Castro, 81, who has not appeared in public for almost 19 months, said in a statement to the country that he would not seek a new presidential term when the National Assembly meets on February 24.
"To my dear compatriots, who gave me the immense honor in recent days of electing me a member of parliament ... I communicate to you that I will not aspire to or accept -- I repeat not aspire to or accept -- the positions of President of Council of State and Commander in Chief," Castro said in the statement published on the Web site of the Communist Party's Granma newspaper.
It's a huge change and will undoubtedly cause shockwaves through the international community. I imagine rule now gets passed to Raul Castro?
Originally posted by StaggerLeeShocking. Unless this is like the old soviet system of "resigning" five months after you are dead.
Either way, hopefully this will lead to a better relationship with Cuba.
Not unless Congress changes legislation and we quit caving to the Cuban ep pat lobby. Throw in that Fidel wont shut up till he's dead and you don't have much of a recipe for change. However, I hope you are correct Stagger.
I think if better relations don't happen this year, it won't happen soon. I really think the Cuba thing is pretty much an "Only Nixon can go to China" scenario, where a Republican president will have to be the one to open things up. Seeing as Jr. is more of a business Republican (and the business community is dying to open things up with Cuba), I wouldn't be surprised if only a small gesture of goodwill was needed from Cuba in order to make it possible for things to change.
Nothing is going to change at all with Bush in office. Even though he's a lame-duck president, he isn't going to piss off the cuban exiles that helped get him Florida in the two elections. it's too bad, too, because while I don't like Castro or the Cuban government, it would be good to open up trade with Cuba. At least that's what the analyists are saying: they pointed out that the trade embargo has never worked to do anything but unite the cubans behind Castro. If the U.S. opens up trade relations with Cuba, maybe the people will see the difference in freedoms and will work a little faster to usher a change towards democracy. Besides, I have a real problem with how hypocritical the U.S. is in having an embargo with Cuba while they freely do business left & right with an even more repressive country in China.