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Fidel Castro steps aside – but ‘don’t expect radical change’

Fidel Castro steps aside – but ‘don’t expect radical change’


President George Bush should not expect any radical political change in Cuba in the wake of President Fidel Castro’s decision to give up the reins of power because of ill-health.{{more}}

This is according to Olga Chamero Trias, Cuban envoy to St Vincent and the Grenadines, who said that what people like Bush are anticipating, would not take place.

“We will change, but the change they want will never come,” she stated emphatically, as she declared her country’s feeling of sadness over Castro’s decision.

According to Trias, the revolution which Castro led almost 50 years ago, when he seized control of the island in a military coup, is institutionalized; and will, therefore, continue in the hearts of the people.

Bush is quoted as saying that the United States was ready to help “the people of Cuba realize the blessings of liberty.” According to the United States leader, Castro’s decision should be a period of democratic transition for the people of Cuba.

Castro, who has been a thorn in the flesh of ten US Presidents, surviving many documented assassination attempts, will continue to be part of the struggles of the people, giving leadership from the background, Trias said.

“Cuba is not in a post Fidel era,” she emphatically told those gathered at the business investment workshop which was hosted by the St Vincent and the Grenadines Chamber of Commerce, and included representatives from the Cuban Chambers of Commerce, Ministry of Foreign Trade and the electricity company.

Castro, 81, has not been seen in public since undergoing surgery in July 2006, and his 76-year-old brother Raul is widely tipped to replace him.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves says that Castro is a “towering figure politically in the 20th century, even into the 21st century.”

At a press conference last Tuesday, Dr Gonsalves said that Castro, having spent 49 years in power, has had “an extremely good innings.”

Dr Gonsalves, who has on numerous occasions expressed his admiration for the ailing communist leader, said that in his opinion, Cuba has had tremendous advancements under Castro’s leadership.

He also noted that while he is a “friend” of the United States of America, and President George Bush, he does not share Bush’s perspective on Cuba, in the face of Castro’s decision.

Dr Gonsalves reiterated Ambassador Trias’ point, saying that he believes that the Cuban Communist Party has its roots in the people, and will, therefore, see a smooth transition under its new leader.

He doesn’t expect any upheaval in Cuba as a result of Castro’s resignation.

As regards Cuba’s assistance to St Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr Gonsalves said that he is convinced that all will continue as before.

Cuba is one of this country’s key partners in the construction of the International Airport, which is expected to be completed by 2011. (KJ)