February 19th, 2008
12:20 PM ET
15 years ago

White House hopefuls on Castro's resignation

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/images/02/19/art.castromtg0219.ap.jpg caption="Fidel Castro met with the Brazilian president recently in Havana."]
(CNN) - Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said Tuesday the resignation of Cuban President Fidel Castro should "mark the end of a dark era in Cuba's history."

In a written statement, the senator from Illinois added:

"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."

John McCain, R-Ariz., also issued a written reaction to the media.

"Today's resignation of Fidel Castro is nearly half a century overdue. For decades, Castro oversaw an apparatus of repression that denied liberty to the people who suffered under his dictatorship.

"Yet freedom for the Cuban people is not yet at hand, and the Castro brothers clearly intend to maintain their grip on power. That is why we must press the Cuban regime to release all political prisoners unconditionally, to legalize all political parties, labor unions and free media, and to schedule internationally monitored elections.

"Cuba's transition to democracy is inevitable; it is a matter of when - not if. With the resignation of Fidel Castro, the Cuban people have an opportunity to move forward and continue pushing for the moment that they will truly be free. America can and should help hasten the sparking of freedom in Cuba. The Cuban people have waited long enough."

Democrat Hillary Clinton also welcomed the news that Castro is stepping down.

She told an economic roundtable: I just want to say a word about a development today that is very significant. Fidel Castro has decided to step down as the leader of Cuba.

"And I think this provides a great opportunity for the people of Cuba. I am hoping that the new leadership will take steps to move Cuba toward democracy - release political prisoners - lift a lot of the oppresive burdens that have prevented the Cuban people from really having the kind of future they deserve to have.

"Certainly the people of the United States would meet a new government to talk about what needs to happen if that new government takes some action that demonstrates they are willing to change. So, we are hoping that we see some evidence of that.

"It is a very stark reminder that even if you have been in power for 50 years - you cannot hold onto power forever, and the people of Cuba deserve to have leadership that respects their human rights and gives them the opportunity to you know fulfill their own destiny.

"And we need a president who will work with countries around the world in Europe and the Western Hemisphere to push Cuba now to join the community of nations and to become a democracy. And I will certainly do that as president."

Former Arkansas governor and Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee said in a statement that "The Cuban people deserve nothing less than free and fair elections which would provide the only hope for a prosperous and democratic Cuba.

"Until Fidel Castro is dead, there can be no significant movement towards reform in Cuba. Raul Castro has proven that he's as much a tyrant and dictator as his brother Fidel. Simply providing more power to another dictator does nothing to promote freedom and democracy to the Cuban people."

Update (12:20pm) to include Clinton and Huckabee statements

Related video: Castro resigns

soundoff (299 Responses)
  1. Richard, St. Paul, MN

    I always thought that America should just buy Cuba and turn it into a resort. I'm sure the price would be cheap and that way, our old fogey politicians could stop holding a 40 year grudge and get on with business.

    February 19, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  2. CT Yankee

    The US position on Cuba is deplorable. Our largest trading partner, China has a worse Human Rights policy than Cuba yet we have multi-billion dollar trade agreements with them. All of our allies have relations with Cuba and yet we don't. We are just pissed off that Castro overthrew Batista, Corporate America and the few wealthy families that controlled Cuba. When our founding fathers broke away from the oppression of England they are celebrated as heros, when Castro does it he's a criminal. We let our relations with him deteriorate to the point where he had to allign with the communists. So who really is at fault? Our country had meddled in the affairs of latin america since Teddy Roosevelt and we have no right. We have been responsible for the murder of progressive presidents throughout latin america so that we could install puppet regimes who support american businesses and the world bank. That's our global policy....Shame on us

    February 19, 2008 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  3. Thimbletack

    I just hope that all Batistas crooks in Florida move back there if a so- called Democracy returns.

    February 19, 2008 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  4. MD

    I wonder what Hillary's position on Elian Gonzalez was when the Republican's were wanting him to be allowed to stay in the US while the Bill Clinton justice department wanted him returned to Cuba.

    I guess, in Hillary's mind, the Cuba during her husband's administration was much better than the Cuba she refers to today.

    February 19, 2008 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  5. California Voter

    Hillary did comment. CNN's original ticker just included Obama's and McCain's comments. Wonder how that happened? CNN try and look a little more balanced.

    February 19, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  6. Will

    I don't see why everyone is so excited, one Castro is stepping down, and another is taking his place. Unless Raoul Castro makes major changes in how Cuba is controlled, what's the big deal? Out goes the fox, but in comes the weasel? All the politicians trumpet about how this signals great changes for the people of Cuba...just alot of hot air, from both sides of the political aisle.

    February 19, 2008 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  7. V from Denver

    It is so typical of the media, whose love for Obama knows no bounds, to bury Clinton's remarks in the middle of the article, while highlighting McCain's and Obama's remarks. Please remember that the final Democratic candidate has not been chosen yet and I, for one, would appreciate getting an unbiased report from CNN.

    February 19, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  8. kathleen, illinois


    You got that right, Lisa!!!

    OBAMA 2008

    February 19, 2008 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  9. mm

    " Hillary Clinton was the first out of the gate today to go on camera and comment on the ceding of power by Cuban leader Fidel Castro. She called news that Castro had resigned an opportunity for the island nation. " – MSNBC

    Shame on you CNN for making it look like HRC didn't have anything to say. Would you guys just resign and let folks like me do the journalism?

    February 19, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  10. Make Amevomit

    The topic was Cuba, but everyone really made it about trashing the candidates. Perhaps we can worry about Cuba when America can

    What I have learned from this race:

    1. White males are far more sexist then racist. Neither is good, but I bet their mothers are proud of the disrespect they have shown for Hillary Clinton. I hope they don't speak of their wives this way?

    2. White America is ready for a Black President, Black America is not.
    Do you think they could be just a little more objective in their choice
    instead of only seeing color?

    3. We need to give people a test before they are allowed to vote.

    4. Bloggers is an incorrect label... Blowhards and Bigots would be a more appropriate "B" word!

    February 19, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  11. Illinois Democrat

    Where's the Hillary response – ask CNN and their biased reporting! This is another example of CNN swaying public opinion subtly. Obama is GOD to CNN! Cmon people wake up – what has Obama done besides great speeches? I have yet to hear what accomplishments that Obama has made even CNN has said that his supporters have no idea – they just want change. What has Obama done for change? Actions speak louder than words if you ask me and I would compare this statement to both Obama & CNN.

    February 19, 2008 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  12. Fred

    Why didn't any of these so called reporters ask Ron Paul? He is still in the presidential race and he has come out against the trade embargo

    As for Cuba there will be no change in their policies plus he has the support and backing of Chavez of Venezula, Correa of Ecuador and Morales.

    February 19, 2008 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  13. toby

    Do You truly believe Obama wrote his words. Please

    February 19, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  14. Bert Garskof

    I too hope that the winds of progressive change blow down Cuban repressive policies but I hope this change leaves in place positive aspects of Fidel's tenure such as the best health statistics in Latin America, the best and most democratic education and welfare systems in the hemisphere and many other positive and democratic structural changes brought about by the Cuban Revolution; things that were absent before Fidel.

    February 19, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  15. Praetorian, Ft. Myers, FL

    Will...here's why

    When all belly buttons appear the same.

    You've got to seek out the ones with the moles and lint–to determine the most beautiful.

    February 19, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  16. Independant

    CNN , You put it out , an Nbc follows up.

    Know you will not print this.

    You CNN

    ? Who could put up with OBAMA for 4 years < CNN an NBC .

    February 19, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  17. Bukky, Baltimore

    Isnt China a commnunist nation. Why araent they under an embargo/

    Didnt Saudi Arabia just try to jail a woman for BEING raped, and arent they puting another to death claiming she's a witch?

    You ask why the world hates us. Dont most people hate Hypocrites?

    February 19, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  18. tmd

    Live it to Hillary to turn this event into a campaign speech. "I will be that President".

    February 19, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  19. Tom Wittmann


    You hit the nail, especially when considering:

    He is stepping down as President and Commander, not as Chief of
    the Party. And as long he is able to send messages to the Cuban
    people, were he is, contrary to what the ultraright Cuban extremist
    in Miami say, amply supported (not so the other bonzos of the Party)
    nothing will change and RAUL will do excatly waht FIDEL wants.

    February 19, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  20. Bukky, Baltimore


    There is NO difference. Only that we are american and we feel that we can do what we want. It not Ok to hold people w/o Due process or Trial IF you want to do that, THEN you can't moan and groan about the likes of Ahmadinejad, Putin, Chavez, and Castro.

    February 19, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  21. Matthew

    As usual, Mike Huckabee's answer is the only one that really says anything or addresses the real problem. The others just parrot all the obvious lines in their own respective styles.

    February 19, 2008 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  22. Here in Britain

    I just hope your country starts to allow US citizens and travel to Cuba to see for themselves the problems your country's sanctions have caused the Cuban people.

    It's about time US politicians stood up to the ultra-right wing Cuban emigres and told them where to get off.

    February 19, 2008 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  23. bjpoole

    Who really cares. Lets start putting America first. We have trillion dollar budgets, China carrying out debt, energy prices out of controll, health care out of reach of manny Americans. When we are taken care of then I'll worry about Cuba.

    February 19, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  24. Chris

    I agree with the comment above mine. While a Raoul succession will yield some differences in Cuban policy, it will ultimately be another Castro regime. Sure, there are Cuban Americans who are entirely rejective of Castro. But, why does it seem that the natively Cuban people aren't celebrating as fondly as we are? I think it shows just how Castroism has become so embedded in Cuba's culture. In the end, the Cubans have to act as a people. Can they? It doesn't seem like we will know at least until after Raoul.

    February 19, 2008 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
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