Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Fidel Castro Retires

Excerpts of Fidel Castro's letter:
"Dear compatriots,
I promised you on 15 February that in my next reflections I would touch on a subject of interest for many compatriots. This time that reflection takes the form of a message...
I held the honourable position of president for a period of many years... Before that I had held the post of prime minister for nearly 18 years. I always exercised the necessary prerogatives to carry forward our revolutionary work with the support of the vast majority of the people.
Knowing about my critical state of health, many people overseas thought that my provisional resignation from the post of president of the Council of State on 31 July 2006, leaving it in the hands of the First Vice-President, Raul Castro, was definitive. Raul himself, who also holds the post of minister of the Revolutionary Armed Forces on his own merit, and my other comrades in the party leadership and the state, were reluctant to think of me removed from my posts despite my precarious state of health...
Preparing the people for my psychological and political absence was my primary obligation after so many years of struggle. I never ceased to say that we were dealing with a recuperation that was "not free from risk". My desire was always to carry out my duties until my final breath. That is what I have to offer.
To my close compatriots, who did me the immense honour in recent days of electing me as a member of parliament, I tell you that I will not aspire to or accept - I repeat - I will not aspire to or accept the post of president of the Council of State and commander-in-chief.
The path will always be difficult and will require the intelligent strength of all of us... Always prepare for the worst scenario. 'Be as prudent in success as you stand firm in adversity' is a principle that must not be forgotten. The adversary we must defeat is extremely strong, but we have kept him at bay for half a century.
I do not bid you farewell. My only wish is to fight as a soldier of ideas. I will continue to write under the title 'Reflections of compadre Fidel'. It will be another weapon in the arsenal on which you will be able to count. Perhaps my voice will be heard. I will be careful."

And what Bush says: "This should be a period of democratic transition for the people of Cuba."

Castro's always strike me as charismatic. He just gives me the revolutionary kind of feeling, especially when he is in his military uniform.
External appearances aside, I am in favour of his resignation. Just two of the many reasons:
1. He is sick for quite some time already. He is 81 years old. It is time for him to past the baton. And it is great that he recognizes that.
2. He has a poor human rights record. Under his leadership, people against his regime can be killed, "counterrevolutionaries" can be imprisonsed without trial. There's more. What's new? Isn't this typical of dictators in general?

49 years.

Is Cuba ready for democracy?

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