Tuesday, February 19, 2008

I hope I am wrong but ...

The calls and emails have started.

It’s been only a couple of hours since the news broke that after 18 months supposedly "recovering" from a serious illness, Fidel Castro is definitely standing down as president of the Council of State and as Commander in Chief.
But the calls are already coming in. And the emails. From friends and colleagues who have all heard the news, too – after all, it’s only mid-evening Down Under and news travels fast.

Finally, they say. How does it feel? Next year in Havana! Yes?

They obviously all think that this is the end of the Castro era and the beginning of a new, hopefully democratic chapter in Cuban history. They are happy for me. They are excited. And I am moved by their generosity.
I wish I could share their excitement at the news, but like all Cuban - inside and outside the island - I know that when it comes to Castro, nothing ever is what it seems. That just because the man who has ruled over his 11 million subjects for close to half a century says he is stepping down from some of his (many) official positions, it doesn’t mean it’s the end of the Castro era. No matter what the papers say.

Even the timing seems perverse – an announcement published in Granma, in the middle of the night, while most Cubans are asleep. Way to wake up, Havana!

And anyway, does this mean that Castro will step dwon from all his posts? Does it mean he will remain head of the all-powerful Communist Party? Will he really retire and stop meddling from the sidelines, as he has been doing for the past 18 months? And what does he mean when he says that this is not a “farewell”? Why hasn’t he endorsed his own designated successor, Raul, no spring chicken at 75, as the next Comandante? Or is the dictator so sick after all that death is imminent?

See? So many questions.

I hope my friends are right, though. I hope it’s the beginning of a new chapter. I hope I am wrong and they are right.

As they say on television, only time will tell.


Blogger Denny Hartford said...

I thought you might find some interest in a few thoughts on Castro's announced retirement posted on Vital Signs Blog, And Just Where has Castro's Conscience Been for the Last 50 Years?

With you in hoping for a truly free and prosperous Cuba,

Denny Hartford
Director, Vital Signs Ministries

12:33 am  
Anonymous Jarrett Martineau | NowPublic said...


I work as an Editor for NowPublic.com, a participatory news network where anyone can contribute to making the news.

We're looking for people with photos, videos, and responses to the news that Fidel Castro has announced his retirement.

The Associated Press is working with NowPublic to help get coverage from people affected by this story. We are asking people like you who might be close by for help. We are prepared to pay for photos and videos if you have good footage.

Here's a link to the story on our site: http://www.nowpublic.com/world/fidel-castro-officially-steps-down

Please email me if you've got content to add or know anyone else who might - and let me know if you have any questions.

Thanks and best,

Jarrett Martineau | Editor, NowPublic.com
"The News is NowPublic"
email: content@nowpublic.com

4:43 am  

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