Saturday, August 05, 2006

Castro illness: Views from Cuba and Miami

BBC

Friday, 4 August 2006, 16:10 GMT 17:10 UK

Cubans and Cuban exiles have spent the week adjusting to the announcement that Fidel Castro has undergone stomach surgery and temporarily ceded power to his brother, Raul.

In Cuba, life appears to be continuing as normal, while in Miami many Cuban exiles have been celebrating the news.

The BBC News website spoke to a Cuban in Havana and a Cuban exile in Miami about how their communities have reacted.

JORGE, HAVANA, CUBA

Here in Cuba, nothing has changed this week and nothing is going to change.

We are too organised and strong a people for that.

We expect our commandant Fidel Castro to continue with the strength of mind he has always had because it is his stomach that is the problem.

A man passes a sign that reads 'Socialism or Death' in Havana, Cuba
Jorge says nothing will change in Cuba, for now
If Raul, or anyone else, does eventually take charge, nothing will remain the same.

No-one has the charisma, the intelligence, the resilience or the international recognition that Fidel has.

Leaders like Fidel are only born once in a century.

For now we remain calm and we know that nothing is going to happen because, in spite of everything, all the Cubans are "Fidelistas" and we are united in this.

We don't want any Americans here because they will not solve anything. They did nothing in Grenada, El Salvador, Nicaragua, or Panama.

Anyway, our problems belong to us and with the Americans here it will not get any better.

They have lost all their battles with Fidel. How many times has Fidel told the United States a million truths about what happens in their own land?

Fidel is respected and people listen to him, which is something you can't say about other presidents.

Cuba's future is secure for now, under Fidel's rule. We will have to wait at least one more generation to see any change.

ANSELMO ALLIEGRO, MIAMI, FLORIDA, USA

There was a lot of jubilation here in Miami when news of Fidel's illness emerged.

I am not usually one for public displays of emotion but I did have a bottle of champagne put aside for a day like that.

We were initially unsure whether he was alive or dead, thinking his aides may just be delaying news of his death. But it looks like he is definitely incapacitated.

I don't think we will see him in power again. So what next? A transitional government headed up by Raul Castro, but I don't see that lasting longer than two years or so.

I then expect a coup from within, orchestrated by the more moderate elements within the transitional government.

Whether or not this will be a bloodless coup remains to be seen but I don't see any large-scale violence taking place in Cuba.

There are too many people that wish to see change take place.

I think it will be difficult to introduce democracy to Cuba, as there is no groundwork there for the introduction of political parties and a free press.

It may even take many more years than people would hope.

I left Havana in 1959 when my family fled during the Revolution.

My father was president of the Cuban congress and a member of the Batista government. We were all threatened with being shot by the firing squads so we had to leave.

I have never been able to return, unlike some exiles who have returned to see their family and friends, and my name remains on a black list.

I would love to be able to return if the right conditions are in place.

My 15-year-old granddaughter, who celebrated the news of Castro's illness, asked if I would bring her to Cuba one day. I would really like to be able to do that.

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JG: What Jorge has to say makes more sense to me. There will be -- I hope -- no "coup" in Cuba. There will be a peaceful succession decided by Cubans themselves. The best of Cuba is yet to come!

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