Cubans prepare for Cuba without Fidel Castro
- From: bromselick@xxxxxxx
- Date: 25 Aug 2006 06:40:21 -0700
By Reuters - Anthony Boadle: Tuesday August 15, 2006 [06:03]
HAVANA - Fidel Castro in a hospital bed have brought home to Cubans
the prospect that the man who has decided most aspects of their lives
for 47 years may never be the same.
Even if Castro recovers from surgery from intestinal bleeding, the
tireless revolutionary will have to put his workaholic days behind
him, a top Castro aide said.
In messages to the nation, Castro has told Cubans to prepare for the
worst. Government officials say he will be back in charge within
weeks, but will have to slow down.
Ricardo Alarcon, president of Cuba's National Assembly and a close
Castro aide, said in an interview with NBC on Saturday that doctors
have told Castro to rest if he wants to recover, and the Cuban
leader, not used to taking orders, is obeying.
"Imagine Fidel Castro sitting or lying on a bed quietly. Not moving
around. Not talking to others. It's the first time in his life,"
Castro's legendary stamina has been the driving force behind Cuba
since his 1959 revolution, from eight-hour speeches to all-night
Foreign visitors tell of meetings lasting until the wee hours, with
Castro doing most of the talking and expounding on all matter of
world affairs, while some guests nodded off.
Castro's abdominal bleeding was brought on by overexertion, official
accounts say, after a trip to a regional summit in Argentina
followed by a day of speeches in eastern Cuba.
There are no statues of Castro in Cuba, but the bearded left-wing
firebrand is omnipresent in portraits in offices and homes. The
state-run media broadcasts and rebroadcasts his lengthy speeches.
Cubans are used to seeing Castro returning home from work in his
motorcade at dawn. Ministers have been called in the middle of the
night for statistics by a president who has micromanaged Cuba for
"Now he has to let others govern. He has done enough already," said
Alexis Wilson, a driver sitting outside his dilapidated home in
Havana's Vedado district.
But he added that Cuba still needed Castro as a figurehead to guide
his successors, headed by younger brother Raul Castro, to whom Fidel
temporarily ceded power on July 31.
Many Cubans fear the country could fall into chaos without the
towering personality of Castro, a Jesuit-educated lawyer who came to
power at age 32.
Castro's exiled opponents have banked on Cuba's one-party system
collapsing without the man that built it. Cuba watchers believe a
scaled-backed leadership role by Castro may allow a stable transfer
of power that is already underway.
Wayne Smith, a former chief of the U.S. diplomatic mission in Havana,
said Castro's surgery allows Cubans to get used to the idea that he
may have to step aside altogether.
"It will not come as a shock. Even at present he is still there as a
reassuring figure in the background," Smith said. "Meanwhile, the
succession has taken place and Raul and others are now running the
Smith said Cuban exiles in Miami mistakenly believe that the Cuban
government will collapse when Castro dies and they will be able to
come back and run the country. "How absurd," he said.
The Bush administration has said it will not accept a succession led
by Defense Minister Raul Castro. The Cuban government is doing its
best to ensure that succession happens smoothly.
Marifeli Perez-Stable, a Cuban-born sociologist at Florida
International University, said Cuban authorities had prepared the
population well by pacing the news.
"First they showed Fidel was alive, then they showed Raul was running
the show and now we see ailing Fidel in bed suggesting he might come
back but not be the same," she said.
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