French PM skeptical that Castro departure will bring democracy
"The real question to ask regarding Cuba is: 'When will the Cubans have the right to democracy?'
STRASBOURG, France, February 20, 2008 - France sounded a skeptical note on
Fidel Castro's announced departure Tuesday, saying it would wait and see
whether the move would deliver democracy to the Cuban people.
"The real question to ask regarding Cuba is: 'When will the Cubans have the
right to democracy?' That's the only question that should guide us," Prime
Minister Francois Fillon told reporters at the European Parliament in
"If the signs indicate an evolution of the Cuban regime toward democracy,
we will encourage them and we will support them. For the moment, I haven't
seen any," Fillon added.
Reactions worldwide to 81-year-old Castro's decision to step down as
president after almost half a century in power have run the gamut, with some
hoping it will trigger democratic change and others airing deep doubts.
The French prime minister also offered scant praise for Castro, who
weathered assassination plots along with a US-backed invasion bid and trade
embargo during his marathon tenure as Cuba's leader.
"I have never had admiration for dictators regardless of who they are and
it's not because some were dictators longer than others that they merit more
admiration on our part," Fillon said.
Earlier in the day, France's secretary of state for European affairs
Jean-Pierre Jouyet expressed hope Cuba would embark "on the road toward
democracy and respect for human rights."