Update 11:03am. Cuban exiles in Miami react… “‘I hope this is the beginning of the end of the system, but we have to wait,’ said 35-year-old chemist Omar Fernandez, who left Cuba for the U.S. six years ago.”
Update 10:18am. State Dept “has indicated” the trade embargo with Cuba will remain in place.
Don’t ask me why I’m up, but I am. And the AP has just put out a news alert that many have been awaiting for years: Fidel Castro has announced he will be resigning.
Just a single line so far: “HAVANA (AP) — Official media quotes Fidel Castro saying he will not seek new presidential term.”
Time to reinstitute the Fidel Castro Death Watch?
Stand by for more…
Val Prieto at Babalu Blog posted the Castro zombie doll yesterday as the “perfect symbol of The Revolution.” Behold the Living Dead:
Reuters has details of Castro’s letter:
Ailing Cuban leader Fidel Castro said on Tuesday that he will not return to lead the country as president, retiring as head of state 49 years after he seized power in an armed revolution.
Castro, 81, said in a statement to the country that he would not seek a new presidential term when the National Assembly meets on February 24.
“To my dear compatriots, who gave me the immense honor in recent days of electing me a member of parliament … I communicate to you that I will not aspire to or accept — I repeat not aspire to or accept — the positions of President of Council of State and Commander in Chief,” Castro said in the statement published on the Web site of the Communist Party’s Granma newspaper.
The National Assembly or legislature is expected to nominate his brother and designated successor Raul Castro as president in place of Castro, who has not appeared in public for almost 19 months after being stricken by an undisclosed illness.
Don’t you love how Reuters cloaks its sympathy in journalistic neutrality:
A charismatic leader famous for his long speeches delivered in his green military fatigues, Castro is admired in the Third World for standing up to the United States but considered by his opponents a tyrant who suppressed freedom.
Who’s gonna organize the Tinseltown vigil for Hollywood’s favorite tyrant? From Humberto Fontova’s excellent book:
“Very selfless and moral. One of the world’s wisest men.” –Oliver Stone.
“Cuba’s Elvis.” –Dan Rather.
“Castro is at the same time the island, the men, the cattle, and the earth. He is the whole island.” –Jean Paul-Sartre.
“A dream come true!” –Naomi Campbell.
“If you believe in freedom, if you believe in justice, if you believe in democracy, you have no choice but to support Fidel Castro!” –Harry Belafonte.
“A genius.” –Jack Nicholson.
“Fidel, I love you. We both have beards. We both have power and want to use it for good purposes.” –Francis Ford Coppola.
“The first and greatest hero to appear in the world since the Second World War.” –Norman Mailer.
“Socialism works. I think Cuba might prove that.” –Chevy Chase.
“Castro is an extraordinary man. He is warm and understanding and seems extremely humane.” –Gina Lollobrigida.
Ziva at Babalu Blog has both the Spanish and English versions of Castro’s missive and writes simply: “Right now, at this late hour, my emotions are in turmoil.”
Castro’s parting words:
Fortunately, our Revolution can still count on cadres from the old guard and others who were very young in the early stages of the process. Some were very young, almost children, when they joined the fight on the mountains and later they have given glory to the country with their heroic performance and their internationalist missions. They have the authority and the experience to guarantee the replacement. There is also the intermediate generation which learned together with us the basics of the complex and almost unattainable art of organizing and leading a revolution.
The path will always be difficult and require from everyone’s intelligent effort. I distrust the seemingly easy path of apologetics or its antithesis the self-flagellation. We should always be prepared for the worst variable. The principle of being as prudent in success as steady in adversity cannot be forgotten. The adversary to be defeated is extremely strong; however, we have been able to keep it at bay for half a century.
This is not my farewell to you. My only wish is to fight as a soldier in the battle of ideas. I shall continue to write under the heading of ‘Reflections by comrade Fidel.’ It will be just another weapon you can count on. Perhaps my voice will be heard. I shall be careful.
Fidel Castro Ruz
February 18, 2008
“The day there is real change in Cuba – and not a carefully choreographed one – will be the day when every single Cuban on the island is allowed to know who Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet is. When every Cuban is allowed to know exactly and truthfully why he, and so many like him, have been rotting away in putrid jail cells for years.
For fifty years, the Cuban people have been physically, mentally, spiritually, ideologically, culturally and emotionally emasculated. Today’s news is just another snip in a surreptitiously planned and meticulously orchestrated surgery.”
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