Change in Cuba: Fidel retires

All major news networks are reporting that President of Cuba Fidel Castro has resigned from his job. Fidel’s brother, Raúl, has been in charge for the last year and a half, and will continue in his role as Acting President until the National Assembly elects a successor to Fidel.

The news was first published on the website of the official state newspaper, Granma, at 3 am local time (0700 GMT). Mr Castro, who has ruled Cuba since 1959, first as Prime Minister and subsequently as President, said he would not “accept the position of President of the Council of State and Commander-in-Chief”.

After 49 years in power, Fidel Castro has resigned as leader of Cuba.

What this will bring for the future is yet to be known, but this will be an explosive catalyst.

Mr Castro’s resignation letter, in Spanish
Mr Castro’s resignation letter, in English

Raúl Castro frees prisoners

The BBC has reported that Acting President of Cuba Raúl Castro has freed four political dissidents held since 2003.

I’d just been reading Randall Monroe’s (xkcd guy) creation, LimerickDB (think Bash.org, but for limericks), and somehow came up with one. (I’d already started reading things in rhyme.)

Havana’s just released dissidents;
Without any major incidents;
Some people did say:
“Cuba gets its way”;
Well, I think it’s just coincidence.

(Coincidence that there’s been no incidents – probably because all four have been flown straight to Madrid, Spain. Interestingly the move was unilateral on the part of Cuba.)

Obama and Che Guevara

Now, I apologise for two posts in a row about Cuba and American politicians, but this – seen on at least two other blogs when tag-surfing – caught my eye.

Apparently Barack Obama’s supporters in Houston proudly fly a Castro Cuban flag with the picture of Che Guevara on it in their headquarters (see image).

Obama's supporters in Houston with Che Guevara Cuban flag
(Image: Fox News)

Now, I’m sure Senator Obama doesn’t approve of this, but surely he should know this is going on?

Fidel to McCain: “Stop lying”

Today’s top stories ahead of the Potomac primaries in Maryland and Virginia, as well as Washington D.C., include the claim by Cuban leader Fidel Castro that Republican Presidential front-runner, Senator John McCain, “lied” when he alleged Cubans were involved in Vietnam torture.

Sen McCain’s remarks in question, according to the BBC, were made during campaigning ahead of Florida’s primaries late last month, when he said: “There’s a person I want you to help me find when Cuba is free, and that’s that Cuban that came to the prison camps of North Vietnam and tortured and killed my friends. We’ll get him and bring him to justice, too.”

Castro today called McCain’s statements “accusations against internationalist Cuban revolutionaries” that were “completely unethical”. However, McCain hit back by saying that for him to respond to Castro was beneath him.

Now, bearing in mind the U.S. and Cuba’s long history of horrible relations, one wonders if the Democrats, especially Sens Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama, will make any mention about this or support Sen McCain against Fidel. I doubt either will, but maybe either one might see some political gain from doing so? Certainly, would it hurt them?

Polls have opened in the three states/districts mentioned earlier in today’s primaries. AP’s delegate projection gives Sen Clinton a very, very slim lead of just 23 delegates, but this count includes superdelegates (unpledged delegates) who could flip-flop either way at any time. We’ll know by the end of the day if Sen Obama has managed to build on his strong weekend showing.