BY FRANCES ROBLES | Miami Herald
Thursday’s July 26 revolutionary party had all the markings of Cuba’s annual revolutionary celebration: the flags, the music, the chanting crowds.
But this year the roar of the masses recited a different name: ‘‘Ra-ul! Ra-ul!’’ Marking the end of an era and the start of new one, for the first time in 48 years—but for an enormous billboard—the comandante en jefe Fidel was nowhere to be found. In his place was his brother, Defense Minister and interim President Raul Castro, who stood before tens of thousands of people in the central city of Camaguey and offered to negotiate with whoever wins the 2008 U.S. elections.
‘I tell whoever the next group of leaders is: `If you are ready to talk in a civilized manner, we are prepared to do so,’ ‘’ Castro said. ``If not, we’re ready to confront your policy of hostility for another 50 years if necessary.’‘