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Castro's Resignation: U.S. Political, Government Voices

U.S. government reaction's to Cuban President Fidel Castro's resignation Monday:

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"The international community should work with the Cuban people to begin to build institutions that are necessary for democracy. And eventually, this transition ought to lead to free and fair elections — and I mean free and I mean fair, not these kind of staged elections that the Castro brothers try to foist off as being true democracy." — President Bush.

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"We would hope that the departure from the scene of Cuba's long-ruling dictator Fidel Castro would allow for a democratic transition. ... We would be willing to provide assistance to Cuba in a period of real democratic transition." — Tom Casey, deputy spokesman at the State Department.

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"Today's news from Cuba should not focus on one man who is merely formalizing the transfer of power he initiated a year and a half ago. It should focus on the more than 11 million Cubans who still seek the freedom they deserve." — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

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"Let us hope that the long ruthless dictatorship of Fidel Castro is truly over, and that freedom and democracy may come to Cuba." Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

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The resignation of Fidel Castro is a reason to hope that freedom is closer than it was when he was the public face of an oppressive regime, but is not a guarantee of a democratic future for the people of Cuba." — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

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"This is not the cause for celebration that some would believe. This does not represent the replacement of totalitarianism with democracy. Instead, it is the replacement of one dictator with another. ... What this move does perhaps present is a moment of hope." — Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J.

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"Fidel's comings and goings are irrelevant. ... The Cuban people want freedom. Replacing one dictator for another doesn't amount to a hill of beans." — Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla.

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"The United States' embargo on Cuba is one of the most backward and ineffective foreign policies in history. Today, America has an opportunity to finally turn a new page." — Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn.

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"After a half-century of oppression under Castro's brutal dictatorship, this announcement could be a turning point for the Cuban people, but only if it serves as a catalyst for real democratic reform." — House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio.

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"Let's hope that his resignation opens a new chapter. Whether that new chapter will be open, however, largely depends on a new approach to Cuba by the U.S. government." — Rep. Jeff Flake., R-Ariz.

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"Cuba's future should be determined by the Cuban people and not by an antidemocratic successor regime. The prompt release of all prisoners of conscience wrongly jailed for standing up for the basic freedoms too long denied to the Cuban people would mark an important break with the past." — Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill.

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"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. Cuba's transition to democracy is inevitable; it is a matter of when not if." — Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

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"I think this provides a great opportunity for the people of Cuba. I'm hoping the new leadership will take steps to move Cuba to democracy, release political prisoners and lift a lot of the oppressive burdens that have prevented the Cuban people from really having the kind of future they deserve to have." — Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y.

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"His departure from power in Havana is long overdue, but the repressive regime he built must still be consigned to the dustbin of history." — Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn.

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"The United States must now work with those who aspire for genuine democracy in Cuba to ensure that Castro does not merely give way to another dictator." Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa.

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"Whether Raul Castro, or another, is named successor, we should not consider lifting the embargo until Cuba frees political prisoners, respects human rights and allows independent civil organizations. However, we should not sit back and wait for the successor to act." — Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del.