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Tuesday, February 19, 2008


Fidel "resigns"

First posted 6:41 a.m.; updated and bumped up

Why can't people, including liberals, get things straight? Listening to Democracy Now! this morning, both host Amy Goodman and guest Peter Kornbluh joined most of the corporate media in claiming that Fidel Castro "resigned" today. He did no such thing; what he did, as he clearly explains, is to decline to run for re-election as President ("President of the State Council" officially). Failing to explain that properly is a political decision, because it implies that Fidel has not been re-elected repeatedly during the last 49 years, but has been unilaterally holding on to an office from which he could only depart by "resigning" (or dying). Lyndon B. Johnson also declined to run for a second term (in a move that was probably more surprising than Fidel's decision today), and I doubt you'll find a single reference to him "resigning" the Presidency.

Goodman made a second error during the program which is also quite common. Describing the positions of the two Democratic Presidential candidates, she noted that Obama is for removing travel restrictions on Cuban-Americans (but not on other Americans) to Cuba, and then claimed that Clinton had the "politically expedient" position of maintaining the status quo so that she "wouldn't lose a single Cuban-American vote." But that's exactly backwards, because the majority of Cuban-Americans support the removal of travel restrictions (and remittance restrictions) on themselves, which is precisely the Obama position. So, whether or not he adopted the position out of political expediency, about which I have no evidence, objectively speaking it is Obama who has the "politically expedient" position, not Clinton.

Update: Reader Catherine provides us with Obama's statement on the event (no doubt Clinton and McCain have similar things to day):

"Today should mark the end of a dark era in Cuba's history. Fidel Castro's stepping down is an essential first step, but it is sadly insufficient in bringing freedom to Cuba.

"Cuba's future should be determined by the Cuban people and not by an anti-democratic successor regime. The prompt release of all prisoners of conscience wrongly jailed for standing up for the basic freedoms too long denied to the Cuban people would mark an important break with the past. It's time for these heroes to be released.

"If the Cuban leadership begins opening Cuba to meaningful democratic change, the United States must be prepared to begin taking steps to normalize relations and to ease the embargo of the last five decades. The freedom of the Cuban people is a cause that should bring the Americans together."
Clinton's campaign recently accused Obama of "lifting" (note: not "plagiarism" as all the media have been reporting over and over) "lines" from Duval Patrick. I charge him with lifting these lines from every American President, Democrat and Republican, for the last 45 years.

Additional update: Incidentally, the Miami Herald, probably one the most anti-Cuban newspapers in the country but also the one which follows the news from Cuba most closely and prints more of it, actually gets it right, when it opens its lead article on the subject with "Fidel Castro's decision not to seek reelection as president..."

Additional update: How absurd does this get, and how accurate is the point I was making in this post? I just heard, on the local FOX-owned KTVU noon news (not "FOX News"), the announcer (mis)inform his audience, "There are no new elections scheduled in Cuba." Of course the entire point of Fidel's announcement is that there is an election coming up on Sunday, not a general election, which already took place, but an election nonetheless.

Yet another update: CNN was "surveying" the response of blogger's to Fidel's announcement. Both blogs they quoted were right-wing blogs. What are the odds? Hey CNN, look left!

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