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. Jeannie, Atlanta Georgia

    Well, let's see if CNN will post THIS comment. Since my earlier one was not included. I am a Cuban/American, came to U.S.A when I was six years old in 1971 with my parents.

    Since the Iraq war I've wondered why America was so ready to go half way around the world to free the Iraqis from their "so called" dictator and here we have an Island only 90 miles away from the Florida coastline. Why? because Cuba only has sugar cane and cigars.
    Iraq = OIL. It's really that simple.

    I am also against the embargo because it only allows the Cuban gov't to use that as an excuse for the communist system not to work.
    And by the way, GO HILLARY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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

    When Terry McCauliffe, Hillary's Campaign Manager, visited South Carolina in December, he told us that Hillary would be willing to sit down and negotiate with Hamas! She won't talk to legitimate heads of state, but she will talk to a terrorist organization!

    America can't afford her dangerous brand of "leadership"!!!

    OBAMA 08

    February 19, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  3. Jesus

    So USA "wants" "democracy" for Cuba? or is USA thinking on a Government that they can manipulate (not work with it, but actually manipulate it!)

    February 19, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  4. demwit

    Wonderful News!

    Now we can all move to Cuba for free health care!!

    February 19, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  5. Brian Tampa, FL

    If you want universal health care please move to Cuba or Canada. It has no place in America. We are free market people not socialists who believe every problem must be fixed by a big Government agency. What has the US Government ever run well? Why would you think health care would be any different.

    We are based on Adam Smith not Carl Marx, start making your own life better, stay out of my pocket! My taxes are not charitable contributions, Democrats always confuse the two.

    February 19, 2008 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  6. Paul from Kissimmee

    Castro's brother will be in power anyway. I don't think that it will change a thing. Remember, it's been like this for almost 50 years. That's a lifetime for alot of people. Raul Castro will be just like his brother. Nobody will dare challenge him because of fear of imprisonment. I would like to see him release the political prisoners, and take a national vote on whether to hold a general election, or keep the dictatorship. This is the only way to find out what Cuba truly wants. They may actually feel safe with what they have. We have Americans here that would like the government to make decisions for them.

    February 19, 2008 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  7. Crystal in CA

    Hillary released a statement, unless I am reading the article wrong.

    Come on people. Stop being so critical...taking every opportunity to bash a candidate. Take a moment off. Even though I am an Obama supporter, I don't think this event is cause for an attack on Hillary....nor Obama.

    I hope this development does bring change for the people of Cuba. The US embargo has gone on far too long.

    February 19, 2008 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  8. Eric

    All comments on this issue from a candidate for President should be taken with a grain of salt. The Cuban immigrant lobby is fiercely anti-Castro (obviously) and they are a very powerful political block. To say anything to upset them would be political suicide in that important state.

    That being said, maybe it is a weakness in our democracy that a small minority can hold a part of our foreign policy hostage, even if it is against the best interests of our country and other countries affected. Our policy towards Israel could also fall into this catagory.

    I believe increased co-operation and economic ties would improve things 10 times faster than no diplomatic relations and this insane embargo.

    February 19, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  9. Barbara-California

    Read the contrast in the statements by Obama and Clinton.

    He sounds like "Presidential material", .................she uses ...way too many adjectives, ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,his statement sounds like it is made by someone that is the head of a country; hers sounds like a "wanna-be."

    End of story.

    I am not even a Democrat, but I can see who deserves to be the nominee!

    February 19, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  10. Tevin

    Helped Iraq?or messed it UP?

    February 19, 2008 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  11. jozef

    I posted the comment ,that Obama may one day "borrow" Fidel Castro's words,why not (just words)should they gain some political capital.Why does not my comment appear in comment section?
    CNN=for Obama only?

    February 19, 2008 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  12. Sue Abraham from Illinois

    The idiots who claim that Hillary didn't comment on Castro's resignations should learn to check their information before commenting. Hillary was the first to comment. This article didn't mention her name until lately. And when they added her name it was at the end of the aticle. As always, the same pattern of deception and misleading to the public. Shame on you CNN.

    February 19, 2008 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  13. Anonymous

    Its time for the USA to bring freedom to Cuba. We must go in there and build McDonald's, GAP stores and Walmarts in every corner, those poor people have been repressed for so long my God. They need to experience the joy of the American way of life. We can provide them with nice credit cards so they can build their credit and get lots of stuff.

    i say once we take over, we let them go to Disney World so they can catch up in their lives.

    I wonder if any of these clowns running for king here have ever visited Cuba.
    [/sarcasm off]

    February 19, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  14. Connie

    Read Hillary's statement on her site...talking about moving forward from the politics of the past and looking towards change...ARE THESE WORDS NOT OF OBAMA'S campaign??? I CALL PLAGERISM!! Take the topic of Cuba out of it, and her whole statement is Obama's campaign. Pitiful!!

    February 19, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  15. jozef

    For Lisa,
    but if you decide you don't want or can not afford healthcare insurance,then when you get hit by a car,you should be left there without help,you decided for yourself.

    February 19, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  16. Shannon Shiflett

    I wish the fake Christians (Republicans and conservatives) and fake patriots would stop talking about freedom as they clearly don't understand it. They don't seem to care about freedom when it means they get cheap stuff from communist China.

    February 19, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  17. kevin from alaska

    Lisa: I'm not talking about Hillary's health care plan. I'm saying in Cuba, they have free health care. Here we don't. Hillary's plan won't change that.

    February 19, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  18. Shannon Shiflett

    John, thank you - this has nothing to do with freedom, liberty, or people - it has everything to do with money and power, which is why Saudi Arabia and China get a free ride but Cuba does not. And the idiots keep regurgitating the propaganda like nice trained monkeys.

    February 19th, 2008 12:22 pm ET
    I am no fan of Castro, but why do we treat Communist China different from Communist Cuba?

    If you were a female would you rather live in Cuba where you have limited rights or Saudia Arabia[American Ally] where you have virtually no rights?

    The answers are simple economics=China, oil=Saudia Arabia.

    Why don't we demand democratic elections in China, Saudia Arabia, Russia, etc.?

    February 19, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  19. steve

    It seems that all the candidates tout the same line about Castro. It's good, but not good enough. However, the U.S. embargo makes NO sense whatsoever. It is not even Cold War. During the Cold War, atleast we maintained lines of communication open with the USSR and democracy took hold because the rest of the world was open to it. We didn't isolate the USSR. Isolating Cuba will just make the process much longer. What better way to allow democracy to take hold, by opening up trade with Cuba and deal with the other issues politically.

    February 19, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  20. allie

    Cuba is beautiful island. It would be so great for all the people to get democracy. I know how they struggle.
    Obama is talker. He will discuss and talk and talk. Some people are chatters, some are doers. He is a chatter.
    But if USA will help, we should be first to get help, we need it most right now.
    I think it is easier to see other countries needs than our own. It is like with mess in house : the spouse sees his/hers spouse more than his/hers own.

    February 19, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  21. Jonny Cashmore (Canada)

    As a concerned Canadian, I can't help but wonder if any American poilitician will bother to address the fact that Fidel Castro only exists because of The American Governments support of fascism (not democracy) while supporting Batista.

    All Americans must learn about that in school surely!? Or Pinochet? The average American must know who he is......right?

    Canada and it's citizens would like to request that the American people stop "helping" other countries become more "democratic" (I'm not sure how you do this by supporting fascist dictators), and instead start focusing more time on the problems within your own nation. Rampant gun violence, childish attitude towards sexuality. etc.


    The Citizens of Canada

    February 19, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  22. Canadian_Murse

    I wonder if this “help” to Cuba will resemble the “help” you guys are giving to Iraq…

    February 19, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  23. kendall

    Hillary has made a statement about castro and Cuba. She did so immediately and you can find it on her website. CNN has chosen not to report on her statement, thus revealing once again, how pro Obama they are. In fact, I pointed this out in a response to this blog two hours ago and my response has not been posted. Hillary doesn't deserve this knd of treatment and neither do the American people.

    February 19, 2008 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  24. Dem

    People, people! Let's not forget that the president, whoever that will be, is just ONE person! Not EVERYTHING is going to change overnight. And for those of you who keep asking "Where's Hillary?" You obviously fail to see the bias of the media and are easily swayed through manipulative reporting. SHE DID MAKE A STATEMENT!! Honestly people.....

    February 19, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  25. Corky

    Check her web site......its there

    February 19, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
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