Suspense Mounts in Cuba after Fidel Retires
Fidel Castro made public on Tuesday his decision not to seek reelection as Cuba’s president, opening the door to a new leadership when the parliament convenes on Sunday.
The man who has led his country since the triumph of the Cuban revolution in 1959 said he would continue to write his reflections on historic and current events —as he has done during his prolonged convalescence after intestinal surgery— offering his experience to the younger generations.
Castro’s decision paves the way for the newly elected 614-member legislature to choose a new president for a five-year term. It will also elect the 31-member Council of State, which has among its functions the authority to exercise most legislative power between sessions of the parliament.
While a major chapter in Cuban and world history comes to a close with Fidel’s announcement, it takes place on his and Cuba’s terms, to the chagrin of the Miami exile lobby and the Bush administration, who above all want to see upheaval and an end to the island’s socialist system.
Acting President Raul Castro and Vice President Carlos Lage are considered the leading candidates to replace Fidel who turns 82 in August.
In his letter published Tuesday morning, Fidel notes that the new government and legislature will have to adopt “many agreements of utmost importance to the destiny of our revolution.”
FROM EXPEDITIONARY TO PASSING THE BATON
When leaving Mexico for Cuba on the Granma yacht commanding 82 expeditionary comrades back in 1956, Fidel Castro said, “If we set out, we’ll arrive; If we arrive, we’ll enter; and If we enter we’ll triumph.”
What seemed like a fantasy back then came true and Fidel has weathered umpteen crises over the last half century to maintain his small country afloat against great adversity.
Repeated CIA assassination plots, the Bay of Pigs invasion, the October Missile Crisis, the disappearance of the Soviet Union (Cuba’s main ally through the 1980s), and the ongoing US blockade have all proved unable to turn back the clock to the pre-revolution years.
Now, one could add a fourth conditional conjunction to Fidel’s Granma prophecy back in 1956, illustrating the revolution’s success in building stable institutions allowing for a smooth passing of the baton: If we triumph we will persevere.
"Fortunately, our Revolution can still count on cadres from the old guard and others who were very young in the early stages of the process," wrote Fidel Castro Tuesday in his statement. "They have the authority and the experience to guarantee the replacement," he notes.