Cuba Politics

Castro writes letter Monday night - Probably a no show at May Day

Posted May 01, 2007 by publisher in Cuba Politics.

CBS news

Communist Cuba geared up Monday for its traditional May Day march featuring hundreds of thousands of workers, but an appearance by recovering leader Fidel Castro at the event was uncertain.

Castro, 80, has attended the annual May Day march for decades, but there was no official word whether the leader would be well enough to make it this year.

Doubt was cast over a potential appearance Monday night, as a written statement attributed to Castro was delivered to the press &#xuF;FFD the fourth such black and white commentary from the historically animated orator in the space of a month.

CBS News producer Portia Siegelbaum reports from Havana that the 10-page statement, entitled “Reflections of the Commander in Chief”, is a call for “an energy revolution”. Castro often focuses his attention publicly on protecting the world&#xuF;FFDs poor from plunder by developed countries.

For many Cubans the document, dated 6:34 p.m. April 30, dashes hopes that Castro might make his first public appearance at Tuesday’s festivities. He has been unseen in public for nine months, convalescing from surgery for intestinal bleeding caused by a still-unknown illness.

The Communist Party newspaper Granma declared that marchers at the Tuesday event in Havana’s Plaza of the Revolution will be “united and strong with the revolution and the party, with Fidel and Raul” Castro.

Smaller marches will be held simultaneously in other cities around the island, with the government expecting several million of the nation’s 11 million people to participate.

The document attributed to Castro only mentions the May Day march in the last paragraph, in which the statement also strikes out at the release of Castro’s long-time nemesis, Cuban exile Luis Posada Carriles.

“Tomorrow, May 1st, is a good day to take these ideas to the workers and all the world’s poor, together with the protest against something so incredible and humiliating that has occurred: the release of a monster of terrorism, just coinciding with the 46th anniversary of the Revolutionary Victory at the Bay of Pigs.”

Echoing Castro’s indignation, marchers will protest the recent decision to free Posada, a former CIA agent and anti-communist militant, pending his trial on U.S. immigration charges.

Cubans are enraged by the re-emergence of Posada, one of Castro’s oldest enemies, reports CBS News chief foreign correspondent Lara Logan. Posada is a figure on par with Osama Bin Laden to many Cubans, accused of blowing up a Cuban jetliner in 1976 with 73 people on board, and a string of hotel bombings.

Fidel Castro has not appeared in public in the nine months since announcing he underwent emergency intestinal surgery and temporarily ceded his functions to his 75-year-old brother Raul, the defense minister. He has appeared only occasionally in government photographs and videos, appearing stronger and more robust in more recent images.

He met separately in recent weeks with Colombian writer and Nobel laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez and a top Chinese Communist Party leader and has penned three editorials.

Cuban officials have given increasingly upbeat reports about Castro’s health, but have declined to speculate about whether he will appear Tuesday.

Siegelbaum reports there has been no official indication on whether Castro will attend Tuesday’s festivities, but top government leaders, like parliament president Ricardo Alarcon, have hinted that its more important for the 81-year-old leader to recover fully than to make a public appearance.

Watch a short CBS News report on Posada

Member Comments

On May 01, 2007, publisher wrote:

If President Castro cannot make an appearance for this May Day event especially with the Posada issue out there he is all done, politically and perhaps even physically.

The next question is how much of an appearance with Raul Castro make and what will he say?

VERY big day for Cuba watchers.

On May 01, 2007, publisher wrote:

Fidel Castro does not attend May Day. VERY significant.

He has never missed one unless he was out of the country.

July 31 was the beginning of the end of Fidel Castro’s regime.

Today is the middle of the end of Fidel Castro’s regime.

On May 01, 2007, Pete Chavez wrote:

I really thought he was going to be there.  His recent appeareances with the Chinese and Chavez and his last couple of speeches gave me the notion that it was all a build up culminating in a “victorious appearance” on May Day. 
This is a very impressive event.  Doe anyone know if Alarcon, Lage or Raul been quoted yet as to his abscence?

On May 01, 2007, publisher wrote:

I posted here that I didn’t think he would show. Now will he be on television tonight?

Meeting with a Chinese leader in a sweat suit does not say to me that he is too well.

It’s over for Fidel politically and it may be over physically soon.

I have not read any comments from them.

They all know it’s time to just think of Fidel as the figurehead and don’t talk about him. Chavez will do the propaganda for Fidel from now on.

On May 01, 2007, Pete Chavez wrote:

How do you think Cuba can move forward from this point on?  What do think is the prescription for change (from with-in, barring outside influences)?

On May 01, 2007, publisher wrote:

Fidel has to die or be out of the picture for several more months. After today the Cuban people are not going to wait around for Fidel any longer. I would guess that TODAY WAS THE DAY in their minds and if Fidel can’t show up for this event nine months after his surgery, he’s not coming back.

So, maybe this Fall Raul would loosen up the grip on the economy and open things up a bit?

The prescription for change?

1. Raul opens up the economy and releases political prisoners and that keeps the Cuban people happy.

2. Raul dies before or shortly after Fidel. I have been told he has sorosis of the liver. Lage or Alarcon takes over.

3. Who knows? I don’t see the dissidents “rising up”. Hard to say with Fidel still around. I don’t think Raul can do much with Fidel around.

4. US influence is a wild card. Will some Cuban exiles start driving boats to Cuba to pick up potential rafters and what will that do? Will Bush pressure Raul and will Raul fight back or give in?

Still too early to tell but I think right now I see the Fall as the next focus point with maybe Fidel’s birthday of August 13 as the next key date. May 20 might be a date to watch but I don’t think Fidel will EVER be seen in public again.

The guy is 80 and may have more problems physically and/or mentally than we know.

Let’s see if he’s on Cuban television tonight.