February 19th, 2008
12:20 PM ET
14 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. Surrealist, Ft. Myers, FL

    P.S. BTW:

    Hillary will remain silent until all candidates and Bush have weighed in.

    Then she will pick the most politcally expedient response.

    Where have you been?

    February 19, 2008 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  2. V

    To Ryan Smith,
    Universal Health care doesn't mean free government paid healthcare like in Canada and UK. You still have to pay for your health insurance.
    So you can still decide who will be your health care provider.

    February 19, 2008 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  3. ERIC

    Typical coverage of this race...headline says Obama/McCain comment but Hillary was first out with statement....per MSNBC

    PARMA, Ohio - 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.

    "I think this provides a great opportunity for the people of Cuba," Clinton said at an economic roundtable here. "I'm hoping that the new leadership will take steps to move Cuba toward democracy, release political prisoners, lift a lot of the oppressive burdens that have prevented the Cuban people from really having the kind of future that 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're willing to change. And so we're hoping that we'll see some evidence of that. But it is a very stark reminder that even if you've been in power for 50 years you cannot hold onto power forever and people of Cuba deserve to have leadership that respects their human rights and gives them the opportunity to fulfill their own destiny. 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."

    February 19, 2008 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  4. Jakki

    Jason, you are absolutely right; there is no difference, that is why Obama has also said consistently that "Guantanamo MUST BE CLOSED." Do not tell me that you haven't heard him say this in the past. People must be fair in their attacks. I believe that anyone who is unfairly imprisoned must be released; what is wrong with both Obama and McCain agreeing to this fact. Let me put all those who opposed to this point in prison just for having this view and see what they would say then. You wouldn't like it would you?

    Also, we need to stop being selfish and stop thinking selfishly, because the world doesn't evolves ONLY around us (America). That is why we are in the state that we are in today; always thinking us, and forgetting others. Oh, yes unless the others have something to offer us, that is. WAKE UP PEOPLE!

    Yes it is good that Castro step down, but it would even be better if the US lift the embargo, because Castro was not hurt at all during the embargo, because he kept and used everything for himself and his family; but instead the Cuban citizens were penalized and suffered heavily for it. So US stop punishing the Cuban people by trying to hurt Castro. Enough is Enough!

    February 19, 2008 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  5. Jeremy

    I think the American public is beginning to see the ruthless tactics and win-at-all costs the Clinton "Machine" is willing to take to win the nomination. Is this the kind of leader we want? A "real" leader does not spend pointing their finger at the competition, instead a "real" leader talks about their vision for the country and unites people from all walks of life!

    February 19, 2008 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  6. Peter Moore

    Why does the headline read "Obama, McCain" if Hillary Clinton also weighed in? Have the CNN.com editors decided for the rest of us who the nominees are?

    February 19, 2008 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  7. B from Miami, FL

    Hillary issued a statement but CNN has not commented on it whatsoever.

    February 19, 2008 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  8. Chris in Columbus

    Nobody cares about Huckabee because there is 0% chance he can win. McCain has the nomination unless he dies, that is fact.

    Nobody cares about Michelle Obama either. We care about Bill because he's an ex-president. Michelle is the equivilant of Laura Bush. Never did anything, never going to do anything, not going to do anything in the white house, no aspirations, so why should anyone care what she thinks? Only reason anyone cared about Hillary is because she kept putting herself into the presidency.

    Vote for the candidates, not who they're married to. Sad that the Hillary camp is reduced to picking apart words instead of actually running. Never mind they've completely lost their lead in Texas, losing it in Ohio, and are gonna get swept today.

    February 19, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  9. Michelle D. Atlanta, GA

    At least they get proper medical attention in Cuba. Has anyone seen Michael Moore's film, SICKO?

    I grew up in Miami. Witnessed the Marielito boatlifts personally. The Cuban exiles have changed the face and culture of Miami and S. Florida...some would argue not necessarily for the better.

    I strongly believe that people should not be opressed or denied their ability to live in a free society where they can speak their mind and live the "American Dream". If they are willing to leave their own country under perilous circumstances and try to come to America, then we should legalize and tax them. Lord knows we could use the extra revenue. This goes for mexican immigrants, cuban immigrants, middle eastern immigrants, asian immigrants, etc. After all, where did WE come from and whose country did we overrun? What people did WE opress?

    February 19, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  10. Margie-Overland Park, Ks.

    Get back to the issues that really matter like, UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE, GLOBAL WARMING, DECENT PAYING JOBS!! We have enough issues in this country to get addressed. Stop nick picking about who said what about Cuba people. We need to clean the dust bunnies in our home which is currently known as the USA!

    February 19, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  11. Charlotte NC

    The New York Times quotes McCain, Obama and HILLARY.

    February 19, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  12. Amy

    As a cuban, Frankly nothing will change as long as Raul is serving as President.

    I love how Hillary supporters are on here trying to poke fun at the Obama people.

    They should be working to HELP there candidate.

    February 19, 2008 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  13. Patty

    CNN is awful. Hillary made comments too, but who gets the headline on CNN.com-Obama (the plagarizer) and McCain. CNN is being paid by Oprah to make Obama always in the news in a good light, while they downplay or twist and criticize Hillary. Boo-CNN! Learn to be impartial if you are to report on news!

    February 19, 2008 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  14. Houston

    I would like to see some comments posted by Cuban people living here in the USA and also by first generation Cuban-Americans about Castros's decision to step down.

    February 19, 2008 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  15. Stop the Cult of Personality

    This is a laugh. Obviously Hillary has made a comment about this Castro thing, but CNN is refusing to print it or cover it because they have bought into the Cult of Obamabot. Evil is rearing its ugly head. Wake up people: You are being herded like cattle.

    February 19, 2008 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  16. Sue

    It's too bad that Michelle Obama has been ashamed of her country for all of her adult life and has found nothing to be proud of. It's even more shameful that the media has chosen not to cover her bizarre statement. If one of the Clintons had done that, it would be all over CNN and MSNBC.

    February 19, 2008 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  17. Don from IN

    I, being from the midwest, and not coming into contact with many Cubans on a regular basis, really have no clue what it is like to live in Cuba. I also know that I can not rely on our politicians or media to give me the truth. The U.S. has its' own problems with freedom and democracy to deal with. If you believe Michale Moores' Sicko at least Cuba has a well run govt health care program. I don't know. I just know the United States can be very hypocritical when dealing with foreign countries and how we deal with our own people.

    February 19, 2008 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  18. Ann

    The title of the Ticker is: Obama, John McCain on Castro,
    But in the article, it reported the commend from Hillary Clinton.

    So, Hillary Clinton is missed from the title, intentionally by News writer from CNN.

    why does it happen???? You are the news reporter, you should just report the news without any bias.

    Shame on you.

    February 19, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  19. Ann, Los Angeles

    You folks are nuts or you can't read....Senator Clintons comments are in the body of the report. Just read it if you can!!!!!!!!!! And of course CNN did Obama then McCain then Clinton but her remarks are there....no wonder ya all think Obama is so good – he can read!

    February 19, 2008 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  20. eddie

    Obama stole that statement too

    February 19, 2008 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  21. Phil

    It's hilarious listening to all these hypocritical, power-hungry thugs running for the Presidency intimating that Castro was somehow less moral than themselves.

    Only a fool educated by the American public school brainwashing system would believe that there's freedom of choice in a Republic where the candidates are preselected by party bosses operating the campaign machinery, financed by their wealthy donors to ensure disproportionate visibility, then preordained by a media that decides which candidates and parties you should not be exposed to prior to election day.

    Although there are many negative things I could say about this leader of someone else's country, to his credit he stood up to all the buffeting the US empire could dish out. I'm sure American businessmen are hungering for the opportunity to turn Havana back into a den of casinos and hookers subjugated to US arrogance. Until the US is anything more than a utopia of greed, overconsumption, and stupidity perhaps the candidates should set their laserscope sights on the business corruption and white collar crime that enables their own campaigns. America, clean up your own back yard.

    February 19, 2008 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  22. Bill Kane

    I think that we should continue to treat Cuba as we have for the last 48 years. The exchange of diplomats; limited, but ever growing trade; the free flow of communications; and, of course, the ability of people to move back and forth between the two countries has softly undercut the Castro regime – what a brilliant strategy!

    Oh, wait a minute.......

    Never mind.....

    February 19, 2008 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  23. Chris, Orlando, FL

    Obviously the early readers of this piece who commented that Hillary's campaign hasn't issued a press release or statement are new to CNN.com. You see, CNN will do anything to cast a cloud over Clinton's candidacy, including, headlining only the remarks of Senator McCain and Obama. Stick around long enough, you early bloggers, and you'll see the bias spin that has become a CNN hallmark in this election cycle.

    February 19, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  24. Lin

    was it really Obama's own statement?

    February 19, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  25. Jason

    Independent Observer

    Are you absolutely positive that all these individuals are, as you put it "Unrepentant murderers" or do you just believe that because your government tells you they are? Your Government also told you there were WMD's in Iraq. How did that work out for you? Here is a news flash for you that you may not know.... Governments sometimes stretch the truth to push their political ambitions. If you don't know that with the administration you have then I am afraid that there is no hope for you at all. Could there be a remote possibillity that maybe one or two of these people in Gitmo are innocent? I guess with no trial or civil rights we can just trust that your Government is right on this on.....

    February 19, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
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