But the facts speak for themselves: six weeks or so after undergoing surgery that was described by those around him as delicate but not life-threatening, Fidel Castro remains too ill to appear in public.
Sure, there have been plenty of stage-managed visits by selected “friends”, faithfully recorded on video and still photographs by the regime’s extensive and relentless propaganda machine.
But come crunch time, it was a no show by the 80-year-old dictator.
Despite earlier suggestions of a surprise appearance, Castro failed to turn up at the official opening of the Summit of the Non Aligned Movement in Havana today – the largest gathering of world leaders ever to take place in communist Cuba.
For a man who has spent much of his life basking in the limelight and manipulating the media not to make even a brief personal appearance at the biggest show in town can only mean one thing: whatever ails Castro is serious. Real serious.
Time will tell.