Castro Steps Down.

After 49 years, the long-serving leader of Cuba, Fidel Castro, is finally stepping down.

Famous for his six hour speeches and for the little acknowledged fact that the Castro regime brought peace and an end to corruption to a war-torn Cuba, Castro has long been the target for jealous American Administrations. Most of those administrations have hated being shown how to run a country with honesty and integrity!

Now President Bush has urged Cubans to “begin a period of democratic transition.”

The US president said the “first step” was for the Cuban Government to release political prisoners, and urged the international community to help build democratic institutions in Cuba.

We’re going to help. The United States will help the people of Cuba realise the blessings of liberty,” he said. “There will be an interesting debate that will arise, eventually. There will be some who say ‘let’s promote stability’, of course, in the meantime, political prisoners will rot in prison and the human condition will remain pathetic in many cases.”

I think George W Bush has finally learned the meaning of “Irony”!

28 responses to “Castro Steps Down.

  1. from 49% of Americans: sorry world. really, really sorry. fingers crossed this time…

    by the way, breaking news: the monkey in the photo on the right is deeply offended at the comparison. (sigh)

    Thanks daisyfae, we can save the world, one person at a time 🙂


  2. He also stated that “Now is the time to begin building “Institutions of Democracy” in Cuba … is Guantanamo Bay an Institution of Democracy???

    It can’t be. It is run by the good ol’ US of A and any waterboarding is done only in jest!


  3. I thought it was great for you to run the side-by-side mugshots of Fidel and his diminutive sidekick, Mini Fi. Viva Fidelito! Viva la Revolucion!

    I’ll really upset the wingnuts soon – I’ll write in praise of Che!


  4. Castro is human garbage who has killed thousands in his failed pursuit of a communist paradise.

    absurd thought –
    God of the Universe says
    Castro was BRILLIANT

    like Marx, Lenin and Mao
    he helped redefine EVIL

    absurd thought –
    God of the Universe says
    celebrities are GUILTY

    of having talent and luck
    so they must praise dictators

    absurd thought –
    God of the Universe says
    never admit you were wrong

    Communism’s FANTASTIC
    BEST false ideology

    absurd thought –
    God of the Universe says
    keep your people poor

    deny them decent health care
    convince them they have it GREAT


    Don’t smile at me, you bigoted little man. Just who has killed the most, eh? Bush (ver 1.0 and ver 1.2) has! You are a blot on the blogipelago and an insult to humanity. Oh, and your so-called poetry sucks, like BIGTIME!


  5. Great post!

    Have you seen the Guardian Unlimited cartoon today?,,337484,00.html

    Thank you thank you – he says what I tried to say but so much better!


  6. OK, I’ll praise Che: though a crude physician, Che was a first-rate bank teller.

    Ahhh, but when the revolution came, he stood up and was counted. Right or wrong, he did what he believed in.


  7. I just saw an exhibition of Cuban art from about 1840 to now. It is somewhat depressing how the history of the country is so riddled with one regime after another. What caught my eye was the concept of “Island Burden”. Basically it means, this is a small island, we are at the mercy of whoever takes over, being burdened on a island means you are fucked if you do, fucked if you don’t.

    Like Castro or not, he at least has brought stability to the island. Those puppet leaders whom kept changing every year or two were not good for anyone.


  8. Four thousand Yanks have died wresting Iraq from despotism. Four thousand Yanquis died to liberate Cuba from despotism. At the time the Cubans, feeling newly unburdened, were quite grateful, and were glad to have the United States, a bastion of freedom as well as of capitalism, as guarantor of its independence and safety. Likewise other islands: Puerto Rico, the Marshalls, the Aleutians, Guam, American Samoa, the USVI, the Hawaiian archipelago prior to statehood, etc.

    No, the mistake made by too many Cubans was that they fell for Castro, who alone ensured that they would be screwed if they did, screwed if they didn’t. The romanticization of that murderous clown has got to stop. No matter what Ed Asner and Sean Penn and Barbra Streisand and The Steven have to say, in their geopolitical wisdom.

    Let the dead bury their dead.

    Can I go back to the start? I did not PRAISE Castro – I noted that he had governed with honesty and integrity – I did not use the words “fair” or “free” or even “Nicely”. He was honest about who and what he was – a despotic dictator. My beef was with the hypocrite in the White House talking about Political prisoners as though he would NEVER EVER cause someone to be locked up for their political beliefs when he has done just that on the SAME ISLAND!


  9. Dear AerChie

    Q. What is worse than a Sin ?

    A. A mistake

    …. Henry II in Anouilh’s Becket

    [always something odd/new in the US of A]

    I do not in any way wish to defend the US Blockade on Cuba, which seems bizarre & vindictive, even by this Eagle’s inadequate standards

    It seems unworthy of the American people who generally seem to be so generous-hearted , but who have these strange aberrations – eg the Economic Persecution of Cuba

    I do not want to suggest that the Cuban Government does not have anything about it that is right or even admirable – eg health care for all

    Certainly, my Adviser on US Health-Care (the sensitive & perceptive Monsieur Metro) can confirm that for too many (poor) US Citizens the US-Health Care system is deplorable, but even oor Hilary [Mrs Clinton] could make no progress in improving it

    However, before we canonize President Castro, I think a number of questions need to be answered :

    1. Have you or anyone you know actually been to Cuba

    2. Have you or anyone you know actually met someone who has been beaten up by the Cuban Police, for the “crime” of having English Tourists to stay with him

    3. How does it come about that Mr Charles Clarke (a former British Home Secretary) speaks Spanish with a Cuban accent

    4. Don’t we have the Cubans to praise for F D Roosevelt being President in 1940 and saving Britain and the World from Mr Hitler the Founder of the European Union, who tried to unite Europe under ONE United Government

    FDR became President because he had the same name as Teddy Roosevelt, the inspiration behind one of the Good Lord’s greatest gifts to an anxious Humanity – the Teddy Bear

    Teddy Roosevelt became President because he had been such a hero with the American Rough Riders who helped to liberate Cuba from Spain in 1898


    Your obedient servant etc

    G Eagle

    I was not writing about Cuba or Castro per se – I was writing about the hypocrisy of Geo W Bush, noted draft dodger, drug addict and grade one reader!

    However, I thank you for your entertaining (as always) contribution. I refer you to Conrad’s “Nostromo” in respect of Cuba having been liberated!


  10. I don’t regret the trade restrictions one bit. I won’t regret until the Cuban community of Havana does.

    The African National Congress asked Americans to boycott South Africa, cut off trade with her, and divest from all South-African exposed public corporations. To the extent that these moves were implemented, South Africans suffered. They knew that they would suffer. They were willing to suffer economically because they valued freedom more than material comfort. When Nelson Mandela was freed from Robbin Island and then elected President, he came to this country and thanked the People of the United States for having the same values, and for helping to liberate his horrifically oppressed land.

    During most of the period in which the Cuban trade restrictions (not an embargo, strictly) have been in effect, Cuba had been an economic—and hence a political and military—vassal of the Soviet Union. Cuban soldiers killed U.S. troops in diverse points of the Globe. When I was a child, Fidel Castro tried to nuke me, my family and friends and pets, and my countryfolk. I’ve taken that somewhat personally ever since.

    In 1977 Jimmy Carter, the once and future Board Member of the Coca-Cola Corporation, the largest consumer of refined sugar in the world, ordered a carve-out in the Cuban trade restrictions to permit the importation of Cuba’s greatest export, sugar. The economy of the tiny island satellite was at that time propped up entirely by $3B+/yr. cane subsidies from its liege, Moscow. With a stroke of the pen, therefore, President Carter saw to it that the Soviet worker subsidized the Coke habits of American teenagers.

    Nice bit of Cold Warring, that.

    To hell with the regimes of Cuba, Venezuela, Iran and China. Long live the people and great cultures of those nations.

    You forgot to include the USA in that list!


  11. Well PH went to Cuba (I know his work backwards Archie, it’s a long story) and I live on an island smaller than Cuba and we used to rule the world, before we gave it back.

    Far too nice, that’s always been our trouble. That’s democracy for you!

    And never did you Sassenachs do anything nasty to retain that power. Hey, I’ve read Flashman – I know the facts!


  12. Well now just one minute here. First, England is about one-fourth larger than the Island of Cuba. If you have in mind the Cuban archipelago, then the comparison of course would be to Great Britain.

    Second, my family were Saxons too, as it happens, though they fled to Scotland, where they were taken under protection, when their notions regarding things religious failed to conform with the norm. Somewhere along the way they met up and married with some fine folk downstream of the House of Orange, thereby making a whole new category of enemies. Eventually they wore out their welcome in the Highlands (ref. Flashman per supra) and took passage to the American colonies.

    Third, the island a bit larger than Cuba did not once rule the world. It ruled only the pink parts of a blue globe covered largely in pink. And, admittedly, it ruled all the blue parts too. But there were still patches of other colors here and there.

    And don’t you forget it!

    Unfortunately, I have yet to find any invasion, conquering or domination of one nation/tribe/people by another which has been benign from the beginning.


  13. Oh gosh the Flashman books are supposed to be fab, not that I’ve read any but I intend to buy my son the set when he’s old enough – by that time I’ll have finished my degree and will have time to read some. Right now my light relief is from Tom Holt whose work I’ve always liked.

    Hughvic – you were correct in your assumption and you must admit that anything not blue or pink is best ignored.

    Flashman may be a bit of a naughty lad at times but he is always true to himself and his author provides a far more realistic version of history than most of the “learned sycophants” rabble.


  14. Indeed I do so admit, Philipa. The taking of Australia was, I think, especially foresighted: cornering the market on marsupials in a single masterstroke. Brilliant!

    It is a little known fact that there are more Kangaroos in Oz now than when Europeans arrived – we have provided them with a large new food source.


  15. The US-Cuba trade restrictions have nothing to do with the regime there. They’re economic, plain and simple. And they won’t come down until Big Sugar in the US stops making massive political contributions.

    Some believe Cuban sugar was allowed in to protect the sugar subsidies. After all, if there was no competion, the producers could hardly complain of needing protection, could they? And the duties are money in pockets.

    If Wal-Mart manufactured in Cuba as they do in China, I believe the restrictions would soon be lifted.

    A few questions, because I’m honestly curious.

    Has anyone asked an Iraqi whether they’d rather live in “free” Bagdhad or “despotic” Havana? I’d be interested to hear the reply.

    Those 4,000 lives–were they “wresting Iraq from despotism” or heartlessly wasted in a war started over nothing by a little man with daddy issues?

    Who ruled Cuba from 1898 to 1902?

    Who protected Cuban’s democracy by propping up that famous democrat, General Batista?

    Of whom was it then said “…but at least he was our son-of-a-bitch”? After someone cut off his arms supplies and willingly let Castro and the revolutionaries take over?

    When were the first US trade sanctions set on Cuba–before or arter Castro took power? And why?

    In what nations other than Cuba have Cuban troops fought US troops?

    I have another issue:
    Castro tried to nuke you? Personally? Did he come to your house? Or do you refer to the brinksmanship game Kennedy had to play after his aborted invasion attempt drove Havana to seek protection from Kruschev?

    Castro is a bastard. He’s backed terror groups in Palestine, backed the most violent aspirants of the Black Panthers, and supported the Sandinistas. But historically, he’s just one of many. It’d be nice to see him charged with the murders he is, at least, complicit in. But I’ll settle for him fading away.

    Your list of other islands is interesting too. They’re all US states or protectorates. Does this have anything to do with the uniforms of the soldiers who landed on their soil during the Spanish-American war?

    Odd, that you raise the taking of Spanish posessions in one trumped up war with the “liberation” of Iraq in another.

    I’m not here to defend Castro–but if you’re going to make sweeping claims, you’d better be right. Because as I am abundantly illustrating, history has more than one point of view, and one man’s Great Patriotic War of Defence is another’s Bloodthirsty Unprovoked Aggression.

    Don’t neglect Fraser’s other works. “MacAuslan” series is terrific, and so is “The Pyrates,” which I just finished reading again.

    @G EagLE:
    Cheers for the Teddy Bear! However, in remembering the Maine it seems important to remember that no-one actually knows what caused the blast that sank her.


    Up your meds and put your analyst on speed-dial.

    The key point to me about Iraq is the 1,000,000 Iraqis who have died since the invasion began. It probably matches the numbewr killed in Angola by Castro’s troops.


  16. Metro – insightful comments and many thanks for the book recommendation, I’ll see to it. I have to say, my fave bit among your comment was “heartlessly wasted in a war started over nothing by a little man with daddy issues” oh so true and yes, one mans freedom fighter is another mans murderer.

    Hughvic – I’ve tasted marsupial, it was tough, I prefer grouse and venison.

    Marsupial is Cholesterol -free and almost fat free so needs to be marinated for a while or cooked in oil to keep it tender.


  17. Metro,

    I don’t much appreciate your interrogatory pedantry. Especially since you preface your cross examination with the oddly chosen words, “I’m honestly curious.” You might have said, “I’m disingenuous,” and have saved a syllable.

    Since you know the answers to the smug questions you ask “honestly”, I’ll simply launch directly into argumentation concerning the opinions you import.

    Though the first question, “Has anyone asked an Iraqi”, is a magically rhetorical one, I happen to know that the answer is yes. The reason I know is that my wife led a delegation there, and she and at least one of her American companions made a point of asking several Iraqis whether they wished to emmigrate from their homeland. Every Iraqi respondent said no; one was offended that the question even should be put by a foreigner. Though my wife and her entourage were not led on a voyage a la Potemkin, admittedly they were asking this question of a self-selecting group of people who had remained in Iraq rather than fleeing to, say, Jordan. My wife did not go to Jordan, though the HumVee in which she travelled did draw fire from the spiritual confreres of Fidel and Che.

    The war in Iraq not only was not about nothing, it wasn’t even much of a war. Its objectives were achieved so rapidly with forces so small that the operation defied military science—a message not lost on nations hostile to democracy. Most of the four thousand fallen Americans died not during the war, but rather during the bloody and protracted occupation.

    Although the invading coalition was led by President George W. Bush, its rationale was not a figment of his perceived Freudian neuroses. I have restated in an earlier post the reasons for the move against the Hussein regime. Were you to visit one of the American military compounds in Iraq today and tell the personnel there that their comrades’ lives were “wasted” they just might waste you.

    Unfortunately the occupation and military administration of Iraq has not ended as quickly as the occupation of Cuba did. My list of other islands was expressly a list of American islands and protectorates, and expressly linked to the history of U.S.-Cuban relations. What is your point? Mine was to suggest that the aforementioned “Island Burden” is a fatuous construct of manufactured “grievance” geopolitics. What next, monetary reparations with a cut for Kofi Annan & Sons, Ltd.?

    A number of modern inquests into the sinking of the USS Maine, notably one undertaken by the U.S. Navy in 1976, have shown beyond doubt that the explosion which sank the Maine originated from within the vessel’s hull, not from a Spanish “torpedo” (mine), as claimed at the time. I am an American historian (actually, an historical anthropologist) who always has taught that the Spanish-American War was, as you point out, “trumped up”. Not so, the invasion of Iraq. Both have had fitful, bloody and ultimately liberating outcomes. And in Iraq, the promise of more to come.

    I’m not sure to which “sweeping claims” of mine you refer. But while it is a truism to state that history has more than one point of view, historiography, the project of working historians, is a struggle for fidelity to the historical record. Fidelity to the record is the historian’s code. And like most historians, I shudder whenever I stray, and rush to correct errors and misunderstandings. So please let me know; however, I must say in my own defense that I was merely blogging, and doing so off my subject, which is the Western history of childhood and of changing conceptions of child rearing—a far cry from modern Cuban history.

    To my knowledge Cuban troops have not taken the lives of American military personnel in Cuba. The two killed each other in Grenada, of course, and indigenous cadres trained and led by U.S. Army Special Forces took on Cuban troops supporting the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. Cuba’s military operations in Africa, most notably in Angola, as both Soviet proxy and sincere protagonist of a Communist path to liberation of that continent, are well known, and are known to have met with opposing efforts of the U.S. intelligence services.

    It’s a bit callous, in my opinion, to tell a Cuban dissident marked for a slow death in a Cuban prison that one is content to “settle for [Castro’s] fading away.” Likewise the observation that Castro is one of many baddies the world over, a good many of whom have been—as was Batista, of course—propped up by the U.S. as friends of convenience, not of conviction.

    We Yanquis are also Cubans. We care about Cuba—as a rule, more so than Jack Kennedy did. There is no question but that he reviewed and approved the invasion plans bequeathed him by Ike, gave the order to activate them, then balked, played for time, and ultimately lost his nerve and withdrew the naval and air support always understood to have been necessary to the success of the landings at the Bay of Pigs. (He was right, however, in sensing that the Soviets had penetrated his intelligence and had tipped off the Cubans, who lay in wait.)

    His fecklessness, both in that fiasco and in his first meeting with Premier Khrushchev, in June 1962, led to the Kremlin’s deadly dangerous but quite warranted conclusion that JFK was a callow statesman, a weak commander, and a reckless philandering daddy’s boy whose father bought the Oval Office for him. This underestimate is what led Fidel and friends to construct mediu-range nuclear missile installations 90 miles from Florida and to come very close to nuking us when our president expressed his displeasure. And yes, “us” includes me & mine.

    And yes, we remember such things even when Hollywood celebrities—as celebrated as Batista for their appreciation of democracy—indulge in taking their fatuous turns onstage with the plier-and-blowtorch despots they prefer to cast in the role of Latino poet-revolutionaries on horseback, replete with silly props.

    The great powers cannot “take a vacation from history” by suffering and even patronising the world’s loose cannons any longer. The game is too dangerous, the lessons of the past too plain, and too painfully numerous.

    Anyway, that’s what I think. Should you have further questions concerning U.S.-Cuba relations, and especially concerning the trade restrictions and the erstwhile sugar supports, I recommend that you contact William Ratliff at the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace. My name is not for the blogosphere, but just for fun I invite you to carry the following message to Bill: “Had Don Carlos de Valparaiso given Salvador an ‘A’, he never would have coached futbol in later years.”

    Philipa, how have you all been doing with your “Island Burden”? Is that what Kipling meant?

    I guess you folk had the last laugh when you captured the whole Australian menagerie, leaving us Yanks with nought in the marsupial cupboard save the smelly opposum. The only recipe I have for that surprising but morbid varmint is a quite authentic American Southern one, which begins by advising the cook to skin the possum at once, lest it “get away” by playing [and smelling] dead.

    I believe that I too shall stick to grouse and venison.

    while I do not dare doubt your credentials as a historian, having been in conversation with a number of ravishingly beautiful women in cyberspace, I do have cause to doubt your position of apparent authority. No supporter of the current USA industrial/military puppet dictatorship in the White House can have an objective opinion. I always study the competence and affiliations of the historians I read. Julius Caesar may have been an excellent recorder of battles and strange places but some of his interpretations and opinions of other peoples must be looked at as being the POV of the victor. I would be far more interested in reading the historical opinions of dis-interested students of events.


  18. you know what’s said about arguing on the internet? kinda like being in the special olympics… maybe you win, but you’re still ‘special’…

    Especially as it is not necessary to enumerate your qualifications – making it possible for an under-employed GWB to claim to be a world-famous expert on foreign affairs! HA! Who would choose to make love to a Republican? That is why they go to war instead!


  19. daisyfae, the Internet was developed for academic exchange and argumentation, and also as a back-up system of communication in the event of war. You’d just be surprised at what hath been wrought through argument via this multimedium.

    It is interesting that the internet was created by, and then hijacked by, academics, for the military. The military and its civilian stooges have been trying to wrest control back ever since.


  20. Hughvic – have to agree with your there re: internet; I’ve had some illuminating exchanges and you just can’t rely on those who happen to live near you for the wealth of intellectual exchange you might enjoy, even if the result of that exchange is to learn and change ones opinion.
    However, on the subject of “Island Burden”, I slap it on the barbie, don’t you?? It tasted tough in the restaurant in the UK – I think they made it walk over. And yes, we were indeed very sensible in stuffing half our population into Australia, sadly the other half now want to go too! I blame NuLabour.

    the foolish part was that you exported the best of your population and left behind the Public School Fairies and the Hockey Mistresses!


  21. It is true that Democratic sex is better than Republican sex. The Democratic Party is basically erotocentric anyway. GOP sex is more, er, uh, productive though.

    As for recapturing the Internet, the ARPA crowd “and their civilian stooges” (of whom I once was one), now have a fat, fast pipe all their own. So, no longer any need to fear the repo team. The Net now is for the sex-starved, for teenagers and post-teens so callow as to wish to feign cynicism, for preening scientistic nihilists, for those who would take a dead marsupial over a Cuban passport, or a fat grouse over a dead marsupial.

    Except for Philipa, of course, who’d sooner grill up a footsore Australian Lungfish than vote Labour.

    Despite the fundamental Protestantism of the Republican Right, it seems to have become almost Catholic in its attitudes and prohibitions. “No sex until marriage”, “sex only for procreation” and “life begins at conception” are Catholic precepts. I find it passing strange that they are espoused so strongly by the evangelists who should be promoting the Lutherian ethic of salvation being between man and his god, not between man, through an organisation and only then to God. The current desperate attempts at holding back science in a Ludditic frenzy of denial will lead to book burnings and a bewildering ignorance in the USA and all will gaze in wonder that such a wonderful experiment in Human Organisation was able to pull the down its own coffin lid and leave the world to the Chinese.

    The Grouse will be commandeered by the Mandarins of the Brave New World and marsupials will be stir-fried into extinction.

    It will all be the fault of Jerry Falwell, Billy Graham and Pat Robertson, aided by those power hungry Republicans who do not want an electorate who can think for themselves.


  22. Hughvic – you got that right 🙂

    Archie – you are mistaken; my great aunt emigrated but my grandfather stayed, with my father and of course his family including me, so the best is still here!

    Yet I am here as well, and so the ancestors Queen Vic exported must also have been of the best!


  23. Got to agree with you there Archie 🙂

    How can we continue the argument if you start agreeing with me, eh?

    As one of my acquaintances on Usenet once remarked, “Get with the program. No one is ‘wrong’ on Usenet. They are
    either 100% totally correct, or they are ‘a lying, scum sucking weasel.’ There is no in between.”


  24. I know, I know. I’m in the same boat, floating on a sea of despondent agreement. (Correcting for the funny theocratic exaggerations in the 1:15 post, of[f] course.)

    Hey Philipa, wanna pick a fight?

    Every time I think my opinion of religious fanatics has gone over the top, one of them exceeds even my wild fantasies!


  25. Bog off Hughvic you puss-sucking miserable excuse of a bottom feeder. No offence intended of course.

    Oh sod it I can’t do this – I’m English!! I’m really terribly nice until you piss me off and then I rip your throat out and stick your head on a spike.

    Hmmm – not a bad start – 4.5/10


  26. Whah, ye call that fightin’? Wha that ain’t fightin’. Fightin’s more like, if you ever say anything like that again, we’ll buy your sinking island before breakfast and sell the lot of you to Brussels for lunch, garnished with watercress and cucumber and topped with some of your phlegmish mayonnaise, which will be just the first of several French words you will have to listen to those cranked-up Francophones pronounce CORRECTLY until you all pass slowly through the alimentary canal a la Flandre, producing a Belge bulge of belching bilge until all Brussels relieves itself of your execrable poetry upon Flanders Fields, you insignificant burp.

    That’s the way to fight, Philipa. Get with it, will you?

    An improvement – 6/10 – both of you can do better.


  27. Sadly it’s far too depressing to consider how we are indeed run by Brussels. Like I said I’m English – I don’t like nasty talk.

    Wasn’t it the glorious Iron Lady who set that association in train?


  28. I confess that I don’t much like it either, though Shakespeare and Donne were mighty fine at it. Finch egg! Princess Margaret gets in her licks with the best of ’em every now and then too.

    If it helps, I met a Belgian who was tending one of the “Brown Bars” in old Amsterdam, and asked him whether it’s true that it rains 365 days a year in Belgium.

    “Are you serious? That’s ridiculous? Three hundred sixty-five days of rain?”

    “Well, er,” I stumbled, “that’s what I heard anyway, I meant no offense.”

    “Of COURSE it doesn’t rain three hundred sixty-five days a year!” bellowed the barkeep, “Sometimes it snows.”

    Oh goody – I shall probably use this one in another place 🙂


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