MEXICO CITY — Fidel Castro stepped down Tuesday morning as the president of Cuba after a long illness, ending one of the longest tenures as an all-powerful,
communist head of state in the world, according to Granma, the official publication of the Cuban Communist Party.
Now, just days before the national assembly is to meet to select a new head of state, Mr. Castro resigned permanently in a letter to the nation and signaled his willingness to let a younger generation assume power. He said his failing health made it impossible to return as president.
“I will not aspire to neither will I accept — I repeat I will not aspire to neither will I accept — the position of President of the Council of State and Commander in chief,” he wrote.
He added: “It would betray my conscience to occupy a responsibility that requires mobility and the total commitment that I am not in the physical condition to offer."
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
I hadn't expected to wake up to this:
Fidel Castro has been in power almost as long as I've been alive, the symbolic demon of the "evil communist empire" only 90 miles away. Almost 50 years of confrontation and sanctions did little to change Castro, and instead only hurt the Cuban people. He did supply the right wing with a reliable "whipping boy"; the "bad guy" that inspired a lot of tough talk. While Castro certainly bears his share of responsibility, America's Cuba policy has been stubbornly wrongheaded for years.
With his brother taking power, don't expect any major change in relations soon. But there is hope for a normal relationship in the future. My main hope is that America doesn't try to to meddle or maniputlate Cuba. We've tried that in Haiti.
(p.s. Watch shrub try to take credit for this "foreign policy success" in a coming speech.)