Tuesday, February 19, 2008

With Castro's Resignation, What's in Store for Cuba?

This morning, Fidel Castro, President of the Cuba, announced that he would step down as the nation's leader, leaving his brother, Raul Castro, who has led the country recently as a result of Fidel's deteriorating health, to resume power. The National Assembly, which will meet Sunday, will confirm the decision. Though Fidel has stepped down from his post, one that greatly altered Cuba's position on the world stage, he vows to continue lauding the principles of socialism through writing. His political legacy will live on in many of Cuba's citizens as well as other Latin American statesmen and budding politicians he has inspired. Though considerably a questionable system of governance, Fidel's dictatorship is definitely one worth continued discussion and analysis.

However, as many Cuban ex-patriots, present citizens, and even United States-based diplomats watch on in anticipation of the new Cuba, I wonder what change, if any, will occur? The nation already heavily relies on tourism as a source of revenue, having opened its doors to European, Latin American, and even Canadian vacation goers, but will the United States be next? Will Cuba more justly sentence its political dissidents? What about economic sanctions? Will the U.S. no longer consider Cuba its political gadfly?

And for people of color, particularly of indigenous and African descent in Cuba, what will this change mean for them? Will the promises of racial equality made during the start of the revolutions in Cuba, the first being the overthrow of Spanish power, ever be realized in a tangible way? Though legislation in Cuba is colorblind, the economic system that remains continues to hurt its citizens of color in a similar way to enslavement and the later (circa 1950s) influx of Western-controlled entities. Will Castro's stepping down mean that someone can fulfill the dreams of a Cuba Libre decades past?

- Wendi Muse

Update: you can find the fulltext transcript of the resignation speech here: Speech Transcript

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