Cuba Culture

Health of Fidel Castro to be determined in next several days

Posted November 28, 2006 by publisher in Cuba Culture.

By ANITA SNOW, Associated Press Writer

Whether Castro shows up for some of the five days of festivities starting Tuesday will provide clues about the leader’s health and ability to resume the power he held for 47 years — or at least feed further speculation about it.

Rows of troops in olive green fatigues marched Monday morning across Havana’s Plaza of the Revolution to prepare for a big military parade on Saturday honoring Castro and marking the 50th anniversary of the island’s Revolutionary Armed Forces.

Just outside the plaza, more than a dozen missile launchers were lined up while military helicopters buzzed and MiG jet fighters zoomed overhead.

If Castro does appear, Cuban authorities will likely celebrate it as a major victory over the leader’s enemies. A no-show would set off a new round of speculation about his health, his chances for survival and the nation’s future.

Castro has been seen by the public only in photos and videos since his July 31 announcement that he was temporarily ceding power to his brother, 75-year-old Defense Minister Raul Castro, while he recovered from surgery for intestinal bleeding.

Details of his ailment have been treated as a state secret and his absence from the public scene has fueled persistent rumors about his health — especially among his enemies in the Cuban exile community in South Florida.

Despite periodic statements by Cuban officials insisting he is recovering nicely, U.S. officials say they are convinced Castro suffers from some kind of inoperable cancer and won’t live through 2007.

Although the latest images released in late October showed Castro had regained much of the 41 pounds reportedly lost since he fell ill, he nevertheless appeared pale and fragile.

Senior Cuban officials have declined to speculate on whether Castro will show up at any of the events, while still expressing optimism about his recovery.

“If he considers it appropriate, depending on his rehabilitation program, perhaps he’ll decide to go,” National Assembly President Ricardo Alarcon said earlier this month.

Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Bolivian President Evo Morales, Mexican actress Maria Rojo, former Ecuadorean President Rodrigo Borja and Argentine ex-soccer star Diego Maradona are among more than 1,300 people organizers say will attend.

Brazilian poet Thiago de Mello, Ecuadorean writer Jorge Enrique Adoum and Nicaraguan politician Tomas Borge arrived over the weekend.

Castro’s good friend and political ally Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez won’t be able to come; he is up for re-election on Dec. 3. But Chavez has promised to dedicate his electoral victory to Castro.

Member Comments

On November 28, 2006, publisher wrote:

It’s time to do or die for Fidel Castro…literally.

If he does not make an appearance (do) then it just might be time to die, at least politically.

If he makes an appearance at this celebration, will he speak? Will he speak for four hours? I don’t think so. If he cannot stand or speak well, I don’t think he would show up. For him to “drive by” and say hello would be out of the question for his ego since it would be a sign of weakness.

What if he doesn’t make it at all? Well, that would be the END of Fidel Castro. I don’t see anyway that he would be able to come back to office in any capacity.

I’m sure most Cubans are anxiously awaiting to see what happens this week.

Personally, I say he doesn’t show but he’ll have some good reason. Of course no reason will justify his absence.

On November 28, 2006, publisher wrote:

See this Reuters story about the importance of his appearance this week.