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Government News

Fidel Castro Resigns 728

Posted by samzenpus
from the end-of-an-era dept.
Smordnys s'regrepsA writes "Fidel Castro, the leader of the island nation of Cuba has declined the possibility of keeping his seat as President, after the February 24th National Assembly election. "I neither will aspire to nor will I accept — I repeat — I neither will aspire to nor will I accept, the position of president of the council of state and commander in chief," Castro wrote almost 19 months after a severe illness caused him to hand power temporarily to his brother Raul."
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Fidel Castro Resigns

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  • Ironic statement (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ConceptJunkie (24823) * on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @08:55AM (#22474118) Homepage Journal
    "I neither will aspire to nor will I accept -- I repeat -- I neither will aspire to nor will I accept, the position of president of the council of state and commander in chief"

    Funny... he said something very similar when he and his revolutionaries kicked out Batista in the first place.

  • by Lumpy (12016) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @09:00AM (#22474162) Homepage
    it dont matter. the USA will find another reason to hate Cuba and continue the embargo
  • Idea (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bigsexyjoe (581721) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @09:03AM (#22474200)
    The U.S. should make aggressive postures towards Cuba so that they are too scared to open their society and will look to a strong man for defense. Great idea, huh?
  • So, does this mean (Score:5, Insightful)

    by elrous0 (869638) * on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @09:03AM (#22474202)
    ...we can finally end this sad old Cold War charade and finally end the damn embargo?
  • by iBod (534920) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @09:04AM (#22474210)
    Before corporate America invades, and it's Wendys, Burger King, McDonalds and Starbucks on every street in Habana.

    For those of you that have never been to Cuba, it really is a unique place.

    Not for much longer, I fear.
  • by mbaGeek (1219224) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @09:04AM (#22474214) Homepage

    he can spend more time on /. - searching for the "stuff that matters" perspective ;-)

    this is news, but not really BIG news - Fidel has been sick for a long time and his brother ("Raul") is going to "take over" (although there will be an "election")

    "ah come on, we all knew this socialism thing wasn't going to work"
    Fidel Castro via the Simpsons

  • Re:Yawn... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 0xdeadbeef (28836) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @09:11AM (#22474278) Homepage Journal
    Good idea. While we're at it, let's pretend China doesn't exist, either. There shall be no discussion of any computer made there.
  • Re:Thank God (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 91degrees (207121) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @09:12AM (#22474286) Journal
    But there aren't a lot of French people living in Florida or any other swing states.
  • Re:Yawn... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tokul (682258) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @09:12AM (#22474288)

    Free the political prisoners.
    Are you sure that USA wouldn't object to such actions on its military base?
  • by Serge_Tomiko (1178965) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @09:14AM (#22474300)
    Personally, I'd rather have the aforementioned fast food restaurants than hordes of military personnel with automatic weapons all over the place.

    Cuba is only unique in that the destruction caused by communism is so apparent everywhere. The crumbling buildings. The antiquated automobiles. The authoritarian presence. The warning to tourists to stay in designated tourist zones. The many desperate women offering their daughters as prostitutes.

    If you have truly been there, I cannot understand how or why you would think that American chain restaurants are somehow worse than the abject human misery that dominates that island.

    Cuba is the final testament to the failure of communism. Freeing the country will do wonders to bring the truth to light, especially with the renewed faith in this system amongst the poor of Latin America.
  • Re:Yawn... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @09:18AM (#22474334)
    >Free the press. Allow criticism of the state. Allow the existance of other political parties. Hold free elections.

    Maybe a good idea for the US as well ?
    political prisoners: let's talk about guantanamo.
    press: in the hands of a few extremely rich people tied to one of the 2 parties.
    criticism of the state: you get lynched if you dare criticise the war in Iraq
    other political parties: 2 parties is NOT a democracy.
    free elections : see previous point.
  • Cuba is not real (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @09:20AM (#22474346)
    More like a commie disneyland.

    The government doesn't represent the wishes of the people anymore than Batista's nonsense.

    Cuba wasn't meant to be a quaint backwater for turistas to see vintage automobiles.
  • by BeeBeard (999187) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @09:22AM (#22474364)
    It looks as though Father Time will finally accomplish what exploding cigars, poison pills, and even a skin disease-causing fungus could not [guardian.co.uk].
  • Re:Cool (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @09:24AM (#22474392)
    No.

    Now they will complain that all their land and wealth they left behind in Cuba must be returned to them with interest. Suddenly all of them were billionaires and owned 1/5th the island. Etc...

    There is one thing that is universal in humanity, they all like to complain.
  • by pembo13 (770295) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @09:25AM (#22474398) Homepage
    It's often used as an argument as to why the USA shouldn't be bound to international laws that they agree to, or international organizations that they belong to. Seems only fair it should apply to Cuba as well.
  • Thorn in the Side? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gryle (933382) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @09:27AM (#22474416)
    From the article: "Castro...turned tiny Cuba into a thorn in the paw of the mighty capitalist United States."
    Bay of Pigs was really the fault of Kennedy. So other than the Cuban Missile Crisis, I don't recall Cuba doing anything significantly irritating. I don't think one incident qualifies Cuba for "thorn in paw" status. Perhaps someone more historically enlightened could explain this to me?
  • by yorugua (697900) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @09:32AM (#22474468)
    Not to be outdone, Fidel also tried to spread the "Blessings" of his kind of government with a strong fist and gun powder: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_history_of_Cuba#Cuban_Military_Action.27s_in_Angola_.281961-2002.29 [wikipedia.org] Maybe you'll love going to live to some of those places if they are still true to Fidel's ideals.
  • by jwietelmann (1220240) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @09:32AM (#22474472)
    You can't be elected by Florida without the Cuban-American vote. You won't get that vote by dropping the embargo on the nation those people fled.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @09:34AM (#22474498)
    We have a family friend who spent 20 years in prison for passing out anti-Castro fliers. The first 3 years he was in solitary because he refused to give up the location of their presses.

    Once he got out, he went to Spain, where his father's family was from, and then to Florida after a few years. He skipped the Christmas party this year because he had talked earlier to his mother. She had money, but there was no food to buy with it.

    What's real and what they let you see are totally different. After all, there are many, many documents by the Red Cross from WW2 which could be considered "proof" that the Holocaust is all made up... just like Global Warming. But you wouldn't bite on that, would you?

    Didn't think so.

    Now kindly shut the fuck up and go and watch your Michael Moore DVDs again.
  • by iminplaya (723125) <iminplaya.gmail@com> on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @09:36AM (#22474520) Journal
    Freeing the country will do wonders to bring the truth to light, especially with the renewed faith in this system amongst the poor of Latin America.

    Yes, they can look up to Haiti, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, El Salvidor, Honduras, Guatemala, etc as a testament to the triumph and prosperity of capitalism and democracy.
  • Re:News For Nerds (Score:4, Insightful)

    by eepok (545733) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @09:38AM (#22474556) Homepage
    Nerds are interested in many a subject. I am an education/tech nerd. I'm pretty damn sure there's quite a few politics and history nerds in here, too.

    Beyond that, why complain when genuine news hits the front page? Did you complain when Slashdot was holding up the internets when the towers fell?
  • Re:Cool (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gmack (197796) <gmack&innerfire,net> on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @09:41AM (#22474594) Homepage Journal
    It's important to note that, if it weren't for the embargo to blame all of Cuba's economic troubles on, Fidel Castro likely wouldn't have lasted nearly as long as he did.

    The political lobbying by the Cubans in Florida had the exact opposite affect from the one the wanted.
  • Re:News For Nerds (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sm62704 (957197) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @09:43AM (#22474624) Journal
    Although I agree with your point that US relations with Cuba isn't exactly news for nerds, news about Brad and Angelina isn't news for ANYBODY. They're just actors. Nothing thay doe will affect the world, let alone MY world. Castro resigning does, in fact, affect me.

  • by dpilot (134227) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @09:45AM (#22474660) Homepage Journal
    Black and White comparisons are SOOOOO much fun, especially when each side thinks it's White and the other side is Black.
  • Property (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Morosoph (693565) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @09:46AM (#22474676) Homepage Journal
    The US should push for Cuban property to be given (or sold) to the Cuban population.

    What international entreprise should have long written off can become an incentive for revolution, and an opportunity for trade on the part of the Cubans and the US.

    What would be an utter failure would be for Cubans to feel as the Russians do, that state oppression has been replaced with private sector oppression. Cubans deserve the property that their government has taken from then, as well as international entreprises, which would otherwise have created the opportunity for mutual benefit.

    If a write-off is politically untenable, then compensation is called for, but the Cubans should not pay for it.

  • go back to cuba (Score:2, Insightful)

    by circletimessquare (444983) <circletimessquar ... m ['l.c' in gap]> on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @10:07AM (#22474902) Homepage Journal
    1. ask a cuban to go on the internet

    2. ask them to write something critical of castro

    what happens next to said cuban?

    this is a superior place? because they don't have starbucks?

    so you prefer autocracy and censorship and police state over starbucks and mcdonalds?

    dude: your priorities stink
  • Re:Thank God (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Frank Battaglia (787673) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @10:10AM (#22474940)
    You know, the Bay of Pigs was really us (the U.S.) pulling a shitball stunt against them (Cuba), so it shouldn't really count in this comparison between what France has done and what Cuba has done.
  • Re:Thank God (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Guspaz (556486) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @10:11AM (#22474950)
    "international contempt"? They're strong allies of Canada. The primary source of international contempt towards Cuba comes from the US. My guess (and it's just a guess) is that the world looks more favourably on Cuba than the US due to foreign policy. Gitmo doesn't help.
  • by smitth1276 (832902) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @10:18AM (#22475018)
    People like that--the faux-intellectuals who engage in slashdot groupthink as a means of addressing their own intellectual insecurities--are the reasons I usually don't even get down into the comments. This one had too much potential to pass up... cognitive dissonance is always a good potential source of humor with these people.

    What to do? Make silly, baseless, incredibly ignorant claims that the US is pretty much the same as Cuba? Praise Castro, and maybe tie the Che Guevara poster hanging in my cubicle into the conversation? Talk about how Hugo Chavez is the best thing since Castro? Or maybe just act like a normal, intelligent, rational human being? Of course, the latter is to be avoided at all costs on slashdot, so that's unlikely.
  • Re:Property (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pnewhook (788591) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @10:25AM (#22475108)

    The US should push for Cuban property to be given (or sold) to the Cuban population.

    The US should stay the hell away from the internal affairs of other sovereign countries.

  • by aquatone282 (905179) * on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @10:27AM (#22475114)

    Now I see Starbucks at every corner, while many damn good, traditional Mom and Pop coffee shops are closing.

    Then you failed to convince your fellow citizens to patronize Mom and Pop and to boycott Starbucks, because Starbucks (and McDonalds and Burger King, etc etc) would not last long if they were not making a profit and you don't make a profit unless you have patrons.

    The fact that other peoples' choices are not your choices does not make them any less valid. When a group of people begins to believe they know what's best for every one else you end up with a Cuba, a North Korea, a Saudi Arabia, you get my drift.

    You are free to get your coffee where ever you want - and that includes making it for yourself. Nobody is forcing you or anyone else to get their coffee at Starbucks.

  • for a country, with a large poor population, going radically socialist, at the detriment to some freedoms, in order to force a large part of the population out of poverty. for example venezuela's hugo chavez is using petrodollar-funded socialism to aid venezuela's poor (those petrodollars, ironically, considering chavez's hot air about evil america, are coming from american soccer moms refilling their suvs)

    however, also consider the recent vote a few months back in venezuela [wikipedia.org]. chavez, to his credit, asked the venezuelan people if they would let him alter the constitution to dramatically extend his powers. rather than just take those powers by force, like we hear about time and time again in the world. the venezuelan people rejected his power grab, even in the poor parts of venezuela that enthusiastically support chavez otherwise. and chavez, again to his credit, accepted their decision

    however, in cuba, you have those authoritarian despotic powers that castro weild. does he have that right? no, he certainly does not. and i think if you asked the average cuban, who benefitted the most from the enforced socialist policies that castro enacted, why they couldn't also have more democratic freedoms, i think that cuban would probably have the same opinion of castro as those poor venezuelans do about chavez: yes to castro's policy, no to castro's absolute power

    so socialism for the poor: yes. despotic autocracy: no. in such a way, you can criticize castro without rejecting the policies that benefitted the cuban poor

    and btw, frankly, as an american, hugo chavez can talk about constant phantom cia threats on his life, how the evil imperialistic america is about to invade caracas at any moment, etc., blah blah blah. zzz. be as big a fearmongering demagogue gas bag as he wants, i don't care. as long as he uses petrodollars to aid venezuelan poor, and he doesn't abuse his powers and destroy venezuelan democracy, chavez has my support 100%
  • by Max_W (812974) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @10:29AM (#22475148)
    I have pity of you. You are a nation which was traumatized by the destruction of you pride, New York City. "I built the towers to the sky."

    You are passed the denial, and entered the anger phase.

    We understand it. But, please, understand too that we do not believe you anymore when you talk about "democracy", "change", etc. In our eyes you are not a carrier of democratic ideas anymore. You are just an angry traumatized country.

  • Re:Yawn... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by phayes (202222) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @10:32AM (#22475184) Homepage
    Of course... You've grown up enjoying the freedoms that cubans under castro don't have, so it's hard for you to recognize them.
  • by Dr. Evil (3501) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @10:34AM (#22475212)

    I don't think the U.S. could do it if they tried. The old money in the U.S. has too much political clout and personal interest in carving up Cuba for themselves. Cubans would be worse off than the Florida ghettos if the U.S. touched them.

    "According to geographer and Cuban Comandante Antonio Núñez Jiménez, 75% of Cuba's best arable land was owned by foreign individuals or foreign (mostly U.S.) companies. One of the first policies by the newly formed Cuban government was eliminating illiteracy and implementing land reforms. Land reform efforts helped to raise living standards by subdividing larger holdings into cooperatives. Comandante Sori Marin, nominally in charge of land reform, objected and fled and eventually was executed. Many other anti-Batista, but not Marxist, rebel leaders were forced in to exile, purged in executions, or in failed uprisings such as those of the Beaton brothers."

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuban_Revolution [wikipedia.org]

    Cuba needs communism. They should probably follow China's lead and open up the borders culturally and keep a tight stranglehold on passports, but the land is the property of the people, managed by the government.

    Poor Cuba. I hope they get a good leader. Else they're screwed.

  • Re:News For Nerds (Score:3, Insightful)

    by acvh (120205) <geek.mscigars@com> on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @10:41AM (#22475292) Homepage
    some of us like Cuban cigars.

    some of us want to visit Cuba, like everyone else in the world can.

    some of us would love an opportunity to live in a Caribbean island nation while working to bring their network infrastructure up to international standards.

  • by Mesa MIke (1193721) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @10:49AM (#22475384) Homepage
    > I don't recall wanting/asking for these
    > fast-food chains to open in my city.
    > Yet here they are. It wasn't the citizens
    > wanting them, it was just one company's
    > greed ("capitalism" you might say).

    If the citizens didn't want them there, they would
    probably go out of business for lack of customers.
    Apparently enough of the citizens want them there that they can keep their doors open.

    Or are these greedy companies forcing the citizenry to be customers at gunpoint?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @11:02AM (#22475522)
    Can someone explain why we embargo cuba while we can't trade fast enough with China? All I can think of is:

    "They're communists!"
    So is china.

    "Well they had soviet bases and nukes pointed at us once"
    China's got nukes now.

    "They rob their people of land and rights"
    So does china.

    "They don't allow Christianity"
    Neither does china.

    Maybe I'm not supposed to understand and I should just shut up and stop thinking... WTF still cares about Cuba anyway?
  • Re:Property (Score:2, Insightful)

    by sethstorm (512897) * on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @11:04AM (#22475540) Homepage

    The US should stay the hell away from the internal affairs of other sovereign countries.
    That does not mean they walk in ours, walk out with jobs, dump currency, buy votes as a nonvoting class, buy controlling chunks of US companies with their government funds, and have systemic problems with human rights that are far worse than the US(and have US companies that are complicit in these violations).

    That is when it becomes our issue. That is when we need to act to remove the interference, with no limit to the action required to remove it.
  • Re:Thank God (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Zibblsnrt (125875) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @11:10AM (#22475610)
    "Strong allies?" We're willing to engage in commerce with Cuba; that's a little different from treating them like a NATO member or something.
  • Re:Thank God (Score:5, Insightful)

    by C10H14N2 (640033) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @11:10AM (#22475616)
    They nationalized property without compensating international businesses.

    So did Mexico. So did Venezuela.

    Then they became Soviet puppets.

    Pretty much all of Europe east of Austria, a third of Latin America, half of Africa and most of Asia. We left the first reasonably well alone, but we fought direct wars all over the second and proxy wars everywhere else, but the worst we can muster with Cuba is, what, the Bay of Pigs? Hell, we killed Ghaddafi's daughter with a cruise missile and now we're toasting his health. What gives?

    Various acts like supporting leftist guerrillas or shooting down Cessnas with MiGs continued to earn them international contempt.

    We never removed diplomatic relations from Russia, we established it long ago and never rescinded it with China, even though we were fighting a half dozen proxy wars in Africa and Asia funded by both of them (think: Iran-Contra and the other war in Afghanistan, and a little tiff we call 'Vietnam' for starts), and we recently restored it with freakin' Libya--which is, from the American point of view at least, a terrorist sponsoring socialist dictatorship in the habit of not bringing down Cessnas, but, with Pan Am 103, like the Soviets with KAL007, bringing down 747s. But, then again, in their eyes, so are we, what with blasting Iranian Air 655 out of the sky, incinerating about 300 civilians in the process, for which we paid $60 million and refused to apologize. We milked Libya for $2 Billion and made them grovel in order get back on the party invite list.

    It is not as bad as the neo-cons paint it nor is it as good as the far left paints it.

    The "far left" is more in the habit of pointing out the cozy relationships neo-cons and democrats alike have been more than happy to have with regimes FAR more out of line than Cuba. I mean, honestly, the PRI, Pinochet and Noriega were best buddies but Castro was Satan incarnate? Are we kidding here? The point of it is we could AFFORD to isolate Cuba (or, say, Chile) for having dirty little socialist tendencies in order to make a shining example of our not allowing other forms of government in our hemisphere. When countries like Mexico or Venezuela pull the same thing, we wag our fingers in their general direction, shrug, and let the container ships and oil tankers roll into port on schedule. The "far left" looks at that and puzzles why it's A-Okay to blow your kids' college fund in Moscow, Beijing, Triploi, Tehran, Panama or Saigon--hell, you can lunch in Pyongyang with no trouble from the Feds and we're technically still at war with them--yet it's a crime worthy of imprisonment to smoke a stogie in Havana?
  • Re:Thank God (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mr. Underbridge (666784) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @11:17AM (#22475692)

    Remind me again... why is the U.S. mad at them? France has pulled worse shitball stunts against you than Cuba has.

    Well, agreeing to host Soviet missiles around 1960 would qualify as a seriously shitball stunt. Still, that was 40-some years ago. You want the real reason? It all started when Castro pissed off the mob who ran the casinos in Havana, who just happened to be Kennedy's buddies. Lately, there's a certain amount of face-saving that prevents normalization of relations with Castro, as well as the exceptionally strong agriculture lobby in the US which really doesn't want to see a flood of cheap rice on the US market.

    Nevermind France, how the shit have we gotten more friendly with *Qaddafi* in Libya? (replace with spelling of your choice).

  • by brunes69 (86786) <slashdot@NospAm.keirstead.org> on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @11:24AM (#22475798) Homepage
    The US is pretty much the only country that has a gripe with Cuba, and that is just because they are the only country who have ever had the guts to kick the US out.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @11:34AM (#22475924)
    Interesting that you only count the American deaths in Iraq. I guess the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis that have died 'receiving the gift of liberty' don't count.
  • Re:Property (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @11:38AM (#22475982)
    So when Germany was liquidating a portion of it's citizenry the US should have just minded its own business?
  • by mapkinase (958129) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @11:43AM (#22476050) Homepage Journal
    Do not be Gorbachev, be Den Xiao Ping.

    Do not start with political freedoms, start with economic ones...
  • Super-free haven? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nexus7 (2919) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @11:47AM (#22476108)
    No, I don't think the left argues that Cuba is some kind of paragon of liberty. They argue that the policy towards Cuba should be something like that towards China, one of engagement that will encourage them to move towards free market reforms, which will lead to individual freedoms.

    Stating that "the left" has some rosy idea about Cuba makes people say, well, nobody has the right answer, both sides are equally bad. That isn't the case.
  • Re:Thank God (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MrSteveSD (801820) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @11:53AM (#22476218)
    Don't, mistake official explanations with the real reasons. The US has being trying to control Cuba since the 1800s but the British Navy was an obstacle for a long time. John Quincy Adams noted that "the laws of political gravitation" would bring Cuba into the hands of the U.S.

    Eventually the US saw an opportunity when Cuba was striving for independence from Spain. The resistance in Cuba was wary of US offers of help because they were worried that once in, the US would never leave. However, the US gave assurances that would not be the case (e.g. Teller Amendment) and went in to help the resistance. Once the Spanish-controlled government was overthrown, the US (predictably) refused to leave. General Samuel B.M. Young expressed the opinion... "a lot of degenerates...no more capable of self-government than the savages of Africa,".

    Eventually US forces did leave, but they laid down conditions for withdrawal, known as the Platt Amendment. The Cubans had to agree to a US Naval Base (the now infamous Guantanamo Bay) and to never transfer any Cuban land to a power other than the US. The terms also allowed the US to intervene in Cuban affairs when the US deemed necessary. Under US pressure, the terms were even embedded into the Cuban constitution. Eventually this repressive and imperialistic amendment was repealed in 1934 under Roosevelt's "Good Neighbour policy" but the US refused to give up Guantanamo bay and it can only be removed with the consent of both parties (an unlikely occurrence to say the least). Of course, it was ok for the US to give up these powers in 1934 because Fulgencio Batista was already the de facto ruler of Cuba. With this US-backed dictator in place, the Platt Amendment wasn't really necessary.

    Eventually this nice little arrangement ended in 1959 when Castro toppled Batista. That is the source of US anger ever since. It is the anger of losing control of Cuba. All the rest of it is just excuses. It was the fear of invasion from the US (which was being planned) that drove Castro into an alliance with the USSR. Eventually there was an invasion attempt (bay of Pigs) but fortunately for Castro it was totally pathetic, possibly bordering on a US attempt at humour.

    Although there was no successful invasion, the US conducted a long terrorist campaign against Cuba including the destruction of crops and what we would regard today as Al Qaeda-style bombings. Right now the US is harbouring Possada Carriles who is widely believed to have been behind the bombing of a Cuban airliner in 1976 that killed 73 people. The US denies involvement in the bombing, but refuses to extradite him to Venezuela citing fears that he might be tortured. Since the US government does not believe that waterboarding is torture, I can only assume they fear he may be subjected to something worse than waterboarding.

    The US government will always claim that hostility towards Cuba is for one reason or another but the truth is that it wants control of Cuba and always has. Being a democracy is no guarantee that the US will leave you alone as the case of Venezuela amply demonstrates. The US teaches some unfortunate lessons. It teaches that if you have an open democracy, and you are not a government liked by the US (e.g. a socialist one), the US will use that openness against you, even going as far as coup attempts as was the case in Venezuela, Guatemala etc. If some future leader of Cuba does want to make a transition to democracy, he will no doubt have second thoughts after looking at US subversion in Venezuela and elsewhere.
  • by bobobobo (539853) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @12:07PM (#22476464)
    The original embargo was based on the privatization of primarily American business interests. The Cuban Government effectively stole billions from American investors. Obviously the affiliation with the Soviets did not help. So since the Soviet Union has dissolved, why does it prevail? The simple reason, that there are many anti-Castro ex-Cubans residing in Florida, and Florida as we all know is a swing state. It would be political suicide for anyone in power to suggest removing the embargo and pissing of a(significant enough) chunk of the Sunshine State. The idea being, to leave well enough alone. And then there is obviously political rhetoric involved, not wanting to appear soft on Communism/Socialism. There just isn't enough incentive there for the right or left, to stir the pot.
  • Re:Property (Score:2, Insightful)

    by J Cardella (1154607) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @12:09PM (#22476482)
    I could not agree more. US Foreign Aid does more harm than good, and should be stopped until proper oversight can be assured. http://www.heritage.org/Research/Features/Issues/issuearea/ForeignAid.cfm [heritage.org]
  • Re:Property (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pnewhook (788591) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @12:17PM (#22476622)

    The US can, should, and (more often than most other countries) does take useful measures to improve the human condition - humanitarian projects, encouraging democratic political reform, standing up for human rights.

    Do you have any idea what your government does with its foreign policy?? How about assasinating democratically elected leaders (Iran, most of central America, etc), providing weapons to terrorists (to the Taliban in Afghanistan against USSR, Iran against Iraq, Iraq against Iran, etc), setting up puppet governments (Panama, Cuba, etc), and keeping detainees on foreign soil for years without trial or any charges (Guantanamo, facilities in Afghanistan, Iraq, etc). Shall I go on?

    In short - clean up your own crap before you go finger pointing at other countries.

  • by txmadman (538415) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @12:19PM (#22476658)
    Well, explain all that to the hundreds of Cubans who annually try to float on inner tubes to Key West. If they fail, they die. If they are caught by this humanitarian's police or military, they go to jail.

    In spite of all our debates about whether or not Castro is good/bad/indifferent, I look to the fact that people are willing to die or go to prison as a reliable indicator of the quality of life there.

    I might agree that he is not as bad as Kim Jong-il, but that is hardly a compliment, is it?

    And why the qualifier quotes on "communism", anyway? Castro is perfectly comfortable saying he is a communist, why can't you admit he is?
  • Re:Thank God (Score:5, Insightful)

    by C10H14N2 (640033) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @12:33PM (#22476832)
    Like, say, killing the people that try to escape it?

    Mass political murder was good enough for Pinochet, the PRI and Noriega -- and they were all good enough for us...and only one of those three was even vaguely socialist.
  • Re:Thank God (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TheSpoom (715771) * <slashdot@NOSpAM.uberm00.net> on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @12:54PM (#22477210) Homepage Journal
    No, the fact that Canada decided to ignore the US's diplomatic pressure means we aren't a subsidiary of the US, and thank God for that.
  • by The One and Only (691315) * <[ten.hclewlihp] [ta] [lihp]> on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @12:58PM (#22477268) Homepage

    Cubans would be worse off than the Florida ghettos if the U.S. touched them.

    They already are.

    Cuba needs communism.

    They already have it.

  • by ahaile (147873) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @01:17PM (#22477586)
    I've lived in Cuba for well over a year, all combined, as my wife is a Cuban researcher. A lot of what you're writing here is just plain FUD. Let me see if I can clear a bit up:

    Mostly likely, as a tourist, you stayed in tourist areas. None of the places where you would need a resident's card to get into, which, conveniently, are these unkept slums of poverty.


    There are NO parts of Cuba where foreigners are not allowed. Just because you may have chosen to stay in the tourist zones doesn't mean you had to. There are no entry checks for residency cards (carnets) to get into the slums. You want to go there, fine, go there. I lived in Cerro, one of Havana's "zonas marginales" -- marginal, aka impoverished areas -- for over a year. The opposite, however, is true: there are places in Cuba, like the main tourist beaches of Varadero, where foreigners are allowed but Cubans without tourist jobs are excluded.

    Internet access alone is enough to get the common Cuban without the luxury of being in the designated front-of-stage areas thrown in jail.


    Yes and no. It's true that internet access is shamefully restricted in Cuba. So Cubans do what they've always done, they rely on friends and family to get around the barriers. Those who have access (like I did, though it cost me plenty) got to play mailman: every time I dialed in, I had several messages to send out and several to receive for the people I knew.

    A few blocks down the road you probably had a grocery store filled with just about every item you could want, like in any industrialized nation's grocery store.


    Nope. I did most of my shopping at the agropecuario, the same farmer's market that Cubans use. Except for rum. Domestic (peso) rum was awful. And the export-quality (dollar) rum was sooooo good.

    If you got sick you probably had an excellent hospital waiting for you with private rooms and the skilled doctors and the latest in technologies, not the crumbling biological dumps where they can barely keep the bathrooms clean and the only anti-biotic they have is pennicillin.


    Wow that's off base. I caught an eye infection while in Cuba and had to have minor eye surgery. I didn't go to the tourist hospital (Clinica Cira Garcia, the one in Michael Moore's film), I went to the national one. The doctor was very professional, the clinic was clean, the medications were current. After I came back to the US I had follow-up with a local doctor and he concurred with the treatment I'd been given. Official cost to me: 0. Actual cost to me: $20. Being an American, with the resources I had and knowing what it would have cost me in the US, I just couldn't leave without giving the doctor something. So I gave her $20. She was embarrassed but took it. My Cuban hosts understood but thought I should have given only $10.
  • Re:Property (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MightyMartian (840721) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @01:18PM (#22477608) Journal
    How do we know whether Cubans are happy or not. A shitload of them have, over the last half century, have done everything from steal airplanes to put inflatables on their cars to try to get to Florida. In Cuba itself, if you're too vocal, you're chucked in jail and officially declared a US patsy. There are no free elections and no free press. The standard of living is in the shits, their isn't enough electricity, and the only the way country seems to be functioning now is to turn itself into a client state of China, just as it had been of the USSR for decades.
  • Re:Property (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Wandering Wombat (531833) <mightyjalapeno.gmail@com> on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @01:29PM (#22477756) Homepage Journal
    ... because I've talked to them?

    But you're right, you have no reason to believe me. Having two sides to a story just muddles things up.

    But I have to ask.... do you need electricity to have a good life? Or do you, maybe, just need a different routine? They don't watch much TV down there. The families I talked to all spent time with eachother. They played sports. They did laundry with hand-operated machines, or at laundromats. They danced to music on the radio. Above all, they were smiling through all these "hardships" and in spite of their poor "standard of living".
  • Re:Property (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Guppy06 (410832) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @01:31PM (#22477792)
    "The US should stay the hell away from the internal affairs of other sovereign countries."

    If this was south Asia or sub-Saharan Africa, you might have a point, but when it comes to something only 90 miles away from our shores, such "international" issues can quickly become domestic. Either we make sure that other governments in the region are stable and tenable, or we deal with yet another wave of tens (or even hundreds) of thousands of refugees washing up in south Florida.

    Like it or not, this is yet another matter in th Caribbean that either the State Department or the Homeland Security Department has to deal with, and I'd wager you'd prefer the former.
  • Re:Idea (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Radical Moderate (563286) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @01:48PM (#22478026)
    Some might argue that an evil bastard that provides education, food, and health care to the entire population is better than one who sells out to foreign business interests and does nothing for the people. Castro is far from being a saint, but if I had to choose to be a peasant under Castro or Batista's regime, I know which one I'd pick.
  • Re:Thank God (Score:5, Insightful)

    by C10H14N2 (640033) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @01:54PM (#22478104)
    Nice that you brought that up. So is not the killing part that disturbs you, is the "reason" part. So, if the "excuse" is just right, then is ok.

    Back at 'ya. What's so disturbing about all the various atrocities that have been committed by dozens of countries that are apparently a-okay, even while at the height of executing said atrocities, yet when performed on a far lesser scale (and often factually questionable to any degree) make Cuba supremely evil and worthy of banning American citizens effectively from so much as setting foot there? You could travel to and spend money in the Soviet Union during the cold war, we had full diplomatic relations the entire time, and they were "the Evil Empire" supposedly hell-bent on the complete annihilation of our entire way of life under hair-trigger threat of nuclear hellfire sufficient to wipe out every city with a population exceeding fifty, yet some old coot with a cigar and a fleet of '56 Chevys is worthy of total blockade? Hell, the worst he's done is let the Russians plant three nukes on his island. For godssakes, FRANCE has more firepower pointed at us than every commie in the Western Hemisphere combined.

    Come on...
  • Re:Property (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HiThere (15173) <charleshixsnNO@SPAMearthlink.net> on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @02:05PM (#22478278)
    That only requires changes in our local laws, not that we interfere inside their country.
  • Re:Property (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HiThere (15173) <charleshixsnNO@SPAMearthlink.net> on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @02:11PM (#22478372)
    It *would* have become a free, democratic nation if we hadn't originally spruned Castro's overtures of friendship. Then he was, essentially, forced to turn to either Russia or China...and Russia offered him more. (Remember Castro was a graduate of, I believe, Harvard. He *expected* to normalize relations with the US quickly. But he was also a pragmatist, and looked for support where he could get it after we rebuffed him.)

    As to Batista's friends who held that property...they deserved much worse. Land grants by a dictator are a poor basis for claims to recompense when someone else comes to power. (Is Castro a dictator? I don't know. Definitely not to the same extent that Batista was. Batista was vile.

  • by pnewhook (788591) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @02:13PM (#22478410)

    What exactly is illegal here that's legal in Cuba?

    Visiting Cuba?

  • by Solandri (704621) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @02:14PM (#22478416)

    No, I don't think the left argues that Cuba is some kind of paragon of liberty. They argue that the policy towards Cuba should be something like that towards China, one of engagement that will encourage them to move towards free market reforms, which will lead to individual freedoms.
    Prior to the 1970s, U.S. policy to fight Communism was one of isolationism. After Nixon more or less normalized relations with China, the policy has been to encourage free market reforms within them.

    Cuba missed the boat because there's a politically active ex-Cuban population in Florida which mostly opposes rescinding the embargo. Florida is the 4th most populous state, which due to the Electoral College system has about 10% of the winner-takes-all votes needed to win the Presidency. The ex-Cuban population is influential enough over that vote that neither political party wants to cross them. And so the embargo stays. If the Cuban exiles had settled in, say, Louisiana instead of Florida, the embargo probably would've been dropped in the '70s or '80s

    One of their sticking points has been no normalization of relations with Cuba while Castro is in power. So it'll be interesting to see how his resignation plays out with the politics there. Regardless, most of the hardcore anti-Communist faction (those involved with the Bay of Pigs and directly fighting Castro) is in or approaching their 70s now, and will start dying of old age soon. So I would expect a major shift in policy towards Cuba within the next 10-20 years regardless of what happens in Cuba. Changing a person's attitude about something is a lot easier if they were only taught it by their parents, as opposed to having friends and brothers killed in the line of battle over it.

  • au contraire (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdotNO@SPAMhackish.org> on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @03:20PM (#22479462)
    As the recent independence of Kosovo (a few years following the 1999 US-led bombing campaign) shows, the U.S. is still the world's policeman.
  • Re:Thank God (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Doctor Faustus (127273) <Slashdot@nOspAM.WilliamCleveland.Org> on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @04:19PM (#22480282) Homepage
    Well, agreeing to host Soviet missiles around 1960 would qualify as a seriously shitball stunt.
    But did it really matter? By 1958, the Soviets had ballistic missile submarines [wikipedia.org] that could launch against the U.S. with just as short warning as anything coming from Cuba.
  • Re:Property (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Admiral Ag (829695) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @04:20PM (#22480290)
    I can't believe you are saying this with a straight face. Sure, many Cubans have attempted to leave Cuba for the US. That's because Cuba is comparatively poorer than the US (and is the subject of an economic embargo to boot). But people who bring up Cubans trying to leave Cuba seem to conveniently forget the never ending tidal wave of illegal economic migrants from supposedly "free" countries like Mexico and the rest of Latin America, who far outnumber the Cuban migrants. People from poor countries will try to get into rich countries. There's nothing interesting or controversial about that.

    The Cubans do a pretty decent job with not many resources, and they still find the means to send a bunch of doctors to help even poorer people. I'd rather be poor in Cuba than in any other Latin American country. At least in Cuba someone would be looking out for me when I couldn't help myself.

    What many in the US cannot understand is that most Cubans genuinely like Fidel. They don't necessarily look at the US and wonder why they aren't like them, but rather look at countries like Mexico, Jamaica and Colombia and thank God that they aren't like them.
  • Re:Property (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Grygus (1143095) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @07:23PM (#22482666)
    China's not communist despite the trappings of a communist regime. They are extremely capitalistic. This doesn't necessarily change your point because it is still a potential economic threat if you choose to view it in such a light, but I think it's an important distinction.
  • by Descalzo (898339) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @09:49PM (#22483860) Journal

    But people who bring up Cubans trying to leave Cuba seem to conveniently forget the never ending tidal wave of illegal economic migrants from supposedly "free" countries like Mexico and the rest of Latin America, who far outnumber the Cuban migrants. People from poor countries will try to get into rich countries. There's nothing interesting or controversial about that.
    One important difference is that the Mexican government is actively facilitating flight from its country to the USA. Cuba is trying to stop it. Mexicans are indeed "free"-er than Cubans: free to leave.
    Another important difference is that it is much easier to get from Mexico to the USA than it is from Cuba to the USA.

    What many in the US cannot understand is that most Cubans genuinely like Fidel.
    Every Cuban I've ever talked to about Castro and the communist government of Cuba is filled with hatred. These people are not happy with anything about their country's government. Mexicans don't have such hatred in their speech about their president. They admit the Mexican government is corrupt, but they don't talk like Cubans do about government. I figure if it were just economic 'pull' from the US that brought Cubans here then we wouldn't have this huge disparity.
    (Let me acknowledge here that my poll is far from scientific. In fact since every Cuban I've spoken to has been living in the USA voluntarily, I'd guess we wouldn't find too many that want to be in Cuba)
  • Re:Property (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cas2000 (148703) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @10:49PM (#22484206)
    > Kennedy [...] took care of the Missile problem with the USSR directly by more or less
    > saying if you place nukes there we will consider it an act of war and respond in kind


    actually, it was more like Kennedy said "OK, you've called our bluff. We'll remove our missiles from Turkey like you want, and you give up on putting yours in Cuba. And we'll get our newspapers to report it as if we forced you to back down, and you can get your newspapers to do the same for you".

    >But when Castro was in power, he was a threat to the security of the US

    don't be ridiculous. Castro was never any kind of a threat to U.S. security. He's just an embarrassment because he kicked out Batista and the other U.S.-backed gangsters in the fifties and took away the playground where U.S. Senators and Congressmen and businessmen could mingle with Mafia figures outside of the public eye. He's also an embarrassment because Cuba actually functions reasonably well as a socialist state, even despite the U.S. trade embargoes and other sanctions, and the assassination attempts and the various failed invasions. Castro never broke no matter what they did to him and to Cuba....that, they'll never forgive.

    Worst of all, Castro committed the crime of demonstrating that a South American state could exist without the malicious influence of the U.S. propping up dictators, backing fascists, and overthrowing democratically-elected socialist or socialist-leaning governments as they've done repeatedly for many decades - e.g. in Chile in the 70s or Nicaragua in the 80s, and as they'd like to do to Chavez now.

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