Ailing Cuban leader Fidel Castro said on Tuesday that he will not return to lead the communist country, retiring as president 49 years after he seized power in a revolution and became a central figure of the Cold War.This is an interesting development I guess. Of course on the one hand it can't be too surprising given his obvious failing health and the fact that Raul has been de facto president for over a year now. But on the other hand I really expected him to die in office. Who knows, maybe he already is dead and they just aren't telling anyone yet.
Castro, 81, who has not appeared in public since undergoing stomach surgery almost 19 months ago, said he would not seek a new term as president or leader of Cuba's armed forces when the National Assembly meets on Sunday.
"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 the Council of State and commander-in-chief," Castro said in a statement published in the Communist Party's Granma newspaper.
What I find most interesting in the story is the seeming lack of a reaction, or at least lack of a visible reaction, from the Cuban people. The story notes:
In a deserted Revolution Square, the site of many hours-long speeches by Castro to massive crowds, a lone soldier stood guard at government headquarters. The city was calm.It would seem that the transition has been gradual enough for the people to be able to accept it. I will be curious to see what Raul does once Fidel dies and is totally out of the picture.