We're just continuing to work for democracy on the island, and we believe that day will come soon.” Ominous words yesterday from the White House spokeswoman Dana Perino, answering a question about President Bush's response to the news that Fidel Castro had suggested his time as Cuban President might soon be over and that he did not want to stand in the way of “younger leaders”. There is a presidential election in Cuba next year and Castro may have been giving an early warning that he will not stand. There is also a presidential election in the United States of America next year and it is to be hoped that the two will not become entwined. For the Republican Party the presence of a large and well-endowed Cuban exile community in Florida is a temptation that should be resisted. In October President Bush spoke of Cuba as a “disgraced and dying order”. Remember the Bay of Pigs. The 81-year-old Fidel Castro has not been seen in public for 16 months. It has been reported that his hint about stepping down came at the end of a long and rambling letter about international affairs. Since he handed power temporarily to his brother Raul in July 2006, Cuba's economy has brightened and internal tensions have lessened. When Fidel spoke of giving younger men a chance was he referring to the 76-year-old Raul?


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