August 02, 2006



From CNN: Castro's illness sparks speculation, rumors.

Celebration in the streets of Little Havana gave way Tuesday to speculation about the state of Fidel Castro's health and what would happen in Cuba if he were to die, while county officials activated a rumor control hot line.

Castro remained out of sight Tuesday after undergoing intestinal surgery and temporarily turning over power to his brother Raul. Some in Florida speculated that the leader who has defied the United States for nearly half a century already could be dead.

"When a man has been in power for so long, they don't tell people at first. I am afraid that when people begin to realize that he is dead, the real fight for power will begin," said Eric Hernandez, 33, a writer for Telemundo who said he had canceled plans to return to Cuba on Friday to visit his father for the first time in five years.

South Florida's Cuban-American community of about 800,000 is the largest segment of the state's fast-growing Hispanic community and its influence is felt across Florida. Cheering crowds waving Cuban flags celebrated the news of Castro's illness late Monday and into early Tuesday.

One group had dressed as migrants wearing life jackets, pretending to paddle a cardboard boat down Little Havana's Calle Ocho in Miami -- recalling the desperate journey many exiles have taken across the Florida Straits.

"This is a celebration of people of hope returning to their home country, something that is 40-something years in the making," said Joe Martinez, chairman of Miami-Dade County commissioners, who was born in Cuba.

UPDATE: From CNN: Cuban TV: Castro says health 'stable'.

Fidel Castro's health situation is "stable" and he is in "good spirits," according to a message attributed to him and read on Cuban television Tuesday evening.

The message provided little detail about the medical condition that prompted Castro to temporarily cede power to his brother, Raul, on Monday.

Blaming intestinal surgery, Cuban television reported the handover Monday night, the first time Castro has ceded control of the island nation in 47 years.

From CBS News: Chavez, The Future Of Communism?. (hat tip Chris Byers)

Cuba is the isolated Communist island that has never squeezed itself out from under the thumb of the West, focusing most of its energy on weathering the U.S. trade embargo. Though Castro survived U.S. attempts on his life, like the CIA’s famous exploding seashell, his famous tumble down the stairs in old age was a metaphor for his regime. Cuba became the floating prison from which thousands of influential American immigrant businesspeople, politicians, etc., hailed, and never has ceased to be the island from which citizens risk life and limb to escape. Whereas Castro envisioned that his Communist utopia would set the gold standard for the world, he has been handily upstaged by dissidents and exiles who have, over the decades, become poster children for the fundamental thirst for liberty.

Posted by Forkum at August 2, 2006 05:53 PM