The reign of the Castros in Cuba will soon be over. According to Yahoo News yesterday, Raul Castro, the brother of Fidel Castro announced his retirement after five years in office. This means he will retire in 2018. Yahoo states, “The 81-year-old Castro also said he hopes to establish two-term limits and age caps for political offices including the presidency — an astonishing prospect for a nation led by Castro or his older brother Fidel since their 1959 revolution.
In his 35-minute speech, Castro hinted at other changes to the constitution, some so dramatic that they will have to be ratified by the Cuban people in a referendum. Still, he scotched any idea that the country would soon abandon socialism, saying he had not assumed the presidency in order to destroy Cuba's system.
Yahoo quotes him as saying, "I was not chosen to be president to restore capitalism to Cuba. I was elected to defend, maintain and continue to perfect socialism, not destroy it…Our greatest satisfaction is the tranquility and serene confidence we feel as we deliver to the new generations the responsibility to continue building socialism," he added.
Thestar.com quotes the elderly Castro as saying, “Cuba is at a moment of “historic transcendence,” Castro told lawmakers in speaking of his decision to name Diaz-Canel to the No. 2 job, replacing the 81-year-old Jose Ramon Machado Ventura, who fought alongside the Castros’ in the Sierra Maestra in the 1950s.”
Back in June Yahoo News reported, “Cuban President Raul Castro's daughter Mariela has said that her country's relations with the U.S. can normalize if President Barack Obama wins a second consecutive term… In an interview with CNN, when Mariela was asked about the possibilities for political reconciliation between the two Cold War adversaries, she said: "I believe that Obama is a fair man and Obama needs greater support to be able to take this decision."
Obama did relax some of the traveling rules governing visits to Cuba; however, the sanctions still are in place against the island.
Yahoo maintains, “Nevertheless, the promise of a change at the top could have deep significance for U.S.-Cuba ties. The wording of Washington's 51-year economic embargo on the island specifies that it cannot be lifted while a Castro is in charge.”
Abolishing the sanctions and recreating new ties can do wonders for the health and mental health of the people of Cuba. “Many Cuban exiled dreamed of the day when they could go home. According to PBS, "Calle Ocho," Little Havana, the epicenter of the Cuban exile community, was built on strong Cuban coffee, Cuban food, Cuban music and Cuban business sense. But mostly it was built on politics -- on the burning desire of a people to recapture what they remembered as "a lost paradise." "The dream of return, the dream of revenge, the dream of settling scores and turning back the clock has held a significant proportion of the diaspora in its thrall for nearly five decades. The impact of these sentiments has been felt in U.S. politics and policy -- logically during the Cold War, but also for more than a decade since its conclusion," writes Latin American expert Mark Falcoff.”