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An 'endorsement' no candidate wants: Fidel favors Barack

May 26, 2008 |  4:25 pm

Just what the presidential candidates have been waiting for: Cuba's Fidel Castro is weighing in on the campaign.

The 81-year-old leader of the Cuban revolution may have given up his position as the country's president, but he writes regularly for the Communist Party newspaper, Granma -- and in a column in Monday's edition ...

he calls Barack Obama "the most advanced candidate" in the race. (That's the English translation as provided by Associated Press and Reuters; the Granma English-language site translates his characterization as "this strong candidate." The article in the original Spanish is here.)

"I feel no resentment towards him, for he is not responsible for the crimes perpetrated against Cuba and humanity," Castro wrote. "Were I to defend him, I would do his adversaries an enormous favor."

However, he continued (as translated by Granma), Obama's remarks last week to the Cuban American National Foundation in Miami -- in which the Democratic front-runner said he would maintain a form of the trade embargo that has been in place for about 50 years but ease some restrictions on visits and money transfers to relatives -- "may be formulated as follows: hunger for the nation, remittances as charitable hand-outs and visits to Cuba as propaganda for consumerism and the unsustainable way of life behind it." In other words, not so good.

Last Friday Castro had sharp words (Spanish here) for the Republicans' presumptive nominee, John McCain, and the current occupant of the Oval Office, President Bush. McCain gave a hard-line speech in favor of continued isolation last week, and Bush announced a change in policy that would allow U.S. residents to send cellphones to relatives in Cuba.

So far (and perhaps to her relief), the typically loquacious Castro has offered nothing on Hillary Clinton. Although last summer he did opine that a Clinton-Obama ticket would be "invincible."

--Leslie Hoffecker

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