on average.. why because we all know its a waste of time because whoever gets in generally have their own self interests at heart and want to retire with a big bank balance, perhaps Batista and his cronies have infiltrated our political system, right under our noses.

    There are many very positive things to talk about with regards to Cuba, they have got an awful lot right that we in both the UK and the USA get wrong, things that should be a priority. Too much emphasis in the democratic world is on making oneself richer to the detriment of our neighbours, there IS poverty in the UK as well as the US and I’m sure all the other democratic countries as well. Children don’t starve in Cuba, they have their health and free schooling to degree level, in our countries if you can’t afford.. you go without! if progress is about removing those good things from Cuba then they can do without it and I’d happily live there at a drop of a hat. All countries have their bad points, Cuba has few when compared to places like China (Human Rights!, Invading other countries - Tibet!, Political Prisoners etc etc) The only reason the US has the embargo against Cuba is because they are small fry, China is too economically important to upset.

    My father in law is Italian, he left Italy when he was 18 because of political and economic problems (over 60 years ago), his home is now the UK, he does not trouble himself with the goings on in Italy, why can’t Cuban American emigrees do the same! you’ve built a new life in the US stop dwelling on the past, you made a decision to go to the USA and other countries, now get on with your lives as you have chosen and allow those who still live in Cuba decide for themselves how they want to live. If someone had invaded your country and expelled you I could understand your arguments, however you chose to leave did you not! (at least no-one held a gun to your head and marched you onto the boat/plane).


  26. Follow up post #26 added on February 20, 2008 by arteest with 103 total posts

    Siwaller, while I think your post is very well put, there is only one party in Cuba for which one can vote, the Communist Party. In the UK, you have several from which to choose. And, MiamiCuban, well said.

    Here in Halifax (Canada), there is a group of musicians who are visiting from Cuba. There was an interview with them on CBC Radio this morning. One of them said, in speaking of Fidel’s retirement, “It’s sad. He was always there for us, you know?” When the subject of yesterday’s comments by George Bush came up, about the US desire to “help” a Cuban transition to democracy, these men “shook their heads and laughed.” They LAUGHED. They didn’t avert their eyes or stare at the ground or have tears welling up in their eyes, they laughed. It may be impossible for Americans to get their heads around but there are people in other countries who have no desire for US-style democracy, for whatever reason. There are people in this world who think differently and who want different things than the Americans. Their ideals are different. Yes, Cuba’s economy and infrastructure are in trouble but Cubans have a sense of community and unity unlike any other in the world. Their lives are indeed very difficult but they don’t have America’s violence and broken families. There is no sexual abuse of children.  Yes, their lives are based on getting enough to eat and taking care of their families, getting by day-to-day, but that’s how they live—in the present. They are not driven to buy things they don’t need, they’re not in debt up to their eyeballs. Families are extremely tight. The social network is very strong. Violent crime like murder and rape is virtually unheard of. The literacy rate is higher than that of the US and Canada.  There are many of us, in different countries, who have been to Cuba, who have witnessed in Cuba, a standard of life that in some ways is higher than that of the US. During my time in Cuba, I experienced many things that, sadly, haven’t been a part of North American lives for many years. We shake our heads with the Cubans when we hear Bush say he wants to help with a transition to Democracy. Cubans don’t want US-style democracy. The Cubans I spoke to don’t want crime, broken families or greed. The Miami exiles do, the Cubans do not. Hopefully, under Raul, the economy will improve and Cubans will be able to freely visit other parts of the world. And, then, most of them will return home.


  27. Follow up post #27 added on February 20, 2008 by siwaller with 7 total posts

    Hi artest…

    Very true (The Party bit that is, but I and many others would argue that they are all as bad as each other and that there is very little difference between them lmao), under the UK system it is the party members who decide who their leader will be and therefore ultmately who will become the PM. Not too discimilar to the cuban system, except they of course only have the one party. What they do have though is a vote on who represents them, so they may only have one party but they still have a choice over who will represent them, just the same as our system.

    i’d happily back up all your other comments….


  28. Follow up post #28 added on February 20, 2008 by MiamiCuban

    With reference to the issue of whose election system is superior….while in the U.S. we basically have two viable parties to choose from, the distinctions between the Democratic and Republican parties have become so blurred over the years that it’s almost as if we only had one party—-which in the end does the bidding of the Corporations.  So far, no third party candidate has truly had a shot at the presidency, at least not without the big $$$ that can only come from—-you guessed it—-the corporations.  We now have increasing poverty and a fast-approaching healthcare crisis, so I fail to see what it is we can “teach” Cubans. 
    As for why Cuban exiles continue meddling in Cuban affairs, there is an incentive there—-the U.S. Government funds their projects so they can destabilize the Cuban economy (going back to the Bay of Pigs), and all of course to the detriment of the Cuban people.  So, Siwaller, I imagine what was going through the musicians’ heads when they laughed over Bush’s desire to “help.”  Cubans are wise and educated, so they know better.


  29. Follow up post #29 added on February 20, 2008 by arteest with 103 total posts

    Well said. I don’t think most Americans are aware that when a Cuban gets to the States, by whatever means, he or she is given carte blanche to a green card and whatever other help they need. One more Cuban is another feather in the US government’s cap. I find it mind boggling.


  30. Follow up post #30 added on February 20, 2008 by MiamiCuban

    Exactly, arteest.  Haitians, on the other hand, are no “feather in the cap” so they’re shipped right back to Haiti.


  31. Follow up post #31 added on February 20, 2008 by Leah

    Enough!!!!!!
    I directed my essay to native-born Cubans, yet it has RAPIDLY evolved into an opportunity for foreigners to spout out xenophobia against Cuban refugees who continue to be concerned about their country’s welfare.  Funny, the Irish continue to be active in seeking the well-being of their country and they are considered heroes for that. 
    Please, first of all READ the contents of an essay before attempting to use it as a forum for your own agenda.
    The last thing I sought was for a British tourist to let me know what an expert he is about Cuban society.  My goal was to allow Cubans to know that their voice is not forgotten, the voice of those who left during the Batista regime or early in the Cuban revolution because EVERYONE in politics, right or left, was persecuted by the revolution.  It was to express OUR VOICE, not to ask British and other foreigners to INSTRUCT Cubans on The Havana Journal, because the superiority complex of these descendants of colonists propels them to do so. 
    THIS IS OUR DIALOGUE.  Whether we win or lose, whether we are a minority in the exile community or not, we do not seek your assistance. 
    Please educate yourselves on the history of Cuban independence, on its democratic CONSTITUTION, on Jose Marti’s struggle to create it and to promote FREEDOM as well as the support he received from Cuban communities in the U.S.A.  BE AWARE, please, that some Cubans were forced to leave, as my mother was, because her father was a Puerto Rican and hence a U.S.A. citizen. who were FORCED to leave Cuba. 
    While you are studying Cuban history,. the chapter on the English occupation includes an increase, three-fold, in the number of slaves in the island, who were brought to work on the sugar cane fields multiplied by the English colonists.
    Another Cuban idiosincracy, the term “working for the Englishman”, meant to work so that someone else may profit.  Well, I will not work for the Englishman.  I do not believe that a dialogue between Cubans BORN ON THE ISLAND should be used by those seeking to establish businesses on the island. 
    By the way, I have met a few who are posted in Key West, waiting for Castro to fall.  Why are they so ready to invade the island as they speak about its right to sovereignty?
    High also on the list of what I did not seek now or ever, is to be compared to the system of Arab countries.  Cuba did not have to be asked nor forced to create a constitution, it had one over a hundred years ago.  The comparison is beyong ridiculous and displays incredible ignorance and arrogance, in its attempt to speak to a subject in a “third world country” as if they were all alike.  The fact is, Cuba is not a third world country, even today with its economic problems, the literacy rate is indeed very high.  If you promote its right to speak for itself, start by respecting the rights of Cubans on this forum. 
    And do not even “get dressed” if you want to go into the U.S.A. occupation of Puerto Rico, please!  Another history lesson on arrogance, on establishing what is beneficial for foreigners, disregarding the needs or desires of the native people.
    ENOUGH!!!!!!!!!!  I


  32. Follow up post #32 added on February 20, 2008 by arteest with 103 total posts

    Leah, for my part, nothing I said was based on your essay. Quite frankly, I forgot all about it. I don’t think anyone here was telling Cubans what to do. This is a very loaded topic and I believe your emotions are running high. And I am not British.


  33. Follow up post #33 added on February 20, 2008 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    By email:

    The Christian Liberation Movement on Fidel Castro’s resignation
    This news is of indisputable importance historically and in the lives of all Cubans living in and outside of Cuba.
    Today ends almost five decades of one man’s rule and, as we have always said, Fidel’s replacement should be chosen by Cuba’s sovereign people. The National Assembly and all those in power should work immediately to reform the law so that citizens may have rights to free speech and association, to reform the electoral law, call free elections and liberate peaceful political prisoners so that in an environment of reconciliation, order and peace, the Cuban people may begin a new period in their lives—all Cubans united in diversity, love and peace, not divided by confrontation.
    The Cuban people cannot be denied what belongs to them, the rights that all Cubans have as human beings.
    Whatever evaluation or view Cubans may have about the period that has just come to an end, we must not enter into conflict but look to the future together. But in order to look to the future together, in the middle of so many differing experiences and emotions, we must begin on the basis of respect for the dignity of every person and the recognition in law and in practice of the rights of every Cuban.
    May this news of surprise to the Cuban people and the world, God willing open a new path and period for the lives of the new generation and all Cubans, and may it be one of peace, harmony, justice and rights. 
    It is our call and our determination to continue to work in this direction for the good of all Cubans.
    May God help the Cuban people in this moment.
    Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas

    Coordinator, Christian Liberation Movement
    Havana, February 19th 2008
    For more information please visit http://www.oswaldopaya.org



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  34. Follow up post #34 added on February 20, 2008 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Regarding #12, Many sites are banned in Cuba but not for the propagandists who work for the Cuban government.



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  35. Follow up post #35 added on February 20, 2008 by HavanAndrew

    This is being posted from Alta Gracia, Argentina, the childhood home of Che. The last public apppearence of Fidel Castro in public, unveiling the Che museum along with his buddy Chavez. The locals have a funny thing to say about the sickness of Fidel. They make a cheap version of chorizo that the drunk partiers have after a long, long night of partying. The local lore has it that the sausage was of dubious quality and in the case of Fidel, he had one of the worst chorizos here. So with quiet pride, they claim that someone here succeeded where the CIA did not. On a more serious note, it appears that Chavez is doing quite a bit of bribing and other underhanded tactics. He was caught with $800,000 in a brief case for a bribe for the president of Argentina. The customs officer that forced the issue is now in assylum in the United States. Also, the American ambassador has had closed door sessions with her, the tone and nature of the meetings remain a secret. Chavez is also at work with all Latin Anerican countries to form a strong cohesive bizzare socialist South America. I am willing to guess that the man playing quarterback is, you guessed it, Fidel. This is Fidel´s last stand. Love him or hate him, he is one brilliant chess player.


  36. Follow up post #36 added on February 21, 2008 by Brenda

    I’m a Cuban-American and I agree with Leah. My family is pleased to say the least about the resignation, but there is still a lot of work to be done to change the system in Cuba. My family lives in the Keys and it’s discussed there everyday by tourists and locals alike how they are going to go in and set up this business or this shop. PLEASE,don’t turn Cuba into a tourist trap! Theses people need real infastructure,real help building up the country,supplies,food and other things to progress forward. I still have family there that has no idea Castro has resigned,if that tells you anything about the goings on in that country! Nothing has changed. One monster has been replaced by another monster, and we as descendants are waiting and watching. We will and should be the first to help repair our mother’s and father’s country. I’ll be in the front row.


  37. Follow up post #37 added on February 21, 2008 by arteest with 103 total posts

    Perhaps, because you live in the States, you’re not aware of this but the #1 industry/source of income for Cuba now is tourism. The last time I was at the Malecón in Habana, parked tour buses stretched from Castillo del Morro along the water, past Habana Vieja. It was an amazing sight.


  38. Follow up post #38 added on February 21, 2008 by Yeyo with 411 total posts

    And perhaps a tourist that goes to the Malecon feels that he now knows everything about Cuba.
    You have to live there and study the country to know the real Cuba.
    Like you have to live in Canada and study the country to learn the real Canada.


  39. Follow up post #39 added on February 21, 2008 by Leah

    History tells us that colonists have often, nearly always, assumed that they know what is best for the economy of the Caribbean islands; history reinforces the sad conclusion that arrogance and ignorance are the basis of many actions taken TOWARD “third world” countries rather than for them or with them.

    Puerto Rico, where a varied agriculture allowed the people to live well, was forced to become a country ruled by “King Sugar”, as the 19th century price of sugar provided handsome profits for U.S.A. interests which were able to switch from the cotton crop of the Southern U.S.A. to another crop, requiring back-breaking labor.  Breaking the laws which limited the amount of land which could be purchased, even before the Spanish American War large sugar plantations were established.  Again, I speak from my own family’s experience, as they were members of that agricultural community and as they witnessed its destruction, leading to urban flight and increased crime, as well as labor unrest, violence, and discontent. 

    The Philiphines were also treated as if they had no right to decide their own destiny.  If you like, research newspaper articles from the era post-Spanish-American War to experience for yourself the condescending attitudes held by this government and by this socierty. 

    As for Cuba, it is well-known that Cuban patriots, who had fought a LONG WAR against Spain were excluded from the ceremony wherein Spain conceded loss in the war, as only U.S.A. forces faced the losing Spaniards.  Following that, U.S.A. intervention took many forms which should be studied well by anyone even attempting to again get involved in Cuban political life.  It should then become clear to the researcher that the Cuban people will NEVER again allow foreigners to DICTATE what is good for them. 

    Cuba is not a tiny island, it does not consist of the Malecon and the tourists spots alone.  It is in fact a rich culture, which intersperced within it many cultures in a rich tapestry.  Cuba was so open that citizenship cost nothing to those who sought it; the U.S.A. forced Cuba to charge for citizenship as so many exiles from the Shoah were able to go to Cuba, obtain cirtizenship and then move to the U.S.A., as the yearly quota for Cuba-to-U.S.A. immigrartion was never filled. 

    In my own family, with U.S.A. citizenship readily available, no one wanted to leave.  On my father’s side, cousins whose father was a WWII hero would DISUADE my father from his dream of moving to the U.S.A., knowing that a segregated society would be abhorent to him.  Even Cuban baseball players in the U.S.A. called the island their HOME, one of them had his beautiful home and family on my block. 

    Cuba, long before you visited the Malecon, was visited by Langton Hughes, the greatest of the African-American poets, whose muse was developed on Cuban soil, listening to Cuban DRUMS.  It was Nicolas Guillen, (the “bad Guillen” they called him), who wrote “Havana Zoo” and “Ballad of my Two Grandfathers”, his friend from the Spanish Civil War, who taught him to write, long ago, in the 1940s. 

    Guillen and my father’s uncle were not the only Cubans to fight against Franco, others came some from here in Tampa.  Cubans have fought side-by-side with soldiers from the United States several times.  Some were recruited during the 1962 missile crisis, winding up in Viet Nam although the military had spread the rumor that they were being recruited to liberate Cuba.  I know, my own BROTHER was barely 16 when this happend, recruited underage, told to just change the birthdate on the passport, all this while my father was a prisoner of war and my mother had two even younger children at home and faced the possibility of being a widow. 

    You can bathe in Varadero, but you do not become an expert on Cuban economics that way.  You just get wet and a tan.


  40. Follow up post #40 added on February 21, 2008 by siwaller with 7 total posts

    As the British person who is presumably being ear-bashed somewhat by Leah, I have had no sight of any essay! 

    My knowledge of the current situation in Cuba is current and my historical knowledge is just as extensive. I’ve taken it upon myself over the last 12 years to learn the history going back to Jose Marti, read various auto-biographies on subjects such as Fidel Castro, Che Guevarra et al. I back that knowledge up by NOT being a tourist when visiting Cuba but by living amongst the people of Cuba, eating at places they eat at, queueing in the same queue as them when necessary, i have never and will never accept any of the benefits of so called tourists, in many respects I do not like the tourist face of Cuba, however the economic benefits of this industry to Cuba are very clear to see.

    No similarities can be drawn between Cuba and Northern Ireland, the majority of the people of Northern Ireland wish to be British, any struggles there have been to protect their rights as happened in the falkland islands back in 83.

    My comments are not designed to offend and I am very aware of the sensitivity of the subject at hand.  My sweeping comment about people being forced to leave Cuba is in the main true, generally speaking, those who supported the Batista regime and the corruption of his government had good reason to run (and I’m darn sure I would have if I was one of them), all wars, revolutions etc have their casualties, though I would never (and could never) condone the rounding up and elimination of ones enemies.

    Also I have never said that everything is perfect in Cuba (no country could ever say it was), there are many things that need to be improved for the benefit of the people who live there, however there is a lot of things in Cuba that should be protected, i’ve mentioned healthcare, education and other social aspects already. In the ideal world the best of Cuba today could be preserved and combined with the best of a democratic system, however democracy itself does not lend itself to providing many of the good things that exist in Cuba today, if it could then i’m sure many democratic countries would have adopted them.

    The sanctions/blockade against Cuba only serves to hurt your own people, I picked up this article today, one of a few but growing number of anti-blockade reports I have read over recent years - http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/editorial/outlook/5557388.html

    My interests in Cuba are simple and honourable, that my friends in Cuba can decide for themselves without outside interferance how they live. If any Cuban who no longer lives in Cuba wishes to go back and make a life there that is their right and I would support them 200%, shouting over the fence in my humble opinion is the wrong way to go about it.

    If any country decided they didnt like the way of life in Cuba to the extent they would use armed force to change it… I would feel compelled to protect my friends and their young daughters/sons. That doesnt mean that I don’t think some change is needed, because clearly it is.

    I hope and pray that any Cuban not resident in Cuba but who wishes to may go home and live in harmony with those who never left. I hope though at the same time that the unjust class system that many in democratic societies live under does not reappear, though I am aware that a class system of sorts already exists within Cuba, the gap between rich and poor is nothing like it is in my own country and others such as the USA/Canada etc.


  41. Follow up post #41 added on February 21, 2008 by arteest with 103 total posts

    Siwaller, I think it is I they are “ear-bashing.” I don’t think emotions will simmer down so I will leave saying that I happily(?) back up your comments as well. I’ve never been to Veradero and I have a feeling you haven’t either. I have very dear friends in Cuba as well and I hope for the absolute best for them. My heart is with them.


  42. Follow up post #42 added on February 22, 2008 by siwaller with 7 total posts

    grin no and never will, in fact I actively discourage people from going there because those who do go to Varadero get such a false impression of Cuba.

    And on behalf of my friends there, thanks for the support and solidarity.


  43. Follow up post #43 added on March 02, 2008 by Leah

    For those who ARE in favor of Democracy

    Democracy is a value which is at the base of Western Civilization.  In fact, the rule of fair law preceeds even the Greeks of the 4th Century BCE.  However, I will not dwell on why we should be pro-democracy.  I will consider that argument a diversion, a way to SABOTAGE the dialogue with senseless, puerile complaints about how “democracy” does not work in this or that country.  In order to have a dialogue between civilized and educated people, certain rules DO apply.  One of them is to restrain from taking statements PERSONALLY and to restrain from accusing OTHERS personally.  I did not “ear bash” anyone least of all a specific Britisher and my posting referred to relations between the USA and Cuba, not including Britain at all.  I did not write that anyone had been to Varadero, but clutching at straws by trying to state that I did, shows lack of real substance from which to argue. 

    I have tried to maintain dignity while reading ludicrous statements.  But, since some have gone UNCHALLENGED and they SHOULD NOT, here are some responses, on the subject at hand which is Cuba today:

    1.  Rereading #12, I personally know that e-mail accounts are readily available to those who are working with the system, and quickly removed even from academics who are assisting purely historical research on San Juan Hill or the Spanish American War.  In fact, it was a WARNING to me, a RED FLAG, that a party with whom I was corresponding in Cuba had e-mail and was able to send to me pictures of his wife, his family, nicely scanned and in full color.  By the way, this “religious dissident” was able to pull his RUSE and convince others enough to make it to this country.  However, I did not assist him after I knew the truth:  he was disguising himself in order to reach the USA.

    2.  In number #25 and a number of false generalizations and over-all confusing remarks include:  There is no sexual abuse of children in Cuba.  False There is a TRAFFIC in underage girls and boys.  Recently I saw a photographic essay of an eastern town in Cuba sadly including the dilapidated buildlings and walls in need of paint; it also displayed young men at the beach, wet, tanned and nearly nude, posed as if for display.  I have had the disappointment of learning about a man who sent his teenage daughter, who still resembles a little girl, out of the country, married to an older man.  I have heard of instances of men who go to Cuba seeking a young pretty girl to marry, knowing that they would get a mate they could not find outside of Cuba, a woman who will marry OUT OF NECESSITY.  There are even web sites which arrange marriages and trysts including same-gender. 

    3. Several statements in #40 about democracy not “lending itself” to the good things which happen in Cuba are based on sheer ignorance.  Again please read my postings regarding the need to read Cuban history and learn about its people.  Cuba’s greatest hero on both sides of the fence, Jose Marti struggled to create a constitution and one existed for several decades.  Learn about La Constitucion del ‘40, learn about the rights of workers in Cuba over a century ago.  While seeking to create and to live in a democracy, Cuban workerd enjoyed rights, BEFORE THE CASTRO REVOLUTION, which are not paralleled in this country.  A Ph.D. thesis was written on cigar workers in Jacksonville, Florida, who worked for Cuban cigar factories, who enjoyed day care for the women cigar makers and other benefits UNHEARD OF ANYWHERE ELSE IN THIS COUNTRY AT THAT TIME.  Can you cover all of this with a picture of happy Cubans who in this fantany portrayal DISDAIN all that they have had for decades before the “revolution”?  For those of us who know that Cuban history did not begin with Che and Fidel, those of us whose bedtime stories were of Cuban history and of the valiant struggle of all the peoples of the Caribbean to be free from colonialism, it is offensive to read that, because YOU SAY SO, that Cuban people would not be happy in a democracy which we seek to “export” to them. 

    Cubans know that the USA did not invent democracy.  The Greeks first sought to perfect it in Athens, and among the first travellers to Spain were the Greeks, later the Romans then the Moors, etc.  It is PATERNALISTIC to pretend that Cubans can only get democracy “second hand”, from the USA and Britain.  I am sorry the system does not work in the UK.  This forum is not for analysing the cultural and economic reasons for that.  It is on Cuba and for CLEAR arguments, not to seek to confuse and use that opportunity to spread propaganda on how happy Cubans are.

    Another statement on how Batista’s cronies must have come to the USA and done harm to the democratic system here, is again offensive.  Cubans have prospered in this country and have great economic force, which can be used for the betterment of our homeland.  To be happy that they want to be involved in its economic recovery is to show affection for the Cubans “over there”.


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