Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Cuba's Next President and Ours

The man who plagued the White House from JFK on won't be around for the next occupant, although the turmoil of his succession may be more of a problem than he himself has been in recent years for Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John McCain in their campaigning in Florida and elsewhere.

From several generations of Cuban-Americans, Castro's announcement that he is stepping down will elicit joy and hope, shadowed by bitter sorrow over decades of exile from their native land. Feelings will run high again.

For once, perhaps because he is continents away from home, George W. Bush sounded presidential today in noting "the question really should be what does this mean for the people in Cuba. They are the ones who suffered under Fidel Castro."

Bush expressed hope this would be "the beginning of a democratic transition for the people of Cuba...An interesting debate will arise. Some will say let's promote stability. In the meantime political prisoners will rot...This should be a transition to free and fair elections. And I mean free and fair. Not these elections that the Castro brothers rig."

Nepotism and iffy elections are not a strong suit for the man who took power in 2000, but we can be grateful that he won't be in office long enough to help the Cuban people find democracy as he has been doing in Iraq. His successor will have to find subtler ways.

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