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Cuba Libre?

DW staff (jg)February 20, 2008

A day after the ailing Cuban leader Fidel Castro announced his intention to resign after almost 50 years, Europe's press considers what this will mean for the Caribbean island and how the rest of the world should react.

Castro grasping his forehead. Picture bisected by a flag
Europe's press is divided over the upshot of Castro's announcementImage: AP

"The last thing that the Cubans need in the difficult transition period ahead is advice from outside, from neo-liberal redeemers and democratic smart alecks," wrote Switzerland's Tagesanzeiger. "Above all, the United States should show restraint, particularly because its relationship with the island 150 kilometers off Miami is on the verge of being neurotic."

"The country can only seize the chance to start afresh if its almighty neighbor gives it that opportunity," the Zurich-based paper added.

Germany's Frankfurter Rundschau concluded that the outlook for Cuba was not optimistic because of the failure of Castro's Cuba. "Many people will leave, particularly the younger generation, and external pressure to impose a system based on a Western blueprint will not let up," wrote the paper.

Decay in Havana
Romantic or just plain ramshackle?Image: DW-TV

"There are not many reasons to mourn the passing of Fidel Castro's Cuba. But there is just as little ground to have unbounded enthusiasm about the foreseeable alternatives."

Paris' Le Figaro commented that it was time for the West to call for Cuba to be truly liberalized. "Now is the time to be constructive and optimistic," the newspaper wrote.

"Change has begun in Cuba and Europe is prepared to help those political leaders on the island who want a peaceful transition, who want to release political prisoners and aim to organize elections in the future, so that Cubans can finally decide their own fate," it continued.

Denmark's Jyllands Posten blamed tourism for helping Castro to survive the collapse of the Soviet Union and remain in power for so long. "Unfortunately it is still too early to hope for rapid reforms in terms of fundamental civil rights such as free speech, the right to assemble as well as real democracy," the daily added.