U.S. Rep. Albio Sires today responded to the news that Cuban President Fidel Castro has stepped down from power.
"It makes it perfectly clear that he’s very ill, and he’s not competent enough to run the country, otherwise he would not have given up the reins of 50 years," said Sires. "All the speculation of the last months that he’s coming back, I think we can put that to rest."
Sires, who was born in Cuba and immigrated to West New York as a child, said he hopes the end of the Castro era leads to democracy and free elections.
"The people of Cuba have been in a state of flux for 18 months, hopefully there will be some changes," said the Congressman. "We really don’t know what the will of the people is because they’re so restrained, so closely watched and manipulated. But my hope is there could be some sort of movement toward democracy: freedom of the press and the release of political prisoners. The next six months are going to be critical."
Sires said the United States and other countries can and should play a role similar to that of those European countries that intervened in the aftermath of Francisco Franco’s dictatorship in the 1970s and helped guarantee that Spain would be a democracy.