MEXICO CITY: Fidel Castro stepped down Tuesday morning as the president of Cuba after a long illness, ending one of the longest tenures as one of the most all-powerful communist heads of state in the world, according to Granma, the official publication of the Cuban Communist Party.
In late July 2006, Castro, who is 81, handed over power temporarily to his brother, Raúl Castro, 76, and a few younger cabinet ministers, after an acute infection in his colon forced him to undergo emergency surgery. Despite numerous surgeries, he has never fully recovered but has remained active in running government affairs from behind the scenes.
Now, just days before the national assembly is to meet to select a new head of state, Castro resigned permanently in a letter to the nation and signaled his willingness to let a younger generation assume power. He said his failing health made it impossible to return as president.
"I will not aspire to neither will I accept — I repeat I will not aspire to neither will I accept — the position of President of the Council of State and Commander in chief," he wrote.
He added: "It would betray my conscience to occupy a responsibility that requires mobility and the total commitment that I am not in the physical condition to offer."
I have been waiting most of my concious life for this day, when Fidel, "el caballo", "the horse", an apparent reference to his virility among Cubans, was finally out of power and out of office! I am glad and a bit hopeful yet have to admit that the manner in which it happens is quite anticlimactic! He steps down of his own choosing leaving a confusing legacy, having had a hand for evil and good in the lives of so many. Like it or not Fidel has written words, a page, a paragraph,a chapter, in the lives of many including myself.
I have to confront many feeling today and acknowledge that it is hard to understand life in our world. How can it be that; an idealistic young Christian is struck down in youth by illness or a drunk driver, a mother can succumb to a stroke following childbirth, a soldier die in Irak in the performance of his duties yet, a dictator , after 49 years of rule marked by opression and fear, choooses to retire and will likely die of old age and natural causes safely in his bed? It begs the question of fairness and justice in our world, of evil tolerated and allowed to flourish while good is not spared! It is with reason St. David warns us not to look to the apparent prosperity or longevity of those we consider evil lest we despair about fairness, justice and God.
I can not be the judge of Fidel who confidently stated that history would, in the end absolve him! Much less can I put God to the scrutiny for failing to meet out the justice I see fit! So in the contradictions and incomphrehensibles of life I must trust that all will in the end work together for good, and God's purposes will be acomplished! I must believe that, if the good book be true, there is a day when Christ will judge righteously the hearts and secrets of all men and only then will we know final absolution, true justice and reward.