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November 16, 2005

Cuba’s Shaky Future

Does Castro have Parkinson’s Disease?

The CIA recently concluded that Cuban leader Fidel Castro suffers from Parkinson's disease and has warned U.S. policymakers to be ready for trouble if the 79-year-old ruler's health erodes over the next few years.
The article notes a bit about Parkinson’s, how it doesn’t really shorten one’s life much, but, in many, overall mental function starts to slide. It then hashes out the political ramifications.
Damián Fernández, director of Florida International University's Cuban Research Institute, said the larger questions are how Castro's subordinates would react to his mental or physical erosion, and how that could affect Raúl's role as Cuba's No. 2.

''I envision Raúl [Castro’s brother and head of the armed forces]trying to forge key alliances with subordinates in the military and among civilians to rule very tightly,'' he said. ''But I don't know how this could sustain itself without delivering benefits'' to the Cuban people.

That's assuming that Raúl, 74, does not die before his brother. That would leave Fidel without a clear successor and the powerful military, now controlled by the younger brother, without a widely recognized or respected leader.

The result might be political turmoil as senior government officials jockey for power with a Fidel Castro too infirm to make vital decisions.

Interesting. Not sure how this will play out, but I’m pulling for the most entertaining scenario – Castro loses it but continues with those eight hour speeches, the audience not permitted to leave, while El Commandante goes off on the proper consistency of kitten pudding or his project to paint the ocean orange. Fun times ahead.

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posted by Dr. Reo Symes at 12:58 PM

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