This is tremendous news! Fidel Castro, who has outlasted over 10 US presidents, has decided to resign his role as president of Cuba.
Some of you may remember the famous Cuban Missile Crisis which was arguably the most memorable thing about JFK’s presidency. In that little diplomatic fracas, the Soviety Union had placed nuclear missiles in Cuba, and the US was extremely unhappy. Cuba, as you know, is only 90 miles from the US, so having nuclear weapons that close meant a huge threat to large swathes of the contiguous US. Luckily, the whole thing was resolved without bloodshed, though it did result in a blockade of Cuba, and an embargo that lasts to this day.
So Castro, the cigar smoking tyrant whose iconic hat and look had inspired some odd fashion trends in the last few years, has finally decided that his recent health problems were too much for him to handle. Back in 2006, he went into hospital and had ceded power “temporarily” to his brother, Raul.
This brings a fresh little breath of change to Cuba. Although Raul Castro has been publicly named as successor, there is hope that he will at least break a little with Fidel’s style and allow some reforms to occur. This could entirely be naive, but I think at this point it is worth hoping for. Stranger things have happened!
Although Castro has done some pretty terrible deeds, ordinary Cubans seem to respect the good things he’s accomplished. Under his rule, literacy and health care have improved tremendously. He, along with Che Guevara overthrew a dictator named Fulgencio Batista and established a socialist government back in 1959.With this important event, this may signal new change in South/Central America.
I think I may have been too hasty in some of my statements. It turns out the US has now released a statement claiming that they will not, in fact ease the embargo.
Despite having wished openly for Castro’s demise and the end of his rule for years, U.S. officials said Tuesday that the Cuban president’s decision to step down on his own terms leaves little hope for real democratic transition in communist Cuba during President George W. Bush’s final year in office, although it may open options for Bush’s successor in the White House.
This article claims that the official US stance is that Raul Castro, Fidel’s brother and heir apparent, is no better than Fidel and is actually just “Fidel-lite”. I’m not convinced that’s entirely an accurate statement, but we’ll have to see what happens I guess.
All three of the presidential contenders are all over this as well, wanting to be the ones to bring democracy to Cuba.
Either way, big things are happening in the world. Castro steps down, the Pakistani elections appear to have resulted in the defeat of Musharaff’s ruling party. Definitely an exciting time to be alive. More soon.