Miami Herald - opinion
Re the Nov. 16 story Castro has Parkinson’s disease CIA has concluded: I am a former senior Commerce Department official in the administrations of Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Currently I am senior research associate at the University of Miami’s Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies.
Fidel Castro’s affliction with Parkinson’s disease has been an open secret for several years. However, he suffers from other health problems that are contributing to a progressive decline in his physical and mental condition. In addition to pulmonary problems (the reason that he gave up smoking his trademark cigars), Castro has suffered from repeated episodes of cerebral ischemia or transient ischemic attack (TIA) for more than a decade.
TIA results in partial, usually temporary, paralysis, with stroke-like symptoms. Castro is on heavy doses of hypertension drugs and tranquilizers, but his risk of stroke—leading to incapacitation or death—is high.
The Cuban government is actively planning for the transition to a regime nominally headed by Raul Castro. He and other key officials are keenly aware that Fidel Castro’s departure will immediately raise the Cuban people’s expectations for better economic conditions, which could lead to a popular uprising if left unfulfilled for long.
To avoid political chaos and preserve its privileges, the successor regime is expected to quickly liberalize the Cuban economy, adopting an authoritarian market approach similar to the Chinese and Vietnamese models. Realizing the need for large-scale foreign direct investment to provide jobs and rebuild Cuba’s decrepit infrastructure, the new government will probably make an early overture to the United States for normalization of relations.
TIMOTHY ASHBY, Miami