Only briefly glimpsed since the announcement that he was hospitalized, and his brother Raul was in charge, Fidel Castro has not appeared at the public celebration of his 80th birthday. As the focus for a cult of personality, it’s pretty significant when the guest of honor doesn’t show up. According to this story, the celebrations have a distinctly funereal “celebrating the life of a great man” air to them… although the official Cuban media is down on their knees, and singing fulsome praise, in perfect tune and right worshipful chorus.
A statement was read out at a gala event at the Karl Marx theater, which leaves the interested to wonder all over again— exactly how sick is he, that popping out on a balcony for a few moments to wave a hand to the faithful is simply out of the question? Is he terminally ill with cancer, as this article speculates?

The festivities are supposed to go on for five days, so there is always the chance, but five months out of the limelight is an awfully long time for someone who has been Cuba’s sun, moon and stars for half a century. Can the Cuban charisma-making machinery crank up enough speed to give Raul the same standing? And of course, the big question… will Communist Cuba outlast the man who created it? Stay tuned…

“Sgt. Mom” is a freelance writer and retired Air Force NCO who blogs at www.sgtstryker.com, and lives in San Antonio.

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