Tuesday, February 19, 2008

'Cubans Hope Raul Castro Brings Reform'

AP story here.

Now that Fidel Castro has retired, many Cubans are looking to his brother to let more people open businesses, own homes and even travel abroad. But it will probably fall to a new generation of leaders to ultimately fulfill or frustrate their dreams of prosperity.

During his 1 1/2 years as acting president, 76-year-old Raul Castro has hinted at reform but made few major changes — a reticence many see as a sign of respect for his beloved, more doctrinaire older brother, who survived despite the efforts of 10 U.S. presidents to bring him down.

And while hoping that Raul and his likely No. 2, Carlos Lage, will advocate for change, they wonder how that will fly with Fidel, who stepped down but isn't going away.

"There has to be some change, more freedom with Raul," said Andres, 63, who like many Cubans wouldn't give his last name for fear of reprisal when talking about the Castro brothers. "The other one always nipped that off at the bud."

The resignation, announced Tuesday, should give Raul Castro the autonomy he lacked as the government's caretaker since Fidel was sidelined by intestinal surgery in July 2006. . . .

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