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Is Cuba’s change of guard a step toward freedom?

March 2, 2008
Most Cubans have never known freedom, in large measure because they have never lived without Fidel Castro as their nation’s dictator. That is about to change — officially, at least.

The 81-year-old Castro revealed recently that he is resigning as president of Cuba. That ends a reign — for it has been just that — that began in 1959.

Castro’s decision clears the way for his 76-year-old brother, Raul, to become president. He has served as a caretaker in that position since Castro’s current illness began in July 2006. Raul Castro has hinted that he may liberalize some of the harsh economic, social and political rules that have governed Cuba under his brother’s hard-line communist regime.

Do not expect dramatic changes just yet, however, for two reasons. First, Fidel Castro will remain a member of Cuba’s 31-member Council of State, and will retain at least some behind-the-scenes power. Second, true liberals have been purged from Cuba’s power structure during Castro’s time on the throne.

Still, it appears that the door has been opened — just a crack — for reform in Cuba. The long-suffering people of that nation will, at some point, begin to feed their hunger for more liberty and more prosperity.

Americans and other freedom-loving people who understand that should help the Cuban people exploit their opportunity — cautiously and thoughtfully.


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