What Does Castro's Resignation Mean?
Compiled by the DiversityInc staff. Date Posted: February 19, 2008
His iron-fisted Communist rule lasted 49 years, outlasting the Berlin
Wall and the Soviet Union, but today, 81-year-old Cuban leader Fidel
Castro announced his resignation
Now the inevitable questions will arise–what does it mean for Cuba?
For the moment, it's uncertain that much, if anything, will change. When
Castro became ill in 2006, he transferred much of his power to his
76-year-old brother, Raul, the country's defense minister. Castro
himself has said he still plans to be a powerful voice in Cuban politics.
With news that Castro's brother is expected to officially be named
president in the coming days, several Cuban groups said they expect
little change to occur in the country.
The Spanish-Cuban Foundation, a Madrid-based organization that assists
Cuban exiles, has adopted a wait-and-see attitude. "All scenarios are
open. Anything can happen. But as of today, nothing substantial has
changed in Cuba," spokesperson Orlando Fondevila told The Associated Press.
CNN.com reports that many Cuban Americans were shocked that the Castro
regime lasted as long as it did. "We came here with a roundtrip ticket …
because we thought the revolution was going to last days," Rep. lleana
Ros-Lehtinen, the first Cuban American elected to Congress, told
CNN.com. Ros-Lehtinen fled Cuba as a child for Florida. "And the days
turned into weeks, and the weeks to months, and the months to years."
For stories of immigrants achieving success in the United States,
including Rene Rodriguez of Babbalu.com who left Cuba as a child, read
the September issue of DiversityInc magazine.
Ros-Lehtinen has been one of the Castro's regime's most ardent critics,
going as far as appearing in the documentary "638 Ways to Kill Castro,"
advocating for his assassination.
President Bush commented that Castro's resignation could lead to the
start of a democratic transition occurring in the country. "The
international community should work with the Cuban people to begin to
build institutions that are necessary for democracy and eventually this
transition ought to lead to free and fair elections," CNN.com reports
Bush as saying upon hearing the news.
Sen. Mel Martinez of Florida added, "Today is not the ultimate day of
change; it's the beginning of a process hopefully that will lead to
change, to real change," reports CNN.com. "The initial change has to
come from the Cuban government."
The United States and Cuba have had no official diplomatic relationship
since the start of the Castro regime. Sens. Hillary Clinton, Barack
Obama and John McCain have not commented publicly about Castro's
resignation as of yet. But last August, Obama wrote an op-ed to the
Miami Herald that was critical of the Bush administration policy to
further tighten restrictions on relatives of Cubans who visit the island
or send money back home.
"Unfortunately, the Bush administration has made grand gestures to that
end while strategically blundering when it comes to actually advancing
the cause of freedom and democracy in Cuba," Obama said.