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Cablegate: Media Reaction: Western Hemisphere: Fidel Castro's

VZCZCXYZ0003
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSO #0076 0511315
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 201315Z FEB 08
FM AMCONSUL SAO PAULO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7918
INFO RHEHNSC/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PRIORITY 9068
RUEHRI/AMCONSUL RIO DE JANEIRO PRIORITY 8589
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC 3030

UNCLAS SAO PAULO 000076

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE INR/R/MR; IIP/R/MR; WHA/PD

DEPT PASS USTR

USDOC 4322/MAC/OLAC/JAFEE
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KMDR OPRC OIIP ETRD BR
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION: WESTERN HEMISPHERE: FIDEL CASTRO'S
RESIGNATION; SAO PAULO

1. "Fidel's Resignation"

Liberal, largest national circulation daily Folha de S. Paulo (2/20)
editorialized: "The impact of Fidel Castro's resignation is above
all a symbolic one. In practical terms, it only makes official the
situation that has existed since July 2006, when the dictator began
his medical treatment.... Fidel's brother, Ral Castro, and a group
of younger and supposedly more pragmatic leaders will have the
responsibility of continuing a slow and gradual transition not to
democracy, but towards a more open economy tailored according to the
Chinese model. In the political area, if Fidel Castro's successors
have the opportunity, they will keep intact the authoritarian nature
of the regime and the sole party system. Obviously, such strategies
are easier to conceive than to execute.... The financial support
being provided by Hugo Chvez is an element that helps the
continuation plan of the Cuban dictatorship. It is up to the
international community to influence the economic opening attempted
by Havana to become a political opening too. Washington's role in
this change will be the determining factor.... The ideal would be
that the USG alleviate the economic sanctions imposed on Havana."

2. "Fidel's Testament"

Center right national circulation daily O Estado de S. Paulo's lead
editorial maintained (2/20): "One should not expect major openings
in the Castroist regime in the near future.... Even outside the
formal structure of power - both in the state and in the party -
Fidel will continue to exert strong influence on Cuba's destiny,
maybe until his death. Since he replaced his brother, Ral Castro
has publicly shown a wish to conduct economic reforms and initiate a
diplomatic dialogue with the major Western nations, including the
US.... He said he wanted to normalize relations with the European
Union and suggested the opening of a direct dialogue with President
George Bush. Although he had conditioned all these advances to the
maintenance of the Castroist regime - i.e., restrictions fundamental
liberties - the reforms did not happen.... The obstacle, as everyone
knows, was and will continue to be Fidel."
White

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