The US President has made his first public comments on Cuba since an ailing Fidel Castro temporarily handed over power to his younger brother. Gorge W. Bush urged Cubans to work for democratic change. It comes amid growing speculation about the condition of the veteran leader, with some rumours suggesting he may already have died. Playing down any sense of panic, one woman interviewed said she worked at the hospital and that everything was fine.
“All is business as usual, just as if the commander were perfectly well,” she said. But a man quizzed on the streets of Havana expressed bewilderment that Raul Castro had not appeared in public. “He should have addressed the people somehow, but he hasn’t and we don’t know why,” he said.
His brother’s chosen successor, Raul provisionally took over his duties as president and head of the ruling Communist party on Monday as Fidel, 79, underwent surgery for gastro-intestinal bleeding. In Miami, where Cuban exiles have long demanded an aggressive US stance on Cuba, some said Washington should be going further. One pro-democracy activist urged Washington and Europe to demand elections in Cuba within the next 90 days. Some exiles have openly celebrated Castro’s ill-health, convinced that their dreams of regime change in Cuba now finally stand a chance of coming true.