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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Fidel Castro : les spéculations vont bon train

by Bernard Duraud

Speculations about Fidel Castro’s Condition

Translated Wednesday 9 August 2006, by Carol Gullidge, Hervé Fuyet

Cuba: According to recent official information, the condition of the Cuban leader’s health is stable. However many people are building their “after” Castro scenarios.

Fidel Castro is indeed not dead, but when one listens to or reads what some of our journalists colleagues have to say, one wonders about them. It is true that, on the eve of his eighties, the Cuban leader is feeding the doubts and the ambiguities by taking sick leave from his government duties, which have been delegated since last Monday to his brother Raul.

Castro’s illness is “stable”, according to recent official informations, but there is a certain aura of secrecy around it, considered as “a “State secret”. This official version has been presented so that Cuba’s powerful neighbour, the US, is not given the opportunity to attack Havana if the regime is rocked to its foundation. The end of Fidel Castro would most certainly be a shock for Cuba...and well beyond.

The question of the post-Castro has of course been raised, and for some times already, but who, better than the Cuban people, can answer such a question and work on the “transition”? Cuba is not a tropical paradise, but it has paid dearly for its independence and Fidel is one of the best symbols of it. The 1959 Revolution transformed a country under the yoke of Batista’s dictatorship and the control of the Miami mafia into a proud, educated, fed, and healthy country, more so than any other country on the South American continent.

Cuba is a poor country, with social inequalities linked to the development of the dollar economy and tourism. It rejected the liberal market economy and was forced to be aware of the value of limited consumption, most notably as a result of the 40 year-old US embargo impinging on daily life. Cuba lives under the one party system. So let it be. It went painfully through the Soviet era and the “special” period in the nineties when, abandoned, it still resisted. It has paid a heavy price for it in terms of democracy and freedoms. Are the United States better when they launch wars all over the world under the pretense of exporting democracy? What could “democracy” mean in a “post Castro” Cuba with the USA financed dissidents leading the country?

Castro is naturally not very far from the end of his life and the future will inevitably bring changes. One can already witness many condescending learned pieces of advice! The Washington Post for instance is asking Geoge Bush to forget his “ideological obsessions” in order to give “a real chance to Cuba to build a better future”. Many Europeans see Fidel as an old dinosaur whose time has come to an end.

As often cynicism is omnipresent. The European Commission wished a “prompt recovery to Castro and ...to democracy”? Yet, more than ever before, one just has to travel through South America to see it, Cuba is in tune with the reality of the southern part of the continent. And Castro’s popularity has never been so strong....

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