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Fidel Castro Resigns 728

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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  • Thank God (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @09:54AM (#22474096)
    Now maybe I can get good cigars legally.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Thwomp ( 773873 )
      Yes, I've heard that American cigars have a tendency of exploding.
  • by Rob T Firefly ( 844560 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @09:55AM (#22474108) Homepage Journal
    The Bay of Pigs Invasion finally draws to a successful conclusion, a mere 47 years behind schedule.
    • by CFBMoo1 ( 157453 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @10:11AM (#22474274) Homepage
      The Bay of Pigs Invasion finally draws to a successful conclusion, a mere 47 years behind schedule.

      The only thing that ever beat Duke Nuke'm Forever in terms of a release date.
  • Ironic statement (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ConceptJunkie ( 24823 ) * on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @09:55AM (#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.

  • Idea (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bigsexyjoe ( 581721 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @10:03AM (#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?
    • Re:Idea (Score:5, Informative)

      by MrSteveSD ( 801820 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @10:40AM (#22474574)
      Exactly. When Castro met up with Che Guevara after the Guatemalan government was ousted, he wanted to know what happened. He couldn't believe that such a popular socialist (and democratic) government was overthrown. Guevara told him that the US had infiltrated the press and the unions and was spreading propaganda and stirring up trouble (which it was). Not surprisingly when Castro ousted the US-backed dictator Batista, he cracked down on the press and unions for fear of US infiltration. So the US taught an unfortunate lesson. i.e. If you have a government we don't like, and you have an open society, we will use that openness to attack and undermine your government.

      Now I don't approve of the Castro dictatorship, even though it is better than the US-backed Batista dictatorship. However, I acknowledge how difficult it would have been to have a socialist democracy in Cuba without the US subverting the whole thing very quickly. They almost succeeded quite recently in Venezuela during the failed coup in 2002 and they are also supporting opposition groups in Bolivia right now. The governments in Central and South America are really quite sick of the US trying to control them all of the time and there is a real backlash taking place.
  • So, does this mean (Score:5, Insightful)

    by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @10:03AM (#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 @10:04AM (#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.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      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
      • by iminplaya ( 723125 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @10:36AM (#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: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by dpilot ( 134227 )
          Black and White comparisons are SOOOOO much fun, especially when each side thinks it's White and the other side is Black.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Cuba is the final testament to the failure of communism.

        Cuba is the final testament of the failure of commercial interventionism - USA embargo is also included here
      • by orzetto ( 545509 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @11:21AM (#22475066)

        When have you been in Cuba? I was there in the middle '90s (the periodo especial, when the economy was at its worst), and found out that most scaremongering about Cuba was just that—scaremongering. The news blabbered about continuous power outages, with electricity being available only a few hours a day. Funny enough, Havana's lights were on all night long (not just our hotel, the whole city).

        Personally, I'd rather have the aforementioned fast food restaurants than hordes of military personnel with automatic weapons all over the place.

        Never seen this kind of military presence. The only military I saw were at Matanzas airport (duh, fair enough), and three grunts (including one gruntess) marching on a country road that we drove by.

        The crumbling buildings. The antiquated automobiles. The authoritarian presence.

        Funny, I saw no particularly crumbling buildings to speak of. No beggars either. People in Havana and elsewhere we travelled (from Pinár del Rio to Santa Clara) looked like they were not rich, but lived with dignity. Then again, a certain American subculture may consider any historically significant building as "crumbling"...

        The warning to tourists to stay in designated tourist zones.

        Well, I for one did not receive any such warning. In fact we could go around freely. My father saw a street concert improvised by some locals in Havana, where the police intervened—lo and behold—to pick up broken bottles of beer so people would not hurt themselves.

        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.

        Have you truly been there, to pass that kind of judgements?

        The Bloqueo is America's version of the Berlin Wall. They tell you that it's against the enemy, while in fact what its ideators conceived it as a cultural divide, so idea would spread from Cuba to the mainland. Guess what would happen if someone made a movie about 9/11 rescue workers who cannot afford medical care in the US and get cured in the free-for-all Cuban system...

        Sure, Cuba has its share of problems: corruption, impediments to free speech, same leadership for too much time. However, looking at how these problems were tackled in the countries recently "liberated" by the US, I doubt the Cubans will be any better off with a US-sponsored regime change.

    • Real or staged Cuba? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Shivetya ( 243324 )
      If you go now you will still be mostly confined to the "staged" Cuba, the Cuba presented to foreigners where the government needs to keep up appearances. If you want to see the real Cuba your going to either have to take risks or wait till the government collapses.

      Castro and his ilk did far more damage to Cuba than any corporate entity could manage, let alone get away with. His country started falling apart once it was no longer propped up by the Soviets. He is a study in the strength of personality and
      • Did he really? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by shis-ka-bob ( 595298 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @10:55AM (#22474794)
        I do not defend Castro's dictatorship, but for many he seems to have been a 'benevolent' dictator. This is something of an oxymoron, so what I mean is this: For many working class Cubans, Castro's government has established a strong safety net and an egalitarian society. There is no question that Castro was also ruthless in dealing with political adversaries and I would not have liked to live in such a closed society. But like any other government, his was neither purely good nor purely evil. What did he do well and what did he do poorly? He did work hard to address the needs of 'his' people. A controlled economy with a strong safety net does result in an economy with a lower average income, but how strongly does is affect the median income? Is it better to be an average Cuban or an average Mexican? Both seem to be willing to take great risks to get out. GDP per capita, the standard measure of a nation's economy, doesn't address income distribution: The average income of Bill Gates and 9 Slashdotters is simply 10% of Bill Gates income + round off error. I would like to see economic analysis of developing nations that is measured by percent of population living below a locally adjusted poverty line. Does anyone know of such a study?
        • 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%
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ahaile ( 147873 )
        Um, what?

        You can fly into Havana and get a 30-day tourist visa just like any country in the world. This includes US citizens. I am one, and I've done it. There's no "confinement" to a "staged" Cuba. And the only "risks" involved in doing something other than an all-inclusive vacation tour (it sounds like that was your route) are to your comfort zone. If you've never travelled in the third world, it might be a bit shocking. But no state security is going to come knocking on your door just because you w
  • irony? (Score:4, Funny)

    by DMoylan ( 65079 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @10:06AM (#22474230)
    is that the symbol for this story is a crown. or would that be goldy?
  • by BeeBeard ( 999187 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @10:22AM (#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].
  • by pembo13 ( 770295 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @10:25AM (#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 @10:27AM (#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?
  • nothing to see here (Score:5, Informative)

    by 0111 1110 ( 518466 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @10:32AM (#22474476)
    As someone who has actually lived in Cuba for more than a year, I thought I should inform some of you that, while it is of some historical importance, this news changes very little politically. His brother Raul is as much of a communist as Fidel. It is highly unlikely that any Cuban policies will change due to this development. I think what we are all waiting for is for both Fidel and Raul to actually die. When that happens there is at least some possibility of real change. And since Bush didn't change his position wrt cuba when Fidel 'temporarily' stepped down due to illness I doubt if he will do so now that the change has been made permanent.
  • by Datamonstar ( 845886 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @10:35AM (#22474508)
    ... that I found out about this on /. when I have CNN on right now? Half expected them to announce a new Firefox 'sploit.
  • Castro's bum rap (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JulianConrad ( 1223926 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @10:42AM (#22474608)
    For all his faults, in some ways Castro valued human life more than you'd expect from all the propaganda in the U.S. about "communism." He kept his people from starving in the 1990's after the collapse of the Soviet Union cut off a lot of Cuba's oil supply (unlike North Korea's Kim, who clearly doesn't give a crap about the starving people under his heel); at least Cubans don't have to eat dirt, literally, like their neighbors on Haiti. He's kept up a basic healthcare system and invested his country's meager resources into finding treatments for tropical poor people's diseases ignored by Western pharmaceutical companies. He had moved his country's population out of harm's way when the inevitable hurricanes rake across the island. And he even offered to send medical help to the U.S. for Hurricane Katrina's victims. So in some nontrivial respects he wasn't a totally bad guy.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by txmadman ( 538415 )
      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 qu
  • by PortHaven ( 242123 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @11:31AM (#22475176) Homepage
    Allow for tourism and trade, let the economic ramifications encourage a change of policy.

    (ie: people enjoying $$$ influx, will demand that it continues)
  • by DVega ( 211997 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @12:16PM (#22475680)
    Cuba health indicators [wikipedia.org]

    According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the chance of a Cuban child dying at five years of age or younger is 7 per 1000 live births in Cuba, while it's 8 per 1000 in the US. WHO reports that Cuban males have a life expectancy at birth of 75 years and females 79 years. In comparison, the US life expectancy at birth is 75 and 80 years for males and females, respectively. Cuba's infant mortality rate is better than the US with 5 deaths per thousand in Cuba versus 7 per thousand in the US. Cuba has nearly twice as many physicians as the U.S. -- 5.91 doctors per thousand people compared to 2.56 doctors per thousand, according to WHO.
  • by mapkinase ( 958129 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @12:43PM (#22476050) Homepage Journal
    Do not be Gorbachev, be Den Xiao Ping.

    Do not start with political freedoms, start with economic ones...

Thufir's a Harkonnen now.