Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Fidel Castro Resigns as Head of Cuba's Communist Party

Actually, Los Angeles Times says he was removed as leader: "Fidel Castro officially removed as head of Cuban Communist Party." And noted there, Castro received a "sustained standing ovation" as he walked to the dais with the help of an aide. Also, at Wall Street Journal, "Cuba's New Guard Borrows From the Old Guard":
Cuba's ruling Communist Party named President Raúl Castro as its new leader and chose an aging former guerrilla as second-in-command Tuesday, dashing hopes the party might choose younger politicians to implement key reforms to the island's economy and introduce fresh ideas.

At the end of the first Communist Party assembly in 14 years, Mr. Castro, 79 years old, was ratified as first secretary, succeeding his brother Fidel, who last month said he had vacated the position. The party also tapped José Ramón Machado, 80, a hard-liner, as Mr. Castro's second-in-line.

While the choice of Mr. Castro was expected, the appointment of Mr. Machado, a vice president and former guerrilla fighter during the 1959 revolution, disappointed those who thought the party might introduce new faces to help manage major economic reforms that are planned.

The Cuban economy grew just 1.9% last year and the country's top leaders, including Fidel Castro, are old men. The party summit had been seen as a key chance for party leaders to manage change before it is thrust upon them by events, be it death or demands for change by the Cuban people.

"They're keeping to the hard-line, ideological old guard," said Uva de Aragón, associate director of the Cuban Research Institute at Florida International University. "The problem is you can't have Stalin and Lenin trying to be Gorbachev at the same time."