Another Castro Becomes Cuba’s Leader
By ANITA SNOW,
Posted: 2008-02-24 16:56:31
Filed Under: World News
HAVANA (Feb. 24) – Cuba’s parliament named Raul Castro president on Sunday, ending nearly 50 years of rule by his brother Fidel but leaving the island’s communist system unshaken.
The succession was not likely to bring a major shift in the communist government policies that have put it at odds with the United States. But many Cubans were hoping it would open the door to modest economic reforms that might improve their daily lives.
In another sign that major change was not afoot, Raul Castro, 76, proposed he would consult with the ailing, 81-year-old Fidel on all major decisions of state, and parliament approved the proposal.
An old guard revolutionary leader Jose Ramon Machado was named No. 2 — the slot that Raul Castro had previously held. The 77-year-old fought alongside the Castro brothers in the Sierra Maestra during the late 1950s.
In his first speech as president, Raul Castro suggested that the Communist Party as a whole would take over the role long held by Fidel Castro, who formally remains its leader.
The new president said the nation’s sole legal party “is the directing and superior force of society and the state.”
“This conviction has particular importance when because the founding and forging generation of the revolution is disappearing,” Raul Castro added.
Sunday’s vote came five days after Fidel said he was retiring, capping a career in which he frustrated efforts by 10 U.S. presidents to oust him.
The U.S. has said the change from one Castro to another would not be significant, calling it a “transfer of authority and power from dictator to dictator light.”
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Sunday Cubans have a right “to choose their leaders in democratic elections” and urged the government “to begin a process of peaceful, democratic change by releasing all political prisoners, respecting human rights, and creating a clear pathway towards free and fair elections.”
Here is the full article.