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Reaction Mixed to Castro’s Turnover of Power

Cuban President Fidel Castro took ill and temporarily relinquished power to his brother Monday. A Time magazine correspondent talks about what the power shift may mean for the communist country.

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  • GWEN IFILL:

    Cuba's Fidel Castro relinquishes power, at least for now. Jeffrey Brown has the story.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    In a letter read on state television last night by his spokesman, Fidel Castro described his illness as an acute intestinal crisis with sustained bleeding. The 79-year-old Cuban leader said he would need several weeks of rest and temporarily cede power to his younger brother, Defense Minister Raul Castro.

    He blamed the illness on stress from recent public appearances, including a visit to Argentina last week.

    Castro seized control of the island nation 90 miles south of Florida in 1959. Despite American embargoes and efforts to overthrow or kill him, he's outlasted nine American presidents.

    Some residents of Havana expressed sorrow today.

  • CUBAN RESIDENT (through translator):

    They must do all they can to cure him. He'll get better. God is with him.

  • CUBAN RESIDENT (through translator):

    All of the good things that he has done he will continue to do, because we hope he will recover.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    But residents of Miami's Little Havana were overjoyed.

  • LITTLE HAVANA RESIDENT:

    It may mark the beginning of a change in Cuba, which is what we all want.

  • LITTLE HAVANA RESIDENT:

    The Cubans that just got here and the Cubans that are still over there need to unite and come together. This is our time, and this is the time for democracy. It's what we've been waiting for.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    In Washington, State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack said the U.S. wants a democratic Cuba.

  • SEAN MCCORMACK, State Department Spokesman:

    We have made clear our policy with respect to Cuba stands. You know, we fully support a democratic, free, prosperous Cuba in which the Cuban people have the opportunity to, through the ballot box, choose who will lead them, not have their leaders imposed upon them.

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