"I am saying that I will neither aspire to nor accept, I repeat, I will neither aspire to nor accept the positions of President of the State Council and Commander in Chief," Castro, 81, said in a letter posted on the Web site of the state-run newspaper, Granma.
This action should create an opportunity for both a greater democratization of Cuba, and a less confrontational relationship between the US and Cuba. It will take a little time, and will have to involve a willingness to listen and trust on both sides, but there is at least a chance.
And in Pakistan Musharraf's party and some of the fundamentalist parties have been crushed. The two big winners, Benazir Bhutto's party has won about half the seats and the Pakistan Muslim League-N party came in second. Musharraf's party came in a distant third. This means a center left and center right party now control 60-70 percent of the seats in the national assembly.
This is a hopeful sign, but with the tradition and current instability in Pakistan there is still plenty of opportunity for disaster.