[JURIST] The Cuban National Assembly on Sunday, by a unanimous show of hands, officially voted Raul Castro [BBC profile], 76, to the position of president, and also chose Jose Ramon Machado Ventura [GlobalSecurity profile], 76, as the first vice president. Ventura is known as a hard-line supporter of former President Fidel Castro, who resigned [JURIST report] last Tuesday, and was a member of the original Cuban Revolution against the Batista government.
United States Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte announced last Tuesday that the United States has no immediate plans to lift the economic sanctions [Guardian report] that have governed its policy toward Cuba for nearly fifty years. In a statement [text] Sunday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice noted that the US believes that Cubans have an "inalienable right ... to choose their leaders in democratic elections" and said that:
We support their aspirations for a better life, and their desire to enjoy the fundamental rights and liberties expressed in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Inter-American Democratic Charter. ...AP has more. The New York Times has additional coverage.
We urge the Cuban government to begin a process of peaceful, democratic change by releasing all political prisoners, respecting human rights, and creating a clear pathway towards free and fair elections.