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Thread: Castro Death Watch?

  1. #21
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    Default Re: Castro of Cuba Dead?

    Is Castro Dead?
    National Review Online ^ | 8-02-06 | Mario Loyola



    In Communist societies, the fall of a dictator is often marked by a public statement about the dictator’s failing health that (a) doesn’t make sense, and (b) is not delivered by the dictator himself. That’s what we saw on Monday night, when Cuban dictator Fidel Castro issued a “letter to the people” in which he explains that he had suffered intestinal bleeding due to stress, needed an operation, and would be in bed for several weeks. The missive was coldly Orwellian in how little it said about Castro — and in how much detail it gave about those who were now “temporarily” assuming power.


    The next day another Cuban official read a more entertaining letter in which Castro purports to explain (again in pure Newspeak) that because of the imminent threat from the United States, the details of his health are now a state secret. But there’s only one detail about Castro’s health that could possibly be a state secret: that he’s dead.


    Sure, he could be in a coma. But any student of Communism can say now with certainty that his reign is over. The only thing his heirs care about now is figuring out who really controls the estate — and who’s going to end up with it.


    Castro’s non-death declaration — essentially his last will and testament — leaves a series of key posts, and control of the state budget, to several senior leaders. But it only establishes the initial position of the players. The real game starts now, as the realities of internal power dynamics start making for unexpected conflicts and strange bedfellows. This unstable phase of the struggle for succession is highly characteristic in Communist regimes. It may last many weeks or months, and it is doubtful, if history is any guide, that all of the initial players will survive — literally. And in this case it is almost inconceivable that when the dust settles, we will still be looking at a Communist regime.


    So who are Castro’s heirs? The four big ones are:
    Raúl Castro: Currently defense minister, he is the anointed successor to his elder brother’s post. He is remembered as one of the most brutal of the revolution’s original leaders. Just a few months after the fall of strongman Fulgencio Batista he executed scores of former army and police officers by machine gun, disposing of them in a mass grave. More recently, he has turned the armed forces into a sprawling fiefdom with its own farms, resorts, and industrial holdings. He rarely speaks in public, is reputed to be a heavy drinker, rarely gives interviews, and is not particularly well-liked. The reality of his power base lies not in his popularity nor much less in the Castro’s will, but rather in the fact that the succession to him has been in train for decades. Men loyal to Raúl are in key positions of national, provincial, and municipal power throughout Cuba. Raúl still romanticizes the early years of the revolution as if they had happened yesterday. In fact, he would rather not talk about anything that happened after the vertiginous failure of his brother’s economic policies — in 1961. There is reason to hope that he has lost interest in the Revolution generally, aside from its perks, and may not have as much stomach for mass executions as he once did.


    Yearbook entry: Most likely to have the circumstances of his death explained by doctors.


    Felipe “Filipito” Pérez Roque: Currently foreign minister, Castro ascended him to his current role after many years as personal secretary. Only 41 years old, he is known as Castro’s attack dog, perhaps the most frothing castrista of the senior leaders. A lifetime of utter dependence on Castro might not have left him in the most favorable position as a potential successor. And as the foreign minister who helped make Cuba the bride of Hugo Chavez, and then watched as Cuba became yesterday’s thrill in the bordelo boliviariano, Filipito may have made lots of enemies along the way.
    Yearbook entry: Most likely to become chicharrón in time for New Year’s.
    Carlos Lage Dávila: Currently a vice president in Cuba, and by training a doctor, Lage is an example of the Revolution’s second-generation technocrat whiz-kids, who excel in extracting a few pennies from Castro’s poverty machine. He is held in high regard as an international negotiator, and appears to be well-liked in Europe. As Castro’s right hand during the “Special Period” that followed the end of Soviet subsidies in 1989, Lage spent a great deal of time developing a series of “mixed-economy” proposals almost all of which Castro ultimately rejected. Lage’s influence waned after that, but not greatly. The Cuban writer Carlos Alberto Montaner calls Lage the “pitiful manager of the madhouse.” Lage has shown a worrisome facility for being dominated by Castro, and on a recent trip to Venezuela, Lage groveled to the Bolivarian Revolution, saying that Cuba has two presidents: “Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez.” Nevertheless, his brains, experience, and reputation are his power base. Along with Francisco Soberón Valdés, head of the Central Bank, he is be viewed by many in and out of the regime as a needed technocrat.


    Yearbook entry: Least likely to be invited to family parties by future colleagues in Cuba’s first post-communist government.


    Ricardo Alarcón: Currently president of the National Assembly, Alarcón’s is the most subtle and impenetrable of Cuba’s current leaders. Elected head of the student federation in the early 1960s, he was the first major young technocrat produced by the Revolution. He quickly rose to become Cuba’s ambassador to the United Nations, and then held a variety of senior posts at the United Nations itself. Tapped briefly as foreign minister in the early 1990s, Castro appointed him to preside over the National Assembly less than a year later. There has always been speculation whether this was a demotion. The move is probably better understood as Castro eliminating a potential competitor who may have proven less than loyal to the Revolution during the Special Period — when Castro came closest to losing his grip on power. A tireless opponent of the embargo, Alarcón has argued forcefully for access to international commerce and microfinancing — things that many of Castro’s most inveterate enemies in Miami have advocated as ways to bring down the regime. He was not mentioned at all in Castro’s will — nor, as a legislator, should he have expected it. Apart from reputation, it is not clear what his power base really is: he spent most of the first three decades of the Revolution living in New York, and since returning to Cuba has held a largely ceremonial post. But if in the tumult of succession, something terrible should happen to Raúl without a supreme leader formally in place, the National Assembly would then decide who leads— as Alarcón once explained in an interview.


    Yearbook entry: Most likely to deal the Revolution its deathblow while chanting its hymns.


    It would be natural to expect that these four will rule as a committee under the nominal leadership of Raúl, but history suggests that such an arrangement will not be long-lived. Besides the internal power struggle that is now underway, there will be several sources of pressure on the new Cuban government. First, there are increasing signs that Cuba’s dissidents are gaining renewed strength — especially around Osvaldo Payá’s “Varela Project.” Second, independent pro-democracy groups such as Cuban Consensus and Roots of Hope have sprung to advocate principles of dialogue and mutual respect that enjoy increasingly vocal support both in Cuba and in the United States. Third, the U.S. is now more likely to craft a Cuba policy that serves some interest other than political expediency — for pretty much the first time in 50 years. And finally, and most important, Cubans are simply sick of Communism — all of them, all the way up the chain of command. How all this plays out is something that common Cubans will ultimately decide.


    Meanwhile, it is satisfying to see how perfectly and inevitably Castro’s life is coming to a Stalinesque end. It was on March 4, 1953, that the Kremlin announced that Joseph Stalin had suffered a stroke four days earlier, and that power would temporarily be held by a group of senior leaders. On March 6, it was announced that Stalin had died the night before. At his funeral, three of the new leaders made speeches, the order of the speakers marking the new order of precedence.


    Less than two weeks after that, the new premier (Malenkov, the most senior party leader after Stalin) was forced to resign his most important post. By the end of the year, the second (Beria, the head Stalin’s secret police) had been secretly arrested and executed. Two years after that, the third (Molotov, Stalin’s foreign minister) was named ambassador to Mongolia.


    Out of nowhere, Nikita Khruschev had emerged to assume complete control of the Soviet Union. And of course, one fine day many years later, it was announced (and not by him) that Khruschev had resigned all political offices, due to old age and deteriorating health.… And on and on went the history of the Soviet Union, until the day it finally died, when a group of would-be coup leaders explained in a press conference that Premier Gorbachev had been taken ill, and some reporters just started laughing.
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    Default Re: Castro of Cuba Dead?

    He's Dead Jim!


    ------------
    1 hour, 34 minutes ago
    HAVANA (Reuters) -Cuba said on Friday that acting President Raul Castro was running the country, but provided no new details on the condition of ailing leader Fidel Castro four days after he handed over power temporarily.

    "Raul is firmly at the helm of the nation and the armed forces," the ruling Communist Party newspaper said.
    Rejecting calls by President Bush for a transition to multi-party democracy, the newspaper said the situation in Cuba was totally calm.


    "The word transition does not exist in the vocabulary of Cubans here," Granma said.
    But with neither of the Castro brothers appearing in public, uncertainty over Cuba's political future was evident on the streets of Havana, where the hustle and bustle of more normal times was noticeably subdued.
    Many wondered when Raul, 75, would address the nation.
    The only sign of the younger Castro was a photo on Granma's front page of his arrest at age 22 following the near-suicidal assault led by his brother on the Moncada garrison in Santiago in 1953 with a story recounting his heroism.

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    Default Re: Castro of Cuba Dead?

    Cuba refuses entry to foreign journalists
    Monsters and Critics ^ | 03 August 2006



    Havana - Cuba refused entry to more than 150 foreign journalists trying to enter the country as tourists this week in order to report on the the illness of President Fidel Castro, diplomatic sources in Havana indicated Thursday.
    As in other countries, journalists need a work visa to report legally from Cuba.


    'Across the whole world there is currently great interest (in Cuba), but nowhere on the planet can a journalist report with a tourist visa,' said a representative of the International Press Centre (CPI), which relies on the Cuban Foreign Ministry to gain access to the country.


    The Havana source told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa that 'no journalists have been expelled nor was there a restrictive 'information ring' for foreign professionals. But the authorities do require journalists to request a temporary work visa if they wish to report from Cuba for certain periods, and to specify the dates and objectives of their presence on the island.
    Fidel Castro, aged 79, handed over power to his brother Raul on Monday, on a temporary basis, in order to undergo surgery for intestinal bleeding.


    The Cuban leader, who has ruled the communist country without interruption since leading a revolution in 1959, said he will need several weeks to recover.


    In this context, the Cuban government stressed Thursday that the leadership role of the Communist Party would continue.


    The party newspaper 'Granma' published a speech by Raul Castro on July 1, saying the party would be the only worthy successor of Fidel.


    Raul Castro has not spoken or been seen in public since being handed power Monday.
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    Default Re: Castro of Cuba Dead?

    So I uploaded a clip from Robot Chicken.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oGH-IppGpC8

    He loves it.

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    Default When Castro dies, they know the drill - Renamed

    When Castro dies, they know the drill
    The Miami Herald ^ | December 13, 2006 | OSCAR CORRAL



    Picture this: Cuban leader Fidel Castro dies, Cuba's military battles protesters on the streets, and frantic Cubans take to the seas. In South Florida, exiles board boats and head for Cuba to pick up desperate relatives -- or to help start an armed insurrection against the 47-year-old dictatorship.


    The Florida Straits get jammed with boat traffic on choppy seas. People drown. Chaos erupts.


    The U.S. government believes this could happen. On Tuesday federal, state and local authorities accelerated preparations for Castro's death -- starting a two-day drill on how authorities plan to respond to a mass exodus to Florida.


    As 400 emergency officials and others held the tabletop exercise at the Broward County Convention Center, Miami police sent an e-mail to reporters Tuesday afternoon warning of unsubstantiated rumors about Castro's ''possible death,'' and even Gov. Jeb Bush was alerted about the buzz in South Florida.


    (Excerpt) Read more at miami.com ...
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    Default Re: Castro of Cuba Dead?

    Dateline: Naples, Flordia

    Statehood for post-Castro Cuba?


    http://www.naplesnews.com/news/2006/...me_off/?latest

    Sound off: With Fidel Castro's imminent departure, it is time to offer the people of Cuba statehood

    Originally published — 8:00 a.m., December 10, 2006
    Updated — 12:09 p.m., December 10, 2006

    U.S.-Cuba: Look to history
    Editor, Daily News:

    There is a solution which will bring justice to those who fled Cuba, as well as for those who remain.

    The solution is found in the history of Cuba. In 1898 Cuba became a de facto colony of the United States. Even after 1902 when Cuba declared its independence, it was a protectorate of the U.S.

    Between 1902 and 1934, the U.S. intervened multiple times in Cuban affairs. Several U.S. presidents and congressional and military leaders recommended that Cuba become a state.

    Now, with Fidel Castro's imminent departure, it is time to offer the people of Cuba statehood.

    For the Cubans in Miami waiting for the chance to return to regain property, and for the mass of Cuban people living in an underdeveloped, marginal economy, this proposal would be overwhelmingly welcome.
    The benefits for American agricultural, manufacturing, mineral and oil interests are enormous. The potentials for rebuilding Havana will exceed expectations. The countries of Eastern Europe overcame the communist system; the people of Cuba can too.

    Were a plebiscite conducted in Cuba for becoming a state in the union, I believe it would be overwhelmingly adopted. The leadership of the United States should realize the influence statehood for Cuba would have on the countries of Central and South America.

    Now is the time for reconciliation, opportunity and demonstration of the good will and beneficence of the United States. The U.S. government should immediately offer and propose statehood for Cuba.

    H.H. Hermann, Naples

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    Default Re: Castro of Cuba Dead?

    Fidel Castro has terminal cancer of the stomach, colon or pancreas. Could be dead within a week.

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    Default Re: Castro of Cuba Dead?

    Funny, I was a kid... back many years ago in about... I think 4th grade, and the teach had us doing "World Predictions" for the class. I think it was some social studies or civics class and she was teaching something about world history.

    So, each of us had to stand up and make a prediction.

    I stood up and said, "Cuba will be the 52nd state". She asked me who would be the 51st and I said "Puerto Rico". She told me to sit down and shut up. lol
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    Default Re: Castro of Cuba Dead?

    Castro Near Death, U.S. Intelligence Chief Says
    Wasgington Post ^ | Friday, December 15, 2006 | Karen DeYoung



    Cuban President Fidel Castro is very ill and close to death, Director of National Intelligence John D. Negroponte said yesterday.


    "Everything we see indicates it will not be much longer . . . months, not years," Negroponte told a meeting of Washington Post editors and reporters.


    Castro relinquished power for the first time in 47 years after surgery July 31 for an undisclosed intestinal disorder. His brother, Raul, has assumed Castro's duties, but Cuban authorities have repeatedly insisted that he is recovering and eventually will return to office. He was last seen in an Oct. 28 video, shown on Cuban national television, in which he appeared gaunt and weak and warned that his convalescence would be lengthy.


    The Cuban leader did not show up as anticipated at a Dec. 2 national celebration in Havana scheduled to commemorate his 80th birthday and the 50th anniversary of the Cuban revolution. In a brief speech at the event, Raul Castro imparted no message from his brother but said that Cuba is willing to open negotiations with the United States "to settle the long U.S.-Cuba disagreement."


    In rejecting the offer this week, Assistant Secretary of State Thomas Shannon told reporters that the Bush administration will deal with Cuba's Communist government only when it shows a commitment to democracy. During the period of uncertainty under Raul Castro, Shannon said, "the regime has actually become harder and more orthodox and is not in a position to signal in any meaningful way what direction it will take post-Fidel."


    (Excerpt) Read more at washingtonpost.com ...
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    Default Re: Castro of Cuba Dead?

    Castro 'admitted to Spanish hospital'
    Daily Mail ^ | 1/03/07 | Daily Mail



    Fidel Castro was rumoured to be having hospital treatment in Spain.
    According to internet reports, the Cuban dictator is staying in a restricted wing of the Gregorio Maranon Hospital in Madrid.


    He is said to have arrived on the same plane as the Spanish surgeon who flew to Cuba last week to treat him at the request of the island's authorities.


    Jose Luis Garcia Sabrido, who works at Gregorio Maranon has denied reports that Castro, 80, is suffering from cancer.


    The surgeon said he was recovering well from stomach surgery to repair a problem with his digestive system.
    Details of Castro's health problems remain a closely-guarded secret although Cuban authorities have denied he has terminal cancer, as U.S. intelligence officials have claimed.


    Castro, who has not appeared in public since July, told the Cuban people his recovery was far from being a 'lost battle' in a New Year message on state television and radio.


    (Excerpt) Read more at dailymail.co.uk ...
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    Default Re: Castro of Cuba Dead?

    Report: Castro in Grave Condition After Failed Operations
    Tuesday , January 16, 2007




    MADRID, Spain — Ailing Cuban leader Fidel Castro is in "very grave" condition after three failed operations and complications from an intestinal infection known as diverticulitis, a Spanish newspaper said Tuesday.


    The newspaper El Pais cited two unnamed sources from the Gregorio Maranon hospital in the Spanish capital of Madrid. The facility employs surgeon Jose Luis Garcia Sabrido, who flew to Cuba in December to treat the 80-year-old Castro.


    In a report published on its Web site, El Pais said, "A grave infection in the large intestine, at least three failed operations and various complications have left the Cuban dictator, Fidel Castro, laid up with a very grave prognosis."


    Cuba has released little information on Castro's condition since he temporarily ceded power in July to his brother, Defense Minister Raul Castro, until he could recover from emergency intestinal surgery, prompting much speculation and rumor in the country and around the world.


    El Pais' report, which could not immediately be confirmed, was a rare detailed description from a major media outlet about Castro's condition.


    The U.S. government had speculated that Castro could suffer from cancer -- a supposition denied by Sabrido. Some U.S. doctors believed Castro was suffering from diverticular disease, which can cause bleeding in the lower intestine, especially in people over 60. In severe cases, emergency surgery may be required.


    That idea was supported by El Pais, which reported that its sources said Castro had suffered a bout of the disease.


    "In the summer, the Cuban leader bled abundantly in the intestine," El Pais reported. "This adversity led him to the operating table, according to the medical sources. His condition, moreover, was aggravated because the infection spread and caused peritonitis, the inflammation of the membrane that covers the digestive organs."


    A statement attributed to Castro was released on New Year's Eve saying his recovery was "far from being a lost battle."


    Cuban officials told visiting U.S. lawmakers last month that Castro does not have cancer or a terminal illness and will eventually return to public life, although it was not clear whether he would return to the same kind of absolute control as before.
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    Default Re: Castro Death Watch?

    A) Renamed thread to Castro Death Watch.
    B) Made thread sticky for now.
    C) Will un-sticky when the bastard is dead as a doorknob.
    D) Anyone finding any news about his death, post it here ASAP
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    Default Re: Castro Death Watch?

    Castro doctor stands by recovery outlook
    Reuters ^ | Tue Jan 16, 2007 6:58 PM IST



    MADRID (Reuters) - A Spanish doctor on Tuesday stood by his opinion that Fidel Castro is recovering from stomach surgery despite a newspaper report stating the Cuban leader is in a serious condition after a number of failed operations.


    Surgeon Jose Luis Garcia Sabrido, who examined Castro in December, has not changed his prognosis that the 80-year-old is slowly recovering after treatment, his secretary told Reuters.


    "Nothing has changed since he spoke in December, nothing at all," the secretary said when asked if the surgeon had changed his standpoint.

    (Excerpt) Read more at in.today.reuters.com ...
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    Default Re: Castro Death Watch?

    BBC: Castro 'worse after failed ops'
    BBC ^ | Tuesday, 16 January 2007, 12:32 GMT | BBC Staff



    Castro 'worse after failed ops'







    Castro has not been seen in public since surgery in July


    Ailing Cuban leader Fidel Castro is in a serious condition after three failed operations, a Spanish newspaper says.

    President Castro - who has temporarily handed power to his brother Raul - is suffering from a serious intestinal infection, the report in El Pais says.



    It cites medical sources at a Madrid hospital whose top surgeon travelled to Cuba in December to examine Mr Castro.


    In Cuba, there has been no public indication of any deterioration in Mr Castro's condition, correspondents say.


    On Monday, an unnamed Latin American diplomat told the Reuters news agency that "Fidel has problems with his stitches healing".
    He is reportedly being fed intravenously.


    There has been considerable speculation about the health of Cuba's 80-year-old leader since he underwent urgent intestinal surgery in July.


    He has not been seen in public since then, and in December he missed a massive military parade in Havana marking 50 years since his return from exile.


    In his New Year message, he said he was recovering slowly from the surgery, but said it would be a "long process".


    Infections


    The report in El Pais, if confirmed, is the first detailed account of Mr Castro's recent health problems.




    FAILED OPERATIONS

    Part of intestine removed - colon connected to rectum


    Cleaning and draining of infected area

    Prosthesis implanted


    Source: El Pais







    Diverticulitis



    Peritonitis








    The Cuban leader is said to be suffering from diverticulitis, a condition which causes bulges in the walls of the intestine that may become inflamed and infected.


    According to the Spanish publication, Mr Castro has had surgery on his large intestine three times.


    In the first operation - performed after he suffered intestinal bleeding and peritonitis - part of his large intestine was removed and his colon was connected to the rectum to avoid a colostomy.


    But this failed and faeces were released into Mr Castro's abdomen, causing another peritonitis.


    Mr Castro then underwent a second procedure to clean and drain the infected area. This also failed according to the sources quoted by El Pais, again because the wounds did not heal properly.



    A prosthesis was implanted during a third surgical intervention, but it did not work and had to be replaced.


    'No change'

    El Pais says that when a Spanish surgeon visited in December, Mr Castro had an abdominal wound which was releasing more than half a litre of fluids a day, causing a serious loss of nutrients.


    The surgeon, Jose Luis Garcia Sabrido, said at the time the Cuban president did not have cancer, as rumoured, and was making a steady recovery.


    On Tuesday, his secretary told the Reuters news agency the doctor had not changed his outlook.


    The authorities in Havana have said Mr Castro's health is a state secret, but have rejected speculation that he is suffering from cancer or a terminal illness.
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    Default Re: Castro Death Watch?

    Cuba's Castro 'able to eat again'
    BBC News OnLine ^ | Thursday, 8 February 2007 | staff writer

    Last Updated: Thursday, 8 February 2007, 17:35 GMT

    Cuba's Castro 'able to eat again'


    A stronger Mr Castro appeared
    defiant on a recent video


    Venezuela's ambassador to Cuba has said the country's ailing leader Fidel Castro has begun eating again as his health improves following surgery. Mr Castro, 80, has recently shown "significant improvement" in his health and his appearance, Ali Rodriguez said.

    However, he added that Cuba was ready for Mr Castro's eventual death.

    Mr Castro has not been seen in public since undergoing gastric surgery in July, prompting speculation that he has cancer or is terminally ill.

    Mr Castro's younger brother, Raul, has been acting as president since July.

    Appetite

    Fidel Castro was last shown in a video of a meeting with Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez, a close ally.

    That footage showed Mr Castro drinking orange juice and joking with the Venezuelan leader, who is a close ally.

    Speaking to Venezuelan state TV, Mr Rodriguez said the key to Mr Castro's apparent recovery of strength was his decision to resume eating.

    "The problem is that at first he was not eating food, but now he is eating food and that has helped him significantly."

    State secret

    Mr Castro's health is treated as a state secret in Cuba, and has been the subject of much speculation both at home and overseas.

    The most regular pronouncements on his health have come from Mr Chavez.

    Cuban authorities have denied the claims of US intelligence officials that he has terminal cancer but will only say that Mr Castro is recuperating satisfactorily.

    Last month, President Chavez denied a report in a Spanish newspaper that said Mr Castro's prognosis was very grave after three failed operations.

    A Spanish surgeon who travelled to Cuba last month to examine Mr Castro also said the report was "without foundation".
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    Raul Castro Presents Plans for Cuba's Future




    By Manuel Roig-Franzia
    Washington Post Foreign Service
    Thursday, July 26, 2007; 11:52 AM


    CAMAGUEY, Cuba, July 26 -- Interim President Raul Castro announced Thursday that his government will seek to open Cuba to more foreign investment, the clearest indication yet of his plans for ruling this island nation.

    Castro's ailing brother Fidel Castro did not appear at an event commemorating the opening shots of the Cuban Revolution in 1953, raising more questions about the state of his health.

    But his name was invoked repeatedly, both by his younger brother and by tens of thousands who gathered in this central Cuban city chanting "Viva Fidel" and waving small Cuban flags.

    Today is the 1-year anniversary of Fidel Castro's last public appearances. He made speeches last year in the cities of Bayamo and Holguin to commemorate his quixotic raid on the Moncada Barracks 54 years ago.

    Five days later, Fidel Castro underwent the first of several surgeries, temporarily relinquished power and disappeared from public view.

    During last year's speeches, "we could hardly even suspect what a hard blow was awaiting us," Raul Castro said in the opening line of his one--hour speech Thursday.

    The younger Castro, in his trademark tinted glasses and khaki military uniform, gave no specifics about his brother's condition, but said that "to the delight of our people he is taking on more and more intense and highly valuable activities, as evidenced by his reflections, which are published in the press."

    In recent months, Fidel Castro has written more than two dozen editorials for the Communist Party newspapers, Granma and Juventud Rebelde. In those pieces, he first revealed that he had undergone more than one surgery. He also mocked President Bush's European visit, saying the "Tyrant visited Tirana," and railed about using corn for ethanol rather than food.

    Cuba suffers from severe food shortages and imports much of its food. Raul Castro chastised his countrymen for failing to improve production of milk and said he is taking steps to end "absurd and inefficient" distribution of Cuban-produced milk, which he said has often been trucked across the island instead of being delivered locally.

    "To have more, we have to begin by producing more," Castro said.

    Castro also said his government is studying ways of increasing foreign investment without "repeating the mistakes of the past," a reference to the oft-heard complaint that U.S. and other foreign companies dominated Cuba before the 1959 victory of Castro's revolutionary forces.

    Castro said business alliances would be sought with "serious entrepreneurs, upon well-defined legal bases which preserve the role of the state and the predominance of socialist property." Cuba, he said, wants investment "of the kind that can provide us with capital, technology or markets."

    Angel Morel, a 56-year-old dairy manager who watched the speech wearing the same red t-shirt donned by thousands of Communist Party loyalists, said afterward that more foreign investment is a good idea "as long as those countries respect us."

    "It depends on what the other countries come up with," he said. "We'll have to see."

    During his remarks, Castro also repeated a common refrain here, blaming the U.S. trade embargo for many of Cuba's economic woes and accusing the Bush administration of a "hostile" stance toward Cuba. He said Cuba is increasing its military defenses and will hold a large-scale exercise in 2008.

    "By that time," he said, "the elections will also have taken place in the United States and the mandate of the current president of that country will have concluded along with his erratic and dangerous administration."

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...072600893.html

    Jag

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    Castro Resigns as President, State-Run Paper Reports
    Fidel Castro announced his resignation as president of Cuba and commander in chief of Cuba's military Tuesday, according to a letter published in the state-run newspaper, Granma.

    The resignation ends nearly a half-century of iron-fisted rule that inspired revolutionaries but frustrated 10 U.S. presidents.

    Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte said the U.S. embargo on Cuba will not be lifted in the near term.

    Castro revealed his plans without notice by publishing a letter in the middle of the night in state-run newspaper Granma.

    "I will not aspire to, nor will I accept the position of president of the council of state and commander in chief," Castro wrote. "I wish only to fight as a soldier of ideas. ... Perhaps my voice will be heard."

    President Bush said Castro's decision ought to spark "a democratic transition" for Cuba.

    "The international community should work with the Cuban people to begin to build institutions that are necessary for democracy and eventually this transition ought to lead to free and fair elections," Bush said Tuesday in Rwanda. "The United States will help the people of Cuba realize the blessings of liberty."

    Castro received treatment for intestinal problems two years ago and cited his "critical health condition" in the letter published Tuesday. He said "it would be a betrayal to my conscience to accept a responsibility requiring more mobility and dedication than I am physically able to offer."

    He also said he realized that he had a duty to prepare Cubans for his absence.

    "My wishes have always been to discharge my duties to my last breath," he said. "That's all I can offer."

    Cuba's leaders plan to elect a president within days. Castro's brother, Raúl, the country's defense minister, has been named publicly as his successor.

    Castro, 81, captured the world's attention at the age of 32, when he led a band of guerrillas who overthrew a corrupt dictatorship in 1959. He went on to become a thorn in Washington's side by embracing communism and cozying up to the Soviet Union.

    Castro reigned in Havana with an iron hand, defying a punishing U.S. economic embargo intended to dislodge him.

    Castro received treatment for intestinal problems in 2006 and transferred many powers to Raúl, who is generally seen as more pragmatic.

    Ordinary Cubans have wondered whether a change in power in Cuba will lead to lower food prices, higher salaries and more freedom to travel.

    In Miami, Florida, the news came as no surprise to Janisset Rivero, the executive director of Cuban Democratic Directorate, a group that works with dissidents in Cuba.

    "I think there have been preparations taking place for quite a while to assure the crowning of Raúl Castro," she said Tuesday morning. "It doesn't mean any change to the system. It doesn't mean there will be freedom for the Cubans. One big dictator is replacing the other.

    "It will be a big deal when political prisoners are released, when political parties are allowed to organize, when the country stops being ruled by a single party."

    Polarizing Figure


    To leftist revolutionaries around the world, Castro, with his ubiquitous military fatigues and fiery oratory, became a hero and patron. But for hundreds of thousands of his countrymen who fled into exile rather than live under his thumb, he became an object of intense hatred.

    Castro clung to a socialist economic model and one-party Communist rule, even after the Soviet Union disintegrated and most of the rest of the world concluded that state socialism was a bankrupt idea whose time had come and gone.

    "The most vulnerable part of his persona as a politician is precisely his continued defense of a totalitarian model that is the main cause of the hardships, the misery and the unhappiness of the Cuban people," said Elizardo Sanchez, a human rights advocate and critic of the Castro regime.

    And yet, his defenders in Cuba point to what they see as social progress made under Castro's revolution, including racial integration and universal education and health care. Instead of communism, they blame the U.S. embargo for the country's economic woes.

    "What Fidel achieved in the social order of this country has not been achieved by any poor nation, and even by many rich countries, despite being submitted to enormous pressures," said Jose Ramon Fernandez, a Cuban vice president.

    Castro's staying power was a source of irritation to Cuban exiles, who never imagined he would last so long.

    "We came here with a round-trip ticket ... because we thought the revolution was going to last days," said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the first Cuban-American elected to Congress, who came to Florida as a child. "And the days turned into weeks, and the weeks to months, and the months to years."

    The center of the exile community is Miami, where the Cuban American National Foundation became a powerful lobbying group courted by U.S. politicians. For more than four decades, efforts to lift the embargo against Cuba went nowhere, thanks to political pressure from the exile community.

    Although Raúl Castro has been named as his brother's successor, the departure of the charismatic leader whose identity became inseparable from his revolution raises questions of how long his system can survive without him.

    "What I think will happen is that we'll see, hopefully in the future, a new set of leaders come with new ideas. And that will be a hopeful day for the Cuban people," Sen. Mel Martinez, a Florida Republican and Cuban émigré, said on CNN's "American Morning."

    Road to Revolution


    Castro was born August 13, 1926, in Oriente Province in eastern Cuba. His father, Angel, was a wealthy landowner originally from Spain; his mother, Lina, had been a maid to Angel's first wife.

    Though he grew up in wealthy circumstances, Oriente was a poor area wracked by a peasant rebellion in Fidel Castro's formative years, which is thought to have influenced his political leanings.

    Educated in Jesuit schools, Castro earned a law degree from the University of Havana and offered free legal services to the poor. In 1952, at the age of 25, he ran for the Cuban parliament. But just before the election, the government was overthrown by Fulgencio Batista, who established a dictatorship that put Castro on the road to revolution.

    In 1953, Castro was one of about 150 fighters who attacked a military barracks in an unsuccessful attempt to overthrow Batista. The attack made him famous throughout Cuba, but it also earned him a prison sentence.

    He was released in 1955 and lived in exile in the United States and Mexico, where he organized a guerrilla group with Raúl Castro and Ernesto "Che" Guevara, an Argentine doctor-turned-revolutionary.

    The next year, 81 fighters landed in Cuba. Most were killed; the Castros, Guevara and other survivors fled into the Sierra Maestra Mountains along the southeastern coast, where they waged a guerrilla campaign against the Batista government that finally brought it down in 1959.

    Although the United States quickly recognized the new Cuban government, tensions arose after Castro began nationalizing factories and plantations owned by American companies. In January 1961, Washington broke off diplomatic ties.

    Less than four months later, a group of CIA-trained Cuban exiles, armed with U.S. weapons, landed at the Bay of Pigs in Cuba in a disastrous attempt to overthrow Castro.

    Two weeks after the Bay of Pigs, Castro formally declared Cuba a socialist state.

    In October 1962, Cuba became the focus of a tense world crisis after the Soviet Union installed nuclear weapons in the country. President Kennedy demanded that the Soviets remove them and quarantined the island, bringing the world to the brink of nuclear war.

    The Soviet Union backed down and removed the weapons.

    Through the years, Castro was the target of scores of CIA assassination attempts. He took delight in the fact none of them ever succeeded.

    "I have never been afraid of death. I have never been concerned about death," he once said.

    As for Castro's private life, he is believed to have fathered eight children with four women. His longtime companion, Dalia Soto del Valle, is the mother of five of his sons.

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    Bastard's gonna become the next Elvis.....

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