Friday, July 21, 2006

Not dead, folks

Fidel Castro is alive. Not sure if he is well. But he most certainly is alive. The newswire photograph above shows Castro arriving today in Cordoba, the second largest city in Argentina, to attend a South American trade summit.

Castro's appearance follows days of speculation in and outside Cuba that the soon-to-be 80 year old dictator may have died. Obviously, these rumours were somewhat exaggerated.

This is not the first time rumours of Castro's impending death have surfaced. In fact, they have been a constant of Cuban political life for the past 47 years. This time, the rumours started when Castro disappeared for days from the Cuban media - which is tightly controlled by the regime. Instead, the official papers started publishing cringe-making, laudatory articles about his brother, Raul, the anointed heir, complete with photographs of the slightly-younger Castro (he is 75), with his family, in military uniform, relaxing with friends, etc. And then, as if by magic, Castro the Elder reappears, this time in Argentina, looking as healthy and as alert as you can expect from someone of his age. And loving all the attention, I am sure.

Which makes me wonder whether those "he is really dead this time" rumours are actually started by the Cuban regime? The highly-respected exiled journalist and author Carlos Alberto Montaner thinks so and you know, I think he may just be right. True, it'd be a perverse and seemingly pointless exercise but hey, this is Cuba after all.


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