Raul Castro Ruz, President of the State Council and the Council of Ministers
At the closing session of the First Session of the 7th legislature of theNational Assembly of People's Power Convention Center, Havana, February 24, 2008,"Year 50th of the Revolution."
[ The composition of the State Council, which has just been elected by thisAssembly, raised much expectation both in Cuba and abroad. The mostsignificant was clarified by comrade Fidel in his Message of February 18th.There is very little that I can add to what he said except to express to ourpeople, on behalf of the Revolution's Leadership, our appreciation for theinnumerable expressions of serenity, maturity, self-assurance, and thecombination of genuine sadness and revolutionary determination.
I take on the responsibility entrusted to me deeply convinced that, as Ihave often said, there is only one Commander in Chief of the CubanRevolution.
Fidel is Fidel; we all know it very well. Fidel is irreplaceable and thepeople shall continue his work when he is no longer physically with us;although his ideas will always be with us, the same ideas that have made itpossible to build the beacon of dignity and justice our country represents. ]
There is much more, particularly about the economy and the institutions and their composition.
As well, if you have an interest in Cuba you might like to look at this:
[ Questions and Answers about Fidel Castro’s Resignation by Philip Brenner ]
And the article about Cuba that most delighted me, is from the paper of the town where I went to high school.
[ Cuba important to North Dakota economy by Anna Jauhola, Daily News
At a reception for Alimport and the trade delegation, the Cubans and North Dakotans chatted like old friends, talking about their children, sports and other non-political stuff, Dotzenrod said.
The embargo on Cuba by the United States has been in place for more than 40 years and now Castro has stepped down, it is possible the embargo may be lifted, Dotzenrod said. With a lifted embargo, free trade and a new era could begin. Currently, even though Cubans receive free healthcare, education, housing and food from their government, they a poor people. Dotzenrod said the embargo has stayed in place for so many years because of U.S. presidential elections — 1 million exiled Cubans living and voting in Florida have decided the last two presidents. Plus, the embargo has allowed Castro to retain his power by blaming America for the poor state of Cuba.
Despite the flaws in both United States and Cuban government, Dotzenrod said the trade mission was definitely worth the trip. The Cubans were always friendly, he said, and there was never the feeling of hate or animosity at all.
"It was incredibly fantastic," Dotzenrod said. "I'd go back in a heartbeat." ]
When we first starting going to Cuba people back home were shocked. Most of them couldn't have told you where Cuba was located, even (the embargo turned Cuba into the Mysterious Island here in the U.S. until it was re-discovered by US -- U.S. -- in the 90's with the Clinton People-to-People policy. Back home they had this picture that the island was filled with people in grey rags marching in long, lock-step columns, all the time. Now, a lot of them have been there themselves, and they love the place and the people. It's one of those life ironies that no one could ever have predicted.