No show in Havana
I know, I know. We have speculated about this many, many times over the past four decades or so - and always ended up with egg on our collective faces. It'd foolish to do so again.
Castro failed to show up at his own, postponed, hyped-up 80th birthday party on Saturday, as sure a sign as any that the dictator is seriously ill, a long way from even a partial recovery and highly unlikely to return to power.
The guests had arrived, including the usual suspects such as Evo Morales, Daniel Ortega and Garcia Marquez (has that man no shame?). The cake had been baked and the candles lit. There was even a parade and fireworks.
But the birthday boy was nowhere to be seen.
Unusual under any circumstances at any time but in the case of a man who so loves the limelight such as Castro, his non-apperance ... his failure to surprise the world yet again ... is truly extraordinary.
And what about the message it sends to ordinary Cubans?
As for the stand-in, Raul Castro gave a mercifully brief speech in which he failed to mention his older brother's health even once. In fact, he only mentioned Fidel two or three times.
Again, what message does that send to Cubans?