Although Fidel has not been running things for some time, his official retirement marks the beginning of a new chapter in Cuban history. Still, it's not clear how much of a change it will make. The communist regime remains firmly in place, and there are no signs of any impending political opening.Here's a statement issued by Cuban dissident Oswaldo Paya, leader of the Christian Liberation Movement:
This news is of indisputable importance historically and in the lives of all Cubans living in and outside of Cuba.
Today ends almost five decades of one mans rule and, as we have always said, Fidels replacement should be chosen by Cubas sovereign people. The National Assembly and all those in power should work immediately to reform the law so that citizens may have rights to free speech and association, to reform the electoral law, call free elections and liberate peaceful political prisoners so that in an environment of reconciliation, order and peace, the Cuban people may begin a new period in their livesall Cubans united in diversity, love and peace, not divided by confrontation.
The Cuban people cannot be denied what belongs to them, the rights that all Cubans have as human beings.
Whatever evaluation or view Cubans may have about the period that has just come to an end, we must not enter into conflict but look to the future together. But in order to look to the future together, in the middle of so many differing experiences and emotions, we must begin on the basis of respect for the dignity of every person and the recognition in law and in practice of the rights of every Cuban.
May this news of surprise to the Cuban people and the world, God willing open a new path and period for the lives of the new generation and all Cubans, and may it be one of peace, harmony, justice and rights.
It is our call and our determination to continue to work in this direction for the good of all Cubans.
May God help the Cuban people in this moment.