Fidel Castro’s medical condition continues to worsen, the Spanish newspaper El Pais reported last night, and the doctors in Cuba have been unable to resolve the problem. An infection in his intestines as a complication of his earlier surgery has the long-standing dictator on death’s door — again:
Ailing Cuban leader Fidel Castro is in “very grave” condition after three failed operations and complications from an intestinal infection, a Spanish newspaper said Tuesday.
The newspaper El Pais cited two unnamed sources from the Gregorio Maranon hospital in the Spanish capital of Madrid. The facility employs surgeon Jose Luis Garcia Sabrido, who flew to Cuba in December to treat the 80-year-old Castro.
In a report published on its Web site, El Pais said: “A grave infection in the large intestine, at least three failed operations and various complications have left the Cuban dictator, Fidel Castro, laid up with a very grave prognosis.”
The fact that the Cuban government flew Dr. Sabrido in from Spain to consult caused its own controversy a while ago. Cuba has always bragged about its free health care to Cubans as a key success for their workers’ paradise, but the necessity of finding a qualified physician from outside Cuba — an option not available to the workers in this paradise — exposed a little of the truth about the health-care system on the island. (For a little more of the truth, check out my post from March 2005, and this Babalublog post.)
So does this spell the end of Fidel and the Communist dictatorship in Cuba? Maybe. He was supposed to be at death’s door last year, too, but managed to hang on this long. He’s in his eighties and cannot live forever, but he’s done a pretty good job of surviving so far. While the Spanish press is much more reliable than the Cuban government-controlled media, it’s hard to say how much to trust this latest report from two sources who have not attended Castro at all. I’d recommend a little skepticism. So far, Castro’s final days seem more like the old SNL routine about Generalissimo Francisco Franco and his valiant effort to remain dead, but in reverse.
However, if you want to follow this story closely, you will want to keep an eye on Babalublog. Val and his co-bloggers have their pulse on the Cuban ex-pat community in Florida, a better source for the kind of signs that would accompany a change in power in Havana — certainly more reliable than the Cuban press.