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February 19, 2008 

Castro Resigns as Cuba's President and Commander-in-Chief

As has been widely reported, Fidel Castro announced today that he will not seek reelection to serve as president and commander-in-chief of Cuba, after serving for nearly 50 years as the country's leader. The English translation of Castro's resignation letter that was published in Cuba's Granma newspaper can be found here.

As the Miami Herald points out Castro's decision to step down is unlikely to change U.S. policy towards Cuba in the short term and any significant policy changes are unlikely to occur until Castro's death.

Meanwhile, Reuters recently reported that U.S. producers sold $437.5 million in food to Cuba in 2007, after falling the previous two years. Although the article notes that "Alimport president Pedro Alvarez said the increased value of Cuban purchases last year reflect higher world food prices, not greater volume" and that Cuba's trade with the U.S. is "is flat."

Update: Not surprisingly, Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte said this morning said that the U.S. will not lift the embargo on Cuba "anytime soon".

Update 2: The statement by Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez, who was born in Cuba and serves as Co-Chair of the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba, can be found here.

Update 3: The Miami Herald's "Preparing for Cuba" series, which examines prospective post-Cuba embargo business possibilities can be found here.

Update 4: New York Times Wednesday: Castro Circle Likely to Hold Power After His Resignation.




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