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Fidel Castro Ends 49 Years in Power

February 19, 2008 09:49 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Illness forced Cuban President Fidel Castro into semi-retirement 19 months ago. He declared Tuesday he will not seek another presidential term.

30-Second Summary

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Fidel Castro announced his departure from power in his regular column in Cuba’s official Communist Party newspaper Granma.

At 81, Castro is the longest surviving Cold War-era world leader. Two-thirds of Cubans have known no other president.

The news of his retirement has long been expected. Castro retreated from public life when he was taken ill a few hours after the Revolution Day celebrations on July 26, 2006.

Fidel’s brother and designated successor Raul became acting president on July 31, 2006, when Castro had to undergo surgery to stop intestinal bleeding. Castro has been through at least three operations, one of which apparently did not go well.

The announcement comes ahead of the National Assembly meeting on Feb. 24, which will choose a new head of state.

Blogger Edward Morrissey of Captain’s Quarters expressed the skepticism of many in writing that real change in Cuba was still a long way off.

“No one in the Cuban government will cross the Castros as long as Fidel lives, retired or not. Therefore, the government direction and policy won't change a bit, and the U.S. will face the same issues it always has with Fidel's rule,” wrote Morrissey.

However, others in America argue that the U.S. government has failed to capitalize on the new political climate in Havana.

Last week, the think tank Foreign Policy in Focus wrote, “The immediate post-Fidel moment has, for practical purposes, nearly come and gone, and the U.S. government remains as committed to its archaic and counterproductive Cuba policy as ever.”

Headline Links: Castro steps down

Reaction: ‘Cuba Should See Start of “Democratic Transition”’

Background: 19 months of ill health

Opinion & Analysis: Who makes the next move?

No real change expected soon
U.S. policy needs to adapt

Key Players: Fidel and Raul Castro

Fidel Castro
Raul Castro

Historical Context: The Cuban Revolution

Reference: Cuba

Related Topics: ‘Reflections by Comrade Fidel’

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