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Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 February 2008, 14:22 GMT
Reaction as Fidel Castro retires
The response to the news that long-time Cuban President Fidel Castro is to step down has been as diverse as the reactions he provoked all his life.

While some praised him for a courageous decision, others damned his record and said they hoped there would now be real change in Cuba.

US PRESIDENT GEORGE W BUSH

The question really should be what does this mean for the people of Cuba - they are the ones who suffered under Fidel Castro... they are the ones put in prison because of their beliefs.

I believe that the change from Fidel Castro ought to begin a period of a democratic transition.

We are going to help. The US will help the people of Cuba realise the blessings of liberty.

VENEZUELAN PRESIDENT HUGO CHAVEZ

The Cuban revolution does not depend on one person, on a juncture, nor on circumstance. Fidel is not giving up or abandoning anything - he is occupying the post that he has to fill in the Cuban revolution and the Latin American revolution.

Fidel always was in the vanguard. Men like Fidel never retire.

UK PRIME MINISTER GORDON BROWN

We can only hope that a new path will open up after this withdrawal and that there will be more democracy in that country.

SWEDISH FOREIGN MINISTER CARL BILDT

The withdrawal of Fidel Castro marks the end of an era that began with high hopes but ended with oppression.

FRENCH MINISTER FOR EUROPE JEAN-PIERRE JOUYET

Castroism has been a symbol of totalitarianism. One cannot but hope that after this retirement a new path will open and that there will be democracy.

SPANISH LATIN AMERICA MINISTER TRINIDAD JIMENEZ

Now [acting President] Raul Castro can assume with greater ability, strength and confidence, the project of reforms that he has himself spoken of, and I believe that he should start to put these reforms into action.

RUSSIAN COMMUNIST PARTY CHIEF GENNADY ZYUGANOV

It is a courageous decision, and in taking it, Fidel Castro, I am sure, was guided by the interests of his country and his people.

NINOSKA PEREZ, CUBAN LIBERTY COUNCIL, MIAMI

It's incredible that 50 years of dictatorship can be accepted by Cubans and will continue to be accepted. The real celebration will be when he [Castro] can no longer write about it.

Spokesman for EU AID COMMISSIONER LOUIS MICHEL

We reiterate our willingness to engage with Cuba in a constructive dialogue.

BRAZILIAN PRESIDENT LUIZ INACIO LULA DA SILVA

He is the only living myth in the history of humanity and I believe he built that image with great competence, character and will power. He also built it with much controversy. So, if he took this initiative [stepping down], it must be good for Cuba.

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