February 19th, 2008
12:20 PM ET
13 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. Celia Cipriani

    Unfortunately things will not change in Cuba as his Brother will be taking over and Fidel Castro will be pulling the strings.

    I hear that Cuba is a very Beautiful Island but it is a shame that people from around the world cannot enjoy same.

    February 19, 2008 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  2. Give Obama a chance

    How do all you guys know that Obama doesn't mean what he says, when he promises to visit Cuba's leaders?! Give him a chance Hillary supporters, we are both democrats

    February 19, 2008 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  3. She's IN to WIN

    Hey people...if you bothered to actually read the article you would see that Hillary DID make a comment. CNN, in it's Obama spin reporting made it appear that she didn't! Read on. Pay attention. Words matter in journalism. Are you paying attention CNN?
    Go HILLARY!

    February 19, 2008 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  4. Mike- PGH, PA

    Why should we care what Obama thinks?? The race is not over for the Dem. nominee. However, CNN is doing everything in there power to make it seem that way. They have been slanted toward Obama for weeks now.

    February 19, 2008 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  5. Grif

    To me? Just another part of History...

    Another new Democracy, given the chance ti relocate...

    But Democracy means the people, not another supression...

    February 19, 2008 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  6. Jackie, Dallas TX

    This article includes comments from all the leading presidential candidates, including Hillary Clinton. She was not left out, nor did she fail to comment. There are comments from Huckabee here also. We're only missing Ron Paul. Calm down folks and don't be so quick to go into attack the opposition mode! Also, many of the attack comments are erroneous. Judging by the apparent inability to read and digest information as evidenced with the comments to this article, I'm not surprised. What is surprising is our apparent lack of reading comprehension skills. Education should be a MAJOR priority for this nation!

    February 19, 2008 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  7. Jim

    Seems the Obama supporters didn't read the article, only the CNN headline; "Obama and McCain address Castro" no mention of Hillary and the blind ignorant Obama supports accept it. I guess that's why he has to give so many speeches, since his followers can't read.

    February 19, 2008 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  8. Joanna

    Statement from Hillary Clinton on Fidel Castro
    "As you know, Fidel Castro announced that he is stepping down as Cuba's leader after nearly 50 years of one-man rule. The new leadership in Cuba will face a stark choice - continue with the failed policies of the past that have stifled democratic freedoms and stunted economic growth - or take a historic step to bring Cuba into the community of democratic nations. The people of Cuba want to seize this opportunity for real change and so must we.

    "I would say to the new leadership, the people of the United States are ready to meet you if you move forward towards the path of democracy, with real, substantial reforms. The people of Cuba yearn for the opportunity to get out from under the weight of this authoritarian regime, which has held back 11 million talented and hardworking citizens of the Americas. The new government should take this opportunity to release political prisoners and to take serious steps towards democracy that give their people a real voice in their government.

    "The American people have been on the side in the Cuban people's struggle for freedom and democracy in the past and we will be on their side for democracy in the future.

    "As President, I will engage our partners in Latin America and Europe who have a strong stake in seeing a peaceful transition to democracy in Cuba, and who want very much for the United States to play a constructive role to that end. The United States must pursue an active policy that does everything possible to advance the cause of freedom, democracy and opportunity in Cuba.

    "The events of the past three days, including elections in Pakistan and Kosovo's declaration of independence, are a vivid illustration of people around the world yearning for democracy and opportunity. We need a President with the experience to recognize and seize these opportunities to advance America’s values and interests around the world. I will be that President."

    February 19, 2008 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  9. Margaret

    Is there a reason CNN did not reference Senator Clinton's statement regarding Castro???

    February 19, 2008 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  10. April

    She did comment. Did anyone actually READ the article??????

    February 19, 2008 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  11. mike

    As a Cuban American I love the USA from day one, ( 35 years ago) I entered this country, and always will be proud of being an America. I love this country, feel bad that a lot of my relatives died and could not even go back to pay my respects. I will open the first McDonalds in Cuba and all my American homies will eat for free!

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

    Lets follow Cuba's lead......NO MONARCHY, NO FAMILY REGIMES!!!!

    Obama 08

    February 19, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  13. Wilma, in georgia

    "Obama says he has a Dream", "America Has a Dream ". but if Obama is in your Dream,i hope ya'll wake up before it's too late.Ya'll are having a nightmare.

    GO HILLARY 2008

    February 19, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  14. Ann, Los Angeles

    Also....for what it is worth – Senator Obama missed 33% more votes than Senator Clinton did in the Senate...the other day CNN did a report on just that. Sorry Senator Obama supporters but I guess if CNN says it is so – it is. So I guess it is 'follow the leader' and the leader is Senator Clinton. Just a matter of priorities!

    One other thing that does bother me however is that Senator Obama voted against a bill that would have "prohibited authorized committees and leadership PAC's from employing spouses or immediate family..."

    I think that means he does support PAC's which is 100% contrary to his claims during his speeches. I think he is counting on the fact that no one really does read anymore – they just listen to speeches.

    Hope the people in Hawaii and Wisconsin can pull it through for Senator Clinton. She is the leader and does far more for the core values of the Democratic Party than Senator Obama ever thought of doing! She would not forget the people when she is in office – nor will she forget the voters of Michigan and Florida. Senator Obama for his own person political gain will disenfrancise those voters. Now that is shameful!

    February 19, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  15. Not So Fast

    Hey Obama and McCain – neither of you are President yet. Let's leave this matter to the sitting President. Try as you may to look presidential our foreign policy is not the arena for you all to play.

    February 19, 2008 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  16. Lisa

    Obama...

    "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.

    Versus Hillary...

    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.

    So which one has a solution and which one has a speech? Perhaps CNN didn't include her comment earlier because they were giving her a chance to give us something with a bit more meat than SOME action with SOME evidence of completion.

    And, though I am a democrat, I agree McCain has had the best response so far...

    February 19, 2008 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  17. Mike Birmingham, AL

    I'm trying to figure out the difference here...

    China is communist, imprisons people of conscience, and oppresses it's population...and they are our most favored trading nation.

    Cuba does the same thing and we try and starve them to death?

    Good thing Cuba has a booming tourist business – except for Americans, that is.

    February 19, 2008 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  18. AAK

    Hey people....read the article, don't just comment on the headline!
    Hillary did comment, only CNN spinned it otherwise. Pay attention. Read on. Words do matter. Especially in journalism. Are you listening CNN?
    Go Hillary!!

    February 19, 2008 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  19. Jackson

    So few people who commented here actually read the article ... Hillary did comment ... once again, the Media bias ... put Obama's name in the title of the article.

    Hillary '08

    February 19, 2008 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  20. Marlene in CLT

    Steve, 12:10pm:

    "I would have liked John or Barack to have thanked Castro for stepping down and reaching out a hand to the next leader . . . "

    Steve, that's a really great and thoughtful comment. I hope we see a move in that direction very soon and I'd bet if anyone shifts that way, it will be Obama (if he hasn't already from behind the scenes).

    February 19, 2008 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  21. Don't count out Hilary!

    Obama's opinion does not matter and nothing will change in Cuba over this. Am I the only one tired of hearing Obama give speaches? This guy thinks everytime he has something to say the earth moves. Dear Sen. Obama: YOU ARE NOT DR. KING!!

    February 19, 2008 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  22. AJ

    Interesting. Even more interesting is a remark made by that disgusting Michelle Obama who today said that “for the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country.

    This creature is 44 years old and the only time she can say something good about america is when her husband might be winning a national campaign? What a racist pig!

    Well for the first time in my life, I am not proud of America. Black America is voting the racist block. White America appears to have all take stupid pills and are buying the rhetoric that this lying cheating empty suit is spewing.

    If Obama wins, for me it's McCain 08, yeah yeah go go!!

    I have never voted for a republican previously but we democrats have never run such a worthless human being (except for maybe Ted Kennedy.)

    February 19, 2008 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  23. Tony

    Bla.., blaa..., propaganda, propaganda, and some more propaganda. I am an Obama supporter but I guess this is the first issue I find we disagree. I agree USA is good to encourage democratic processes in other countries but it should not pick on specific countries and try "to fix them". We saw what happened in Vietnam, we see what is happening in Iraq. What if USA decides to "fix" Iran, China, Saudi Arabia, etc, etc. How to compare freedoms in Cuba, with all the social benefits that people enjoy, and say a monarchy governed by the Koran. Still, there is embargo on Cuba for "whatever reasons" (I guess not to upset wealthy Cubans waiting to spread wild capitalism/democracy in Cuba) and not in other countries where "freedoms" may be worse.

    February 19, 2008 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  24. SF, CA

    Does Obama even know who Castro is?

    I mean, this is the man who thought that Canada has a president.

    February 19, 2008 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  25. Zach

    CNN is headlining Obama and McCain but doesn't mention Clinton. CNN is also showing double standards on the charges of plagiarism on Obama. Does the network really think people are so fickle?

    February 19, 2008 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
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