I started hearing new rumors of Fidel Castro’s death a few weeks ago, from friends in Venezuela and the U.S., and even in Spain. Then newspaper articles started popping up. I thought it was amusing that the talk was going on as I was preparing for my next trip to Cuba. I wondered what the people of Cuba would say about it.
This past weekend, the buzz has culminated with new “proof” that he is alive. The Associated Press has reported that former Venezuelan Vice President Elias Jaua stated he met with Fidel for five hours this weekend. He said Fidel even accompanied him to the Hotel Nacional on Saturday. That is the hundred-year-old hotel with two towers that stands on a small hill overlooking the Malecon in Havana. I was at that hotel for several hours on Saturday. I wish I had seen the duo. But actually, the article does not indicate Fidel got out of the van. And it says a hotel executive was in the van for a photo. It seems to me a little odd that he would go for an outing, remain in a van, invite hotel personnel into the van to take photos, etc., etc. I also didn’t see a van, or people getting in and out of a van, or anything else like that. Well, maybe that is what happened. Who knows? Who cares?
Reports state that the recent indications that Fidel was gravely ill were raised by Jose Marquina, a Venezuelan doctor in Naples, Fla. He has now been quoted as saying he did not believe the story of the photograph in the van was real.
Marquina is quoted as saying, "The information that I have is that it was a maid who claimed to have seen him. This is a fabrication. If you're going to believe the communists, who have been lying forever, that's OK. I don't believe them."
Now I’m almost embarrassed to be speculating and writing about whether he’s alive or not. Does it really matter? I doubt it. Cubans have told me that they believe Raul is just as bad as Fidel, and even though he has been behind the recent improvements (improving socialism?), he is a dangerous tyrant, and nothing will change if Fidel is dead.
At the same time that the other discussions are going on, there have been news reports in Miami about what would happen if Fidel dies.
In a 2007 article, a Miami, Florida official was quoted as saying that when Fidel died, there revelers would be herded to the Orange Bowl in order to contain their enthusiasm. A CNN article at the time, said, “A Miami official said his idea of holding an event at the Orange Bowl when Fidel Castro dies has been misconstrued. “It's not a party. It's not going to be a conga line, I promise you," said Miami city commissioner Tomás Regalado.”
But that article was also resurrected this week, with a new article: Mayor Tomas Regalado Zings the Marlins On Rumors of Castro's Death
The article said, “Remember how the City of Miami made some controversial plans to allow protesters to gather in the Orange Bowl when Fidel Castro dies? Yeah, well, the city has never updated those plans even though the Orange Bowl was demolished and replaced with the Marlins Stadium.”
Regalado was asked last week about the use of the new stadium that replaced the Orange Bowl, and he reportedly told the Miami Herald, "I don't think the Marlins would want that. Knowing them, they would charge to protest." I wonder if he’s made a new enemy, by making such a statement about the Marlins.
The new article also says, “With rumors of Castro's health problems swirling, Regalado says that the city will update plans on how to deal with protesters in the event he finally kicks the bucket.”
I have asked Cuban taxi drivers and others what they think about whether Fidel is alive or dead. Some know of the rumors. They say such rumors are nothing new. They shrug. They don’t seem to think it would make any difference.