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REACTION: FIDEL CASTRO'S RESIGNATION

"Today's resignation of Fidel Castro is nearly half a century overdue. ... Yet freedom for the Cuban people is not yet at hand, and the Castro brothers clearly intend to maintain their grip on power. That is why we must press the Cuban regime to release all political prisoners unconditionally, to legalize all political parties, labor unions and free media, and to schedule internationally monitored elections."

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., presidential candidate

"Until Fidel Castro is dead, there can be no significant movement towards reform in Cuba. ... Raul Castro has proven that he's as much a tyrant and dictator as his brother, Fidel. Simply providing more power to another dictator does nothing to promote freedom and democracy to the Cuban people."

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, presidential candidate

"The prompt release of all political prisoners ... would mark an important break with the past. If the Cuban leadership begins opening Cuba to meaningful democratic change, the United States must be prepared to begin taking steps to normalize relations and to ease the embargo of the last five decades."

Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., presidential candidate

"The new leadership in Cuba will face a stark choice: Continue with the failed policies of the past that have stifled democratic freedoms and stunted economic growth or take a historic step to bring Cuba into the community of democratic nations. ... The United States must pursue an active policy that does everything possible to advance the cause of freedom, democracy and opportunity in Cuba."

Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., presidential candidate

"Enough of him, enough of Raul ... and the rest of this sorry lot. The Cuban people want freedom. ... Replacing one dictator for another doesn't amount to a hill of beans. But then there aren't any beans in Cuba, either."

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami

"In totalitarian Cuba, Fidel Castro's absolute power is not based on titles. The dictator's written declarations have the effect of totalitarian decrees, whether signed with the title 'commander in chief' or 'comrade' or simply with his name. What we all need to be concentrating on is the urgent need for a democratic transition in Cuba."

Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, R-Miami

"Regrettably, this dictatorship continues through the succession of power to Raul Castro, and as Floridians, we must continue to call for free and democratic elections in Cuba, freedom for all political prisoners and respect for all human rights."

Gov. Charlie Crist

"This isn't news. It was expected and it does nothing to change the human rights situation. ... He's going to continue to control the levers of power."

Elizardo Sanchez, Cuban human rights leader

"It's a brave decision and, in taking it, I'm sure Fidel Castro was guided by the interests of his country and his people."

Gennady Zyuganov, leader of the Russian Communist Party

"It is like losing a father. ... Like a marriage - a very long one that is over."

Luis Conte, an elderly museum guard in Cuba

Sources: Times wires, (London) TimesOnline, International Herald Tribune, National Public Radio

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