[Patrck Appel] Castro unexpectedly resigning this morning is the big news of the day. Here is an excerpt from his statement:
To my dearest compatriots, who have recently honored me so much by electing me a member of the Parliament where so many agreements should be adopted of utmost importance to the destiny of our Revolution, I am saying that I will neither aspire to nor accept, I repeat, I will neither aspire to nor accept the positions of President of the State Council and Commander in Chief.
Judah at Headline Junky didn't think Castro would ever give up power voluntarily:
Granted, his brother Raul (no spring chicken at 76) is likely to succeed him, and Fidel might still play a significant background role as power broker, health permitting. But nothing about the man seemed to lend itself to a slow decline and gradual fade out. I always expected his successor would have to pry power from Fidel's dead hands. Instead, the hand has grown to frail to maintain its grip.
Otto Reich's two cents:
Fidel has not run the country since July of 2006 but as long as he is alive no Cuban will dare challenge his power. The average Cuban, as well as the leaders, are far too afraid of physical retaliation from Castro. And with good reason. In fact, I suspect many Cubans will see this resignation as a trick by the Castro brothers to see who attempts to fill Castro's shoes. On the other hand, the jockeying for position within the leadership, which has already begun, will intensify.
Matt Cooper thinks we should end the Cuba embargo:
The current U.S. position, enshrined in law no less, is that the Cuban government must commit to its own destruction before any easing can begin. That's not going to happen. Like it or not, the current Cuban government will, according to our own Defense Intelligence Agency, survive after Castro's death. We can either be a part of helping Cuba change or we can leave it to the Europeans or worse Hugo Chavez and the Chinese. It would have been nice if our embargo had brought down Castro and brought democracy to Cuba. It didn't work. It's time for a change.
Obama is first of out of the gate with comment:
If the Cuban leadership begins opening Cuba to meaningful democratic change, the United States must be prepared to begin taking steps to normalize relations and to ease the embargo of the last five decades. The freedom of the Cuban people is a cause that should bring the Americans together.
The image above is from June 1970. It depicts Cuban President Fidel Castro during a press conference in Havana. By AFP/Getty.