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HavanaJournal.com: Cuba Politics

Fidel Castro releases statement that he supports younger leadership

Posted December 17, 2007 by publisher in Cuba Politics.
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Just got a couple calls about a breaking news story that Fidel has made an announcement that he will support a younger leader. I am looking for the original release now.

My first reaction to this is why is he not supporting Raul Castro?

How will this affect Raul’s ability to govern?

Will Raul supporters in the military fight for Raul or will they leave him now that they hear that Fidel may not even support Raul?

Will this cause political chaos in Cuba?

Member Comments

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On December 17, 2007, publisher wrote:

Apparently just very brief announcement read on Cuban television.

I was just interviewed by KNX radio in Los Angeles asking me questions about the meaning of this statement.

I find it interesting that Castro would just throw this out there in such a public way with no warning or explanation.

His Reflections have been talking mostly about global politics and not so much about local Cuban politics.

Why the official statement on Cuban television?

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On December 17, 2007, publisher wrote:

Thanks to alkarajo.com for posting in our Cuba Forum. This news story from BBC:

Fidel Castro hints at retirement

Cuba’s ailing communist leader, Fidel Castro, has said he has a duty not to hold on to power or obstruct the rise of younger people.

Correspondents say the letter read on state TV is the first suggestion that the 81-year-old president may give up his position in Cuba’s leadership.

Last year he handed over power to his brother Raul on a temporary basis.

Since then, he has not made a public appearance - although the government has released pictures of Mr Castro.

In the letter released on Monday, he said his duty was not to cling to office but “to pass on experiences and ideas whose modest value arises from the exceptional era in which I lived”.

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On December 17, 2007, publisher wrote:

Reading between the lines, why no mention of Raul?

What’s Fidel thinking here?

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On December 17, 2007, alkarajo.com wrote:

may be is not thonking anymore.

Do cadavers think?

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On December 17, 2007, publisher wrote:

Here’s the Reuter’s article:

HAVANA (Reuters) - Ailing Cuban leader Fidel Castro, who has not been seen in public for 16 months, suggested on Monday he might give up his formal leadership posts—the first time he has spoken of his possible retirement.

“My elemental duty is not to hold on to positions and less to obstruct the path of younger people,” the 80-year-old Castro said in a letter read on Cuban state television.

Castro, who took power in a 1959 revolution, handed over temporarily to his brother Raul in July 2006 after undergoing stomach surgery for an undisclosed illness.

Cuba’s National Assembly could formalize Castro’s retirement as head of state when it approves the members of the executive Council of State in March.

Castro said his duty is “to contribute experience and ideas whose modest value comes from the exceptional times that I have lived through.”

His comments at the end of the letter read out on a daily current affairs program on television suggested Castro would not resume office but instead continue in the role of elder statesman advising the country’s communist government on key issues.

Castro holds the posts of president of the Council of State and Council of Ministers, and first secretary of the ruling Communist Party.

Since March this year, Castro has dedicated himself to writing dozens of essays and newspaper columns on world affairs, but had not mentioned his future role until now.

(Reporting by Anthony Boadle, Editing by Kieran Murray)

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On December 17, 2007, publisher wrote:

In espanol HERE and HERE

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On December 17, 2007, Mako wrote:

When he talks about the “rise of younger peiole”. Is he talking about brothers in their late 70s ? :- )

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On December 17, 2007, HavanAndrew wrote:

It is not a surprise that Raul was the transitional guy, I do believe that I have dropped some hints. It was a way to make the post Castro era enter in a smoother way. Many people in the know in Cuba have been aware of this for some time. Castro may not be in top mental shape at this point but most certainly has had many years to orchestrate a smooth transition, consequently his legacy will continue. Just part of the Castro chess game.

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On December 17, 2007, publisher wrote:

HavanAndrew and others, I have had some time to digest this news and I have a couple thoughts that I would like your opinion on.

1. The younger generation means Carlos Lage. Raul will say that he will go back to running the military or even transition away from that post too.

2. This statement was too short to be written by a healthy Fidel. I have never even heard of a short statement from Fidel. Is this Fidel’s dying wish or order?

(Special thanks to my Miami phone connection for the information and insight wink

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On December 18, 2007, publisher wrote:

Here is the link to a news report from Miami with some footage from the Cuban television broadcast.

http://video.nbc6.net/player/?id=196496

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On December 18, 2007, HavanAndrew wrote:

It will be Lage’s show with his friends. Raul will be stylin’ out on the beach. Fidel will be pushin’ daisies. Washington will be wondering exactly what happened as the fascist exiles have been informing the C.I.A. junk info.

When you break down elements to a scenario, logic always prevails. Castro and his ego maniac tendencies need his legacy to live on, Raul can’t deliver because of his age.

As for Fidel, a dying wish? I would guess that he prepared a guidebook for them and it does not matter if he is right in the head. Its in motion.

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On December 18, 2007, publisher wrote:

Well said. It does seem all scripted but I didn’t see this one coming.

1. Does Chavez like Lage?

2. The US Embargo can be lifted in this scenario (no Fidel or Raul) so that’s another interesting aspect of Fidel’s statement.

3. Does Carlos Lage get elected in January or March 2008?

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On December 18, 2007, nacho wrote:

An attempt to answer those questions

1) We’re not sure if Chavez likes Lage but, how is that important?
Does Lage like Chavez? Will Lage, if in power, be willing to pay the price of Chavez interfering in Cuba’s internal affairs in exchange for petrol and invesment?

2) I thought the embargo could only be lifted once the Castros and every other current govermental figure and/or official institution is out of the way? I read one that only when Cuba opens up to “full democracy” will the embargo end.  However, maybe if the Castros are out of the picture and with Lage in power, maybe things can change. Come on, the US is talking to North Korea. why not talk to Lage or Raul?

3) Lage is in the ballots for the “Elections”... isn’t him? I think he is. Funnily enough Lage is sometimes referred to as “Vicepresident Lage” or “Secretary of the State Council” by the Cuban media.  Once Lage makes it, again, to the National Assembly, it will be easy to give him any goverment position. As always

4) How about Alarcon? I would’ve thought he is a player in the Cuban political scene

I was trying to get the candidate list from the Granma newspaper website and the links to Santiago de Cuba (where the Castros are nominated) list is not working http://www.granma.cubaweb.cu/secciones/elecciones/index.html

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On December 18, 2007, publisher wrote:

Nacho,

Thanks for the post.

If Chavez doesn’t like Lage then Chavez could make things difficult for Lage. I think I have seen them together so this may not be an issue. Will Lage want to deal with Chavez though, you’re right, that’s the question.

By law the Embargo cannot be lifted while Fidel or Raul are President. By intention, yes, the whole system would have to be changed but the trade or travel side could be lifted without having to pass a law to lift it if Lage is President.

I believe Alarcon is 71. He is not the younger generation and I think he is more of a diplomat than a leader. He’ll be the behind the scenes negotiator I would think.

I read somewhere that Cuba could create a Prime Minister position so let’s see if there is talk of Raul as President and Lage as Prime Minister.

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On December 18, 2007, nacho wrote:

Publisher: thanks for your reply.

Agreed on all counts, we’re on the same page

Other questions arise: whoever takes over in Cuba

- will they be willing to follow Chavez’s intromisiion?

- Chavez was elected and recently defeated in his effort to change the Venezuelan constitution. In theory, he can be voted out as well. Several variants come to the fore then - if the opposition takes over in Venezuela, they might cut off the oil lifeline to Cuba.. ... will the Cuban goverment/people survive?  Will they go back to the “dark ages” of the mid 90s?

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On December 18, 2007, alkarajo.com wrote:

If they appoint somebody like Lage, who is a technocrat, he will no last in power.

The military/intellegence machine - like Russia - will make sure of that!

Once the “Coma Andante” or the “Cadaver en Jefe” dies the “guayaba will hit the fan”.  Several things could happen:

1. Nobody will be able to contain the people - i doubt a dissenter will step in.
3. Everybody will try to get on a boat and come to Miami
2. A military junta will fill the power vacuum

Spanish Proverb: Muerto el Perro se acabo la Rabia.

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On December 18, 2007, Yeyo wrote:

Chavez like Lage and Lage loves Chavez. As a matter of fact Lage was the one that said that Cuba has two Presidents, Fidel Castro and Chavez.
In my opinion he has the brains to stay in the power circles but not to run the government. This is a medical doctor turned politician because in Cuba. I knew somebody that studied with him at medical school and said that he was never among the smartest in the class. However looks that he was always good yelling “viva Fidel” and that’s a condition to be in government. Lage was the guy running the Cuban Economy and we all know the results.
I had been made to understand that he and Felipe Perez the Exteriors Minister are not very good pals and depending Fidel’s remaining level of influence Felipe Perez (who is now 43) should be an strong contestant for the top post. To bad because Perez is actually less intelligent than Lage and his only merit has always been that he yelled “viva Fidel” harder than Lage.

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On December 18, 2007, publisher wrote:

I don’t see Perez Roque getting the job. I don’t think he is very bright and he is too much of a communist party hack. Lage might have more of an economic sense.

I think Lage is the best hope for keeping Castro’s “Revolucion” but I’m not sure that he’ll be there for long either.

Communism will still suck for the Cuban people. Doesn’t matter who is driving the bus. The bus is still old and busted and overcrowded.

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On December 18, 2007, nacho wrote:

Yep, it is less of a bus and more like a horse-drawn cart wink

Anyone but pig-faced Perez Roque. the guy looks like a sleazebag, I cannot stand the sight of him!!! He lacks brains and I don’t think the military respects him at all.

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On December 18, 2007, HavanAndrew wrote:

A key indicator to watch for now is some sort of endorsement directly or indirectly from the military. From my observations it would appear that Lage has been saying some fairly important things lately on behalf of the Cuban government and I doubt that he is doing this without their blessing. It would also explain the silly reforms Raul has announced lately, thus reforms based on a Chineese model might be coming soon to get the economy moving. It gives the American government some wiggle room to begin proper relations with a communist government, no different than China or Vietnam. Also start tracking Lage for keywords or the lack of rhetoric against the United States.

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On December 18, 2007, publisher wrote:

Again, good ideas.

I track all the other Cuba keywords with Google news alerts so I will add his name to the list. I own CarlosLage.com so I’ll give some thought to developing that.

In the mean time there is this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carlos_Lage_Dávila and this old post about Carlos Lage

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On December 18, 2007, J. Perez wrote:

It may be Lage as president or someone else, but make no mistake, Raul and the military will still be in charge and whatever changes take place will happen with their approval. I do not foresee any chaos or mass exodus.

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On December 18, 2007, HavanAndrew wrote:

I agree the military will have power over the next president and obviously are a key component in the transition. Also, am in full agreement that chaos or mass exodus will not happen. If there is chaos in the beginning it will be in Miami, they will have to find a new spin on things.

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On December 18, 2007, Christopher P. Baker wrote:

Several commentators have suggested that Fidel’s recent comment is a rebuff of kinds to Raul. I don’t see it that way.

The incremental changes that Raul is initiating bode well for the immediate future and surely have Fidel’s blessing. The pace of change will likely increase with Fidel’s passing, whether under Raul or Lage. And I believe a Cuba led by Lage (who is certainly the most popular Politburo figure with the general Cuban public) would further auger well for economic and political progress that could leverage more significant change. Will the military/security apparatus (loyal to Raul and the “system”) support Lage? That probably depends on whether Raul is “pushed aside,” which is hardly likely to happen. If he steps aside for Lage, then Lage by definition has Raul’s support. As to Roquez. It is clear from my time ‘on the street’ in Cuba that he is not generally liked. Not least, he is considered too ambitious. That said, he has matured on the job and cuts a more impressive figure these days than a few years ago. He could yet surprise us all, especially if he receives the “crown” from Fidel. Meanwhile, in all likelihood, we’ll see a few more years with Raul as head.

As to the comments here about “nobody will be able to contain the people.” Certainly, things could spiral out of control and there could be a popular uprising. But I don’t feel that energy in Cuba. Anyone, like myself, who has spent considerable time “on the street” throughout the island knows that even though there is tremendous desire for more economic and political freedom, and tremendous anger against Fidel and the “system,” there is also an equal amount of love and loyalty. And there’s a clear dichotomy of sympathies between town and country—another recipe for conflict. However, interestingly, one element that binds the two sides together and which seems universal is a fear that things could turn violent, and especially that the U.S. will intervene. The vast majority of Cubans are hoping for a peaceful transition and seem ready to accept incremental “improvements” in preference to violent upheaval. If there’s one good thing to come out of the Iraq disaster it’s that it has certainly limited the Bush administration’s ability to use military force vis a vis Cuba, at least in the short term. A salient and true anecdote here suggests just how wrong the White House (and others) has been in pronunciations about the Cubans’ supposed readiness to “topple” the regime… a few years ago I asked a personal acquaintance in Cuba what he would do if there was a U.S. invasion. On which side would he fight? This person hates Fidel and the system, but his response took me by surprise. “I’d have no option but to fight with Fidel,” he replied. “We want to control our own destiny.”

There are encouraging signs for cautious optimism about the direction Cuba now seems to be heading. It’s now all about pace and degree.

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On December 18, 2007, cubanpete wrote:

In the context of Cuba, Raul represents the “youth” wing of the PCC.

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On December 18, 2007, Havanatopia wrote:

Chris, you perhaps overlook the impact Cuban exiles might have in all of this potential and imminent change…

Would the influx of huge numbers of Cuban Americans into Cuba be a pretex for a US intervention?

Perhaps the US would stand idly by and let that happen but it could seriously destabilise Cuba and I doubt very much if they want that.

However, they may tacitly support such an influx by wrapping it all up in a new spirit of openess and dialogue with Cuba post Fidel. Such sentiments from the outgoing Bush administration may be all that is required to send thousands southward. Its all about timing and perhaps that date is now fast approaching.

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On December 18, 2007, Tom Hunger wrote:

Viva Cuba Libre!  He’s not gone yet but I’m sure “Old Scratch” is warming up the fires.  The U.S.-Cuba relationship since Castro’s appearance has been one shrouded in a political mystery.  There has always been the air of something not quite revealed by both sides as to this adverse relationship.  Perhaps with his passing all will become clear?  I doubt it but with a great deal of luck, the turmoil of the last fifty years will pass over the horizon.

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On December 18, 2007, D. Watson wrote:

It is amusing that some here think there will be a mass exodus.  As Chris pointed out, the people will fight any intervention by the USA, especially anything initiated by the terrorists in Miami.  They are so out of touch with what Cuba has become and are still imagining some glorious return.  Its not going to happen. I spend time with Cuban friends twice a year, they re proud of what they have accomplished and will fight to keep those achievements.  Yes, they would like some changes, but they desire to continue on their own path without becoming the slaves of the wealthy elite who chose to leave.  They are extremely well educated and know their past history very well, which is nothing like what the gusanos in Florida like to spout off about.  Millions of people go to Cuba every year, the reality is the polar opposite of what the “exiles” believe.  I am going again in March for a month and will be renting a car and travelling the whole island!

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On December 18, 2007, publisher wrote:

Yikes Watson. I can see you are passionate about allowing Cuba to be a sovereign nation and that is a good thing. I do think the Cuban Americans are out of touch with at least the pride of their brethren to the south.

One thing that is becoming clear is that it does seem to be time for Fidel to move out of the way and let someone try something new. I think this statement from Fidel (assuming it was actually written by Fidel) is admitting to that.

As Christopher said above, now it’s a question of the pace and degree of change.

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On December 18, 2007, Juanita Perez wrote:

Does anyone know about the three different factions of the military in Cuba & who they support?

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On December 18, 2007, J. Perez wrote:

I am inclined to agree with most of Crhistopher’s comments. As far as the pace, I believe it will be slow and the degree, moderate.

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On December 18, 2007, alkarajo.com wrote:

The Cuban Military is more interested in their businesses.

Check out this article from the WSJ published a year ago:

Guns and Butter: Cuba’s Military Puts Business On Front Lines

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB116356024065223514.html?mod=todays_us_page_one

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On December 18, 2007, Tom Hunger wrote:

The myth of the “rich” Cuban exiles?  You had to be there.  I can remember taking an elevator in the book stacks of the University of Miami after the first wave of exiles.  It had a “elevator boy”, where there had been none before.  Turns out he was a surgeon in Cuba and had arrived with his family and not one red cent between them.  He was working three jobs at minimum pay to support his family and learn English until he could be certified in this country.  As with most who came here, they WORKED to become “the rich”.  As to a wave of U.S. Cubans returning?  Some will, some will not.  As usual, it depends on the politics of the situation.  One thing for very sure.  They will not be returning to an oppresive Cuban dictatorship where your every word may be under scrutiny and you dare not critisize, due to what your neighbor may say about you.  Terrorists in Miami?  As far as I know, none of them have tried to disrupt the rest of Central America, the Carribean and South America.  Che Guevera didn’t die on Miami Beach.  Anyone remember Angola?  The Cuban missile crises?  Venezuela?  The drug pipeline to the Bahamas from Cuban ports?  Miami “terrorists” indeed.

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On December 19, 2007, Luis wrote:

Continuación no transición. La revolución y el sistema socialista continuara con o sin Fidel eso esta garantizado por lo menos por los 10 primeros anos después de que Fidel ceda el poder oficialmente, el como estadista, como una de las primeras personalidades del siglo 20 ha sido capaz de reunir junto a su núcleo, a un personal capaz de dirigir el país;  cosa que ya se ha demostrado por un ano y 4 meses, el país continua y nada ha pasado. Fidel ha sido capaz de trasmitir sus ideales y sus principios a su pueblo y un pueblo educado crea sus propias vías de resistencia y de disciplina.
La Revolución continuara ya sea Raúl presidente o Lage o el que el pueblo decida, no será fácil, pero tampoco ha sido fácil estos años donde se ha luchado contra el embargo y todas las manipulaciones de el imperio. Nadie podrá dirigir como lo hizo Fidel, pero lo intentaran y continuaran el camino trazado por Marti y Fidel. Los contrarios al sistema, dentro y fuera del país, nada tendrán a favor.
En cuanto a Chávez, es otro líder, con una línea trazada, pero que conoce la forma de ser de los cubanos, sus ideales y sus principios, se puede decir que estará ofreciendo su mano, a la persona que elija nuestro pueblo, no cabe duda alguna.

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On December 19, 2007, nacho wrote:

What the hell was that Luis? English please. When was the last time the Cuban people had the chance to freely elect its representatives?

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On December 19, 2007, Tom Hunger wrote:

Luis:  En Ingles, por favor.  Hay muchas personas aqui que no puedan hablar en Espanol.

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On December 19, 2007, abh wrote:

You guys are hilarious.  I didn’t realize this was an english only board.

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On December 19, 2007, publisher wrote:

It’s not. I welcome more Spanish. I don’t speak it well but I do encourage people to post in Spanish.

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On December 19, 2007, Yeyo wrote:

El Sr. Luis seems well authorized to use the computer and the internet because otherwise he would not be introducing the above post. Actually looks like he is putting the post on behalf of the Castro government, probably he works for the Interior or Foreign Ministries or may be he is one of the “international friends” of Castro.
In any case, Luis, the only thing Castro was able to put together was an Machiavellian oppression machine to forbid the human rights in Cuba for over 48 years.
Yes, the country continues and nothing had happened but that is the same trend that had characterizes the Cuban “revolution” since the early days of the 60’s. Revolution? I don’t even know that that word means anymore.
In fact that is not a complete true; the Economy had been going in full reverse since then.
I know, I know, the Bloqueo, no Luis, the actual cause of the chaos the Economy had been immerse since Castro took office is that Guerrilla leaders, Doctors, Military officers, no previous work experience, cronies all, had been leading the economy, it seems that the only requirement to lead the Economy in Cuba is to yell viva Castro very strong. Unfortunately the average Cubans had and would continue paying for that.
In regard to your comment that nobody would lead as Castro, I have to say that either you are a moron or are trying to pass by one. You do not need to be so subservient. There are hundred, thousands of Cubans in and outside of Cuba that can lead the Country thousand times better than Castro. The future Cuban leaders only need that people like you allow them to do their job, giving a chance to a real democracy. 
In today’s Cuba most Cubans don’t know what would be their life in the future. A country where the maximum leader had been year after year telling his people that tomorrow would be worst than today.
Luis, give me a break, any thing would be better than how are things in el patio now.

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On December 19, 2007, nacho wrote:

I apologise for that, I thought it was English only!
Anyway, Luis, responde mi pregunta… cuando fue la ultima vez que el pueblo cubano tuvo oportunidad de expresarse y votar libremente?
Si, tal vez tengas razon y el socialismo en Cuba sobreviva a los Castro pero no por la opcion de todos los cubanos. Al fin y al cabo, en la Union Sovietica (se acuerdan de eso?) el socialismo sobrevivio a Lenin, Stalin et al.
La Revolucion, sus principios y valores… eso al cubano promedio le suena hueco cuando el salario no le alcanza para comer, no tiene agua ni jabon para ducharse y cuando no puede ver la novela por falta de electricidad. Ah y encima de todo no puede quejarse por los problemas porque lo califican de mercenario y termina en la carcel. De que valen las consignas si no hay comida?

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On December 19, 2007, Tom Hunger wrote:

Bravo, Yeyo!

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On December 21, 2007, Wajiro wrote:

castro is at the taxidermist now, LOL

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On December 21, 2007, Tom Hunger wrote:

Wajiro:  Do you think they’ll go for a full body mount or just a wall hung head mount?  Just think of the possibilities!  They could have a cultural exchange program with Moscow by sending him up there in exchange for Lenin.

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On December 22, 2007, Wajiro wrote:

They will probably do a shoulder left turn open mouth mount, since he always leaned left and never kept his mouth shut,lmao.