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. Jasmine

    Why did the front page link for this article say, "Ticker: Obama, McCain on Castro", when it fact it was Obama, McCain, and Hillary Clinton?! Your article says so. Sort of an inaccurate headline, isn't it? Especially considering that Hillary said it out loud and in public – the other one's merely issued statements.

    I've seen so much of this in this campaign. The media has been incredibly unhelpful throughout the entire primary season.

    February 19, 2008 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  2. Mike Birmingham, AL

    oh yeah...Cuba's literacy rate is 100%.

    Hey George W. – if Cuba isn't leaving their children behind, why are we?

    February 19, 2008 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  3. Lawlesseyes

    Hillary has posted a statement about Fidel Castro stepping down. If you all would stop bickering and check out the article again, you can read it. Of course you have to dig for it. As usual CNN has buried it in the Oborme/Mccain article and neglected her name in the title.

    Hillary 08

    February 19, 2008 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  4. Jeff

    John McCain's comments regarding what America should do to hasten the democratization of Cuba begs one question: Why don't we just invade and occupy Cuba, kill its leader and install a puppet government? Seemed to work so well in Iraq. Oh wait, Cuba doesn't have the two things Republicans value more that democracy: oil and access to more oil. The neocons agenda is so transparent.

    February 19, 2008 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  5. Oh! The Irony

    Lisa wrote:

    Freedom equals universal health care?!?!?! Under Hillary's plan, she–not I– will decide how much I can afford to pay for health care and deduct it from my pay check or fine me. That doesn't sound free to me.


    Finally an opinion I can agree with. I don't understand why people think the Government forcing you into health care coverage under their terms is a great thing.

    February 19, 2008 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  6. Zach H.

    The Clinton camp did find any documents relating to Castro and Cuba when they burglarized the Edwards Campaign headquarters. So at least she had to have one of her paid policy analysts come up with something of their own this time. The Clinton camp's ludicrous attempt to steal John Edwards populist message is a real shame for Democrats. As Edwards said on many occasions in some form or another "this is something you have inside of you, it is part of who you are". The Clinton camp does not understand that you cannot manufacture populism. If this new political ploy does not work then what is left for Team Clinton? A leftist stab at socialism? Not sure who they would steal those ideas from at this point in time. However, as real democrats, we need to protect the ideals of populism and not let campaigns disgrace it's concepts.

    Zach H.

    February 19, 2008 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  7. Anonymous

    obama time

    February 19, 2008 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  8. Charlestonbill

    I was in SC during the Cuba missle crisis. We had drills where we had to get under our desks to practice for a strike. This was under Castro's watch. I'm glad to see him go. Hope his brother moves to give those folks some freedom. I think is is kinda nice to even be able to leave this comment. You can't do this in Cuba today!

    February 19, 2008 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  9. Heidi, Ohio

    What I would really like to know is why the news media is so obviously biased toward Barack Obama. Hillary Clinton is not getting fair treatment by the media and CNN is one of the worst offenders. I honestly don't understand it. Today for example they are reporting that the race is a dead heat in Texas. The Rasmussen poll has Hillary ahead 54% to 38%, but they don't mention that. She is also far ahead in every other state that votes on March 4 including my state, Ohio. But they don't mention that. They pick the most negative thing they can find and run the story for days. What is going on here? I was at a Bill Clinton rally in Ohio over the weekend and there were hecklers (not about Hillary specificly, but about the Democratic stance on abortion in general). President Clinton handled it extremely well, and was overly fair with the heckler. The crowd went wild with support for Bill Clinton jumping to their feet and applauding wildly in support of him. CNN portrayed the entire incident incorrectly and made it look like Bill Clinton was heckled about Hillary (which he wasn't) and that he was angry and rude to the heckler, which was so far from the truth it's disgusting. This is a pattern with the news media that I'm really getting tired of quite frankly. This is not a fair fight. They are leading the public with half truths at best. This needs to stop. Could someone from CNN please respond as to why the media has decided for us that Barack Obama should be the next Democratic presidential nominee and is doing everything in their power (which, unfortunately, is immense) to lead the public into believing it as well? Please just report the news fairly and accurately and let the voters decide for themselves.

    February 19, 2008 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  10. Jordan Calder

    The last time America got involved in Cuban government, Cuba was ruled by an iron-fisted oligarchy clad in Armani suits; or, the Batista Regime. The BEST thing the next President of the United States could do for Cuba, and indeed, any other country it has qualms with, is refrain from using clandestine methods to influence or control government.

    February 19, 2008 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  11. April

    As one Obama supporter so aptly put, "come into the light, come into light" (and this isn't a cult?) Instead of reading just the CNN Obama spin headline, why not try reading the whole thing. What a concept.
    HILLARY DID COMMENT. Most likely not written by a 26 year old. Pay attention everyone. This is important stuff. Not the best season of SURVIVOR ever! Words matter. Especially in journalism...got that CNN?
    Go Hillary

    February 19, 2008 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  12. Bubba

    I hear he's turned over his power to his brother Jeb.

    February 19, 2008 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  13. Rosa

    Nothing will change.
    The US won't do the right thing.
    The Cuban lobbyist regime will continue to push for failed policies.

    February 19, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  14. Randy - Denver

    A silent thanks for Mr. castro stepping down, his brother has run Cuba for the last short while and will continue on in that role for the forseeable future, with his brothers (Fidel) help and guidance. Mr. Obama has stated he will be willing to talk with our enemies, without preconditions, Ms. Clinton has stated she will not do that, Mr. McCain has stated he will not do that. All three have released statements saying basically the same thing, it is good Mr. castro steppped down now we must step in and help the Cubans towards democracy. Mr Obama has told us how he will do it, so now Ms. Clinton and Mr. McCain tell us how will you do it? What preconditions will you place on Cuba to start the talks that will eventually lead to democracy in Cuba? What must they do so you will deign to talk with them?

    February 19, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  15. JimS.

    It's amazing that CNN can't pull their noses out of Obama's butt fast enough to rush an article to press, including only McCain and Obama's statements. They don't bother to look for anything for the article from Clinton and Huckabee, in their hysterical haste. Then predictably all the Obamabots say "Where is Hillary?".

    Would you even KNOW if Hillary's statement might even have been out before Obama's? And you all point to the lack of any comments from Clinton (or Huckabee) and blame Clinton.


    This reporting is so biased it's disgusting.

    February 19, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  16. Allen blair

    Obama's answer to Tuesday question of the resignation of Cuban President Fidel Castro should "mark the end of a dark era in Cuba's history."
    "The prompt release of all prisoners of conscience wrongly jailed"
    This is the basically the same answer McCain gave during his interview. This should show the American people that he can't think on his own. The only thing I've heard from his campaign is "I have a Dream", Words do matter, etc. Does he have any quotes for resolving the issues within the U.S and other countries around the world? Why doesn't CNN press him on those issues instead of bashing Hillary every time she gives a speech?

    February 19, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  17. Obama Supporter

    Freedom is coming to Cuba!

    vote Obama '08

    February 19, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  18. Betsy

    Shame on you CNN for waiting so long to post Hillary's and Huckabee's responses.

    Where's the unbaised reporting?

    February 19, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  19. Mike

    Interesting that CNN continues to (ab)use its editorial discretion to spin for Obama. Notably, you've reported the comments in the following order: Obama, THEN McCain, THEN, finally, Clinton.

    Interesting decision, particularly since Obama and Clinton are both candidates for the Democratic nominee, yet you decided to insert McCain in between. If this was designed to ensure that Obama followers with the seeming attention span of gnats would quit reading halfway through, ERRONEOUSLY concluding that Senator Clinton had not weighed in at all, congrats. You succeeded once again, CNN, to mislead.

    By the way, to all of you who are asking "where is Hillary," she responded immediately - not that you would know it from this sort of biased reporting.

    I wish the "reporters" from CNN, MSNBC, and other mainstream media would quite wasting everyone's time and simply call Obama and ask him for a date. Obviously, there is quite a love affair there.

    February 19, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  20. Gavin

    Absolutely I think HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON will be the kind of leader that will stand up and press hard for change in Cuba - ITS A NEW PRESIDENT HERE, AND A NEW CUBE PERHAPS.

    Now, more than ever, I think we need Hillary for that foreign relations experience and tact that she undoutedly has.


    February 19, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  21. Karen

    Fidel Castro is not an issue of Hillary, Barack or John M. but of people around the globe especially Cubans. Cubans here in American and those in their homeland do not know what their future holds. Hopefully the US can be a friend and offer aid but not dictate as they have done in Iraq.

    Shame on CNN for its continued biasness of the candidates based on who "they've" elected. The media has made a mess out of both party’s primaries by airing gossip, innuendos and nothing of substance of the candidates on issues.

    February 19, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  22. Jesus

    USA don't want "democracy", they want a government that they can manipulate...that is so obvious...

    February 19, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  23. Diogo

    That's ironic:

    The majority of innocent political prisoner being held illegaly in Cuba are not Castro's doing. They are being tortured by the US in Guantanamo Bay.

    February 19, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  24. John from Miami

    Kevin from Alaska... I hope you stay up there. Tell all of my family left behind in Cuba that they have free healthcare, dimwhit.

    Clinton is more of the same. McCain is more of the same. Obama is the only candidate to offer a different approach to resolving the issue of totalitarianism in Cuba. Lets open up communication with them!! Cuba will begin to turn a new page of history once the people of Cuba experience what a free world is like.

    Thank GOD its less than a year until January, when we can all breathe a breath of fresh air and usher in a new period in our OWN history!

    Cubanos por Obama!


    February 19, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  25. Julie

    Does anyone know why Castro came into power? Could it be because when the US "freed" the Cubans from Spanish control, we wrote into their constituion that the US can basically dictate domestic politics in Cuba? That doesn't sound freedom to me. While I don't agree with how Castro ruled Cuba, at least he freed Cubans from American control. Unfortunately our policies in Cuba allowed this to happen- Cubans just wanted to be free. And they were, but then they got Castro. Good job US gov't. After you create the conditions for him to rise to power, you cut aid to Cuba so the people remain impoverished. So sad. 🙁

    Most people don't question why we have Guantanamo Bay- hmmm, could it be because we controlled Cuban politics for so long?

    February 19, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
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