Cuba Politics

Fidel Castro undergoes surgery, temporarily cedes power to Raul Castro

Posted July 31, 2006 by publisher in Cuba Politics.


Cuban leader Fidel Castro has temporarily ceded his presidential power to brother Raul Castro due to illness, according to Cuban national television.

The unprecedented announcement came in a communique read over state television. It said that Fidel Castro would be undergoing surgery.

The precise nature of that surgery was not immediately known, but the announcement said that he suffered from gastrointestinal bleeding. The statement read by Carlos Valenciaga, Castro’s secretary, attributed the ailment to stress from recent public appearances in Cuba and Argentina.

Fidel Castro is 79; his brother, the defense minister, is 75 and has been taking on a more public role in recent months.

It is the first time in 47 years that Fidel Castro ceded the power that he snared as a rebel and clung to through decades of controversy and, many would say, brutal repression. Cuban law stipulates that his brother would take over as president upon his death.

‘‘There is no doubt the people and the revolution will struggle until the last drop of blood,’’ the news presenter read.

Reading between the lines, Castro’s medical situation appeared serious.

Valenciaga said Castro delegated various functions to high-level Communist Party officials. He also postponed an upcoming international conference.

In addition, celebrations scheduled for Castro’s 80th birthday on Aug. 13 will be postponed until Dec. 2, the 50th anniversary of Cuba’s Revolutionary Armed Forces, the announcement said.

Member Comments

On July 31, 2006, publisher wrote:

Just found this from the AP

By Anita Snow
The Associated Press
Originally published July 31, 2006, 10:22 PM EDT

HAVANA // Fidel Castro temporarily relinquished his presidential powers to his brother Raul tonight and told Cubans he must undergo surgery.

The Cuban leader said he had suffered gastrointestinal bleeding, apparently due to stress from recent public appearances in Argentina and Cuba, according to the letter read live on television by his secretary, Carlos Valenciaga.

“The operation obligates me to undertake several weeks of rest,” the letter read, adding that extreme stress “had provoked in me a sharp intestinal crisis with sustained bleeding that obligated me to undergo a complicated surgical procedure.”

Castro said he was temporarily relinquishing the presidency to his younger brother and successor Raul, the defense minister, but said the move was of “a provisional character.” There was no immediate appearance or statement by Raul Castro.

The elder Castro asked that celebrations scheduled for his 80th birthday on Aug. 13 be postponed until Dec. 2, the 50th anniversary of Cuba’s Revolutionary Armed Forces.

On July 31, 2006, Scott Ross wrote:

The biggest block party in U.S. history, spanning three South Florida counties and extending like a conga line throughout exile communities worldwide, has already begun.  Less than an hour after news of Fidel Castro’s surgical crisis and temporary surrender of power, tens of thousands of Miami area Cubans are already pouring onto Calle Ocho (Southwest 8th Street), the epicenter of the city’s Little Havana area—horns blowing, flags waving, exiles screaming with joy, as those long ago dispossessed of their homeland celebrate what they hope will be the imminent death of Cuba’s totalitarian dictator. 

Although intermittent prior reports of Castro’s declining health have hinted to Miami’s exile community to ready the mojitos, this is the first occasion on which the Cuban community has taken to the streets to celebrate.  This local observer believes that the impromptu celebration will continue well into the early morning hours, as Cuban Americans await encouraging news from Cuba.

At such time as Fidel Castro’s death is announced, whether soon or at some future date, Greater Miami area exiles will ignite what will arguably become the largest, wildest and longest-lasting street party in U.S. history.  For years, local and municipal governments throughout Miami-Dade, Broward and Monroe County have been preparing and rehearsing for this much anticipated street fiesta, but few believe it will be orderly and contained.  In all likelihood, the celebration will literally shut-down everything-Miami for days.

Stay tuned.

Scott Ross
Aventura, Florida

On July 31, 2006, Robert Lee Jackson Jr. wrote:

My family came from Cuba in around 1803 to Louisiana. I know that I still have marranos relative left in Cuba that HLA-B4201 and HLA-A2901. You will never understand how special a human being Fidel Castro was to the Aryan race or the Atlantean race and We are free now because of Fidel to say we are Atlantean or Aryan our race is now taken over this world. Irish, Basques, German, Gypsies, Chinese, Jews, Indian and Iranian and Hindus are all Aryans. We are expanding all across the world especially in Latin America because of Fidel Castro and every Left wing Country in Latin America own great debt to Fidel Castro our leader. Who held out for socialism until the Cavalary came. And I don’t know if you Fidel Castro will become in your heaven be he will be most definely be welcome in ours; Because Fidel Castro has done more for Thrid World then the Yankee Imperialist and or Baptista ever could. Fidel Castro stuck a fork in Imperialism and it is done now Jews want to get him the Arafat Parkinton Biologicial Warfar Syndrome. Because it was Parkinton with Arafat it not with Castro. it Mosaad Syndrome same as Arafat. But What must be done will be done Israel already know their faith and there is not they can do about. When you have broken your Convenant with you creature.

On August 01, 2006, Ralph wrote:

My goodness me,i can’t get well the last comment.having say that,it seems to
me that the news about ailing castro,has been quite a surprise,but one thing
appeared clear,the man was ok when was in Argentina,almost 3 hours speech
in Cordoba,and after the celebrations in Holguin and Bayamo,I saw him on
tv on 26 july and he looked himself haggard,tired,So as a doctor,i can understand that it could be a gastrointestinal ‘stress-reaction” with bleeding,
but also could be an ulcer or malignant situation in stomach or guts or which
very frecuent in elder people,bleeding due to benign small intestinal tumors,
in any case we will see,but i want to say my impression,I don’t want to see
the real cubans celebrating ailing situations of anybody,even Castro,that it
seems to be against everything,I remembered me to see here palestinians,
iranians,arabs in general,afghans and others who live in Europe celebrating
the murderer act of 9-11,that was a puke,very gruesome pictures,which are
etched memories in my mind,this is no the way the good things have to be.

On August 01, 2006, Ralph wrote:

I could understand the necessity of political happiness for millions of cubans
in and out Cuba,in exile in the states,or in Europe or whereever,B u T there
is no reason to celebrate,the systems is still the same,the younger brother
of Fidel Castro even having differents personalities,they share the same—
ideology and Raul is said to be sometimes more pitiless than Fidel,the uncontrolled rivalry for gaining forefront position in the near future among the
little groups of power in Cuba,just could bring more suffering to us.We have
reason to celebrate when coming free and fair election,when working in Cuba
a free press,when the cubans can adopt any ideology on their own,etc,etc,
But now,just we have an ailing dictator,a pintpoint temporal succession and
many bogus predictions, give just one reason to me celebrate,have you?

On August 01, 2006, Bernie wrote:

Do these exiles think that they will be welcomed back to Cuba, if Castro
passes away?  They must be 100% Full Moon Clowns to think that they would be welcomed.  They left Cuba totally abandoning Cuba and now they wish to return?
Exiles do not make for a well run goverment, you only have to look at Iraq and Afghanistan to see the results of what exiles do to a country.  You people in Miami who are celebrating this should take a walk in the ocean until your hat floats.

On August 01, 2006, publisher wrote:


Interesting comment. How would Cuba keep them out if/when Americans are free to travel out of US to Cuba?

I guess they would come in as tourists but how will they be intentified in Cuba as a “dreaded” exile.

On August 01, 2006, MiamiCuban wrote:

The article says there were “tens of thousands” Cubans hitting the streets in Miami.  This is highly exaggerated.  It seemed to me more like “hundreds”, maybe a couple of thousand, and when you take into account the two million or so Cubans in South Florida, the numbers are hardly impressive.  Even if there were ten thousand, which I doubt, this amounts to less than 1% of the Cuban-American population.  The camera angles do a good job of distorting the figures.  Also, many of those were young, politically inept, and clueless as to the real significance and consequences of what was happening, if in fact the situation is as serious as we’re being led to believe.  What we saw on television probably consisted of the same raucous crowd that rioted during the Elian Gonzalez crisis and who will take advantage of any opportunity to whip themselves up into a frenzy.

On August 01, 2006, Ralph wrote:

This is a comment out of my convictions,but a necessary comment;The way
Castro is bracing for the worst-which could be go to the beyond- is to me
very positive in a gruelling human context.As a medical doctor I know a major
operation in an old man is always very risky,but he could survive,even though
there is no chances that, if he survives,he can again to take the forefront position in the Cuba government,that’s why castrism is going away,b/c every
cuban knows that Fidelismo or Castrism or socialism “a la cubana” o the so
called Revolution or roboluciĆ³n,all of those has been made by Castro,his courage,yes courage,intelligence,evil doer,charismatic personality has made
possible his very long lasting misgovernment for many,dictatorship for others,
and a good process for few,Castro is just the maker of everything in Cuba in
the last 45 year,and that is the real fact.the lasting of Raul succession could
be very very short.

On August 01, 2006, publisher wrote:

Sent to us by a loyal contributor regarding the possible health scenarios for Fidel Castro:

Colon cancer is addressed by resecting (cutting out a section of the colon, living with a waste bag for a while, then eventually joining the two pieces left).  Stomach cancers are frequently fatal with a rapid down hill turn.

Leaky gut may also involve resecting a section of the small intestines and the person may have difficulty in absorbing sufficient nutrients, reduced to being vein fed.  Ulcerations can be cut out of the stomach which is then sewn back up, often with chronic digestive problems following. 

If he has a cancer in the GI track it may have metastasized by the time it bleeds as there is a great complex of lymph and blood vessels in the region, especially the small intestines. 

The long term implications are debilitations of one degree or another with weight loss, fatigue,  and diminished immune system function, many develop pneumonia, an “opportunistic” disease, and pass on despite antibiotic therapies. 

Scarring from surgeries in the abdomen often contribute to the tendency to long term digestive distress and chronic weakness due to lack of proper absorption of nutrients.

On August 01, 2006, Ralph wrote:

One more thing,on according various american energy think-tanks and sherrit
of Canada,and chinese oil companies,etc,Cuba has at least 5 big reserves of
oil and gas of good quality,which could enable Cuba no just to meet its energy
requirements but also to be an exporter of medium size and that could be
in business in 3 to 5 year on,the cuban government know well about that,and
the refurbish of refineries,ports,etc is under way and many companies are in
business,but not american ones and I that could add more complexity to the
situation.Many in Cuba and abroad want to see a democratic socialism,May
GOD take it.

On August 01, 2006, Robert Lee Jackson Jr. wrote:

Democratic Socialism is the best solution for Cuba.

On August 02, 2006, Ralph wrote:

The possiblehealth scenarios for Castro situation are in questions,b/c the
ambiguous information given to us,however reckon with the accident with
broken bones wich Castro endured more than a year ago,it is possible to
think that he had to taken a lot of pain-killer ant these could led to a bleeding- peptic ulcer or at the top of the small intestine,that causes massive bleeding
no-controllable by endoscopy,other cause could be diverticulosis,which is very frecuent in elder humans,and sometimes endoscopy approaches ain’t enough,
Colon cancer is another possible health scenario but it bleeds little,stomach
cancer is another situation,but somehow i think that was an bleeding peptic
ulcer,the stress in not the cause,but is a very factor to make the situation worse.However,as a cuban who knows how much Castro loves to be one step
ahead of everybody,that could be just an attempt to see how can the revolucioanry government acts without him,to see Lage and P Roque,with
Balaguer,Lazo,Machado forming in a directorate with Raul and test on the ground if that could go well according on Castro’desires.So,it is too early to
celebrate and forget any changes under Raul rule,maybe some shy economic
openings,but these will fall very short of a chinese model and politically more of the same.

On August 04, 2006, Ralph wrote:

It is too close to call,nobody knows out the inner circle of power in Cuba what really is going on,the most likely scenarios are:1.Fidel is not so ill and just want
to see how well runs the succession,2.Fidel is incapacitated,is in coma or he
is speechless and the doctor want a time to assess 3.Fidel is dead and the
nomenklatura is going to prepare the way to make the communique.Lokk,those are the scenarios,chose yourself and let me know about.

On August 07, 2006, Ralph wrote:

DIverticulosis that was the cause,it is very common in elder people to have
sac-like structures in the colon,which times to times can bleed on sometimes
endoscopy approach isn’t enough and colon surgery is forced to do,it is complicated and very serious especially b/c the vast mojority of the patients
are old and have ohter ailemnts associated,for instant in Castro case is the
mild Parkinson disease,but he is doing well and he will live with a colostomy
for some months to come,as a Christian and Cuban I pray for the best of my
country,for freedom and better life,i don’t pray for the death of any culprit,
i am no THE JUDGE,I will be,myself,under GOD judgement went my moment comes,so I don’t uphold prayers for Castro Death,b/c simply those prayers are
not Christian ones,GOD is the One who Punishes or Rewards.