HAVANA TIMES — Fidel Castro has again resurrected in the wake of rumors — for the hundredth time — announcing his death in recent weeks. This has happened once a year for decades, with someone in Florida always saying they know someone on the island who told them that he was dead.
His comeback was more than public this time. He met for five hours with Venezuelan Vice President Elias Jaua, and then accompanied the visitor from his home to the National Hotel, where Fidel then spoke with some of the workers there for about 30 minutes.
Rumors of the death of Fidel Castro were published in the exile media in Miami, while other publications around the world echoed the news, thinking the exiles must have had reliable information about the man they’ve hated so much for so many years.
This time, in a few days the news traveled the world. It was even said that Raul Castro sent for his sister Juanita, a Miami resident, for an important family gathering in Havana. But this was in vain, because despite Juanita denying the matter, the rumor continued on.
The house in Laguito
Shortly before Jose Marquina, a Venezuelan doctor who also lives in Florida, said he knew firsthand from a good source that the Comandante had suffered “a cerebral embolism and now he doesn’t know anybody.”
The information he was spreading lacked such seriousness that it placed this dying Fidel Castro in his “house in El Laguito,” when he actually resides in another part of town. Fidel has never lived in El Laguito, since the houses there are normally used as protocol residences.
To top it all off, a supposed Italian journalist, Tommaso Debenedetti, set himself the task of spreading the news of Fidel’s death on social networks, sparking off a craze that even the professional media found difficult to avoid.
From a fake Twitter account, Debenedetti made it appear that the Cuban foreign minister issued a message about a special public appearance by Raul Castro to announce that “Fidel Castro died today,” while adding that “an official communiqué from the Central Committee will be released in the coming hours.”
We foreign correspondents in Havana were bombarded by our editors who, almost daily, asking for news about his death. Colleagues found it hard to believe that everything was only a new invention by the political enemies of Fidel Castro.
In Cuba itself, however, one didn’t detect any alterations of everyday life. Radio stations were broadcasting music, the national media didn’t announce any special program, and Fidel Castro sent a message of greetings to the School of Medicine.
On the island, no one is surprised by the disappearance from public sight of the former president, who left public life years ago. He now has no governmental or party responsibilities, and when he receives a visitor, it’s in private, with no need for press coverage.
Few people expect that his death will be concealed. Since 2006 that eventuality has been worked on. Practically all of the government has been changed without political fissures presenting themselves and with Raul Castro appearing to have consolidated his leadership.
Some sources claim that there is already a national plan for when his death occurs, which includes an immediate announcement, the temporary placement of his body at Revolution Square, a procession around the island, and his burial in the Sierra Maestra.
(*) An authorized HT translation of the original appearing in Cartasdesdecuba.com.