Sunday, November 12, 2006

INSIDER: Castro may be dead by years's end. Cuban dictator is still "gravely ill"

Three months after undergoing abdominal surgery for an undisclosed ailment — despite Cuban protestations to the contrary. “He is well. He’s been resting a bit because of the operation he had,” Castro’s brother Ramon recently told The Associated Press. But in a video released in late October, Fidel appeared slow and awkward, and his speech was shaky. He wore an oversized track suit and bathrobe, leaving open the possibility that he has been fitted with a colostomy bag. “I have been saying it for a while — that the recovery would be prolonged and not exempt of risk,” Castro, who turned 80 in August, said on the tape. In the video, Castro was shown doing walk-in-place exercises, “slowly swinging his elbows as his slippered feet, set wide, marked time but did not move forward,” the Miami Herald reported. That is “exactly what you would have expected for somebody who has been ill for an extended period of time, who has not been active,” University of Miami gastroenterologist Dr. Jeffrey Raskin told the Herald. “You have a wide-based gait to steady yourself because you’re weak.” Dr. Raskin and Dr. Charles Gerson, a gastroenterologist at Mount Sinai in New York, both said Fidel’s long “recovery” suggests a serious illness, such as cancer. “Usually for a benign condition, if you have surgery, after a month or six weeks you are back to normal,” Dr. Gerson said. “Three months after surgery, he should be better.” U.S. intelligence insiders believe Castro is “gravely ill,” according to the Herald. One former U.S. government official, who requested anonymity, said Washington has obtained “pretty reliable” information that indicates Castro is not recovering as well as Cuba claims. “The latest I’ve heard was still pretty grave for Castro,” the official told the Herald. “Castro may not make it through the New Year.”


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