Fidel Castro almost died in 2006, according to US cables leaked by WikiLeaks, but his passing would likely have little impact over the direction of Cuba.
Speculation is the name of the game when it comes to Cuba's secretive internal affairs. And no issue has garnered more wagers than the health of Fidel Castro, who temporarily stepped down as leader in 2006 due to illness and ceded permanent control to his younger brother Raúl Castro in 2008.
Was Mr. Castro on his deathbed four years ago? What would his passing mean for Cuba? Is his reemergence on the public stage this summer, with a sudden flurry of speeches and impromptu appearances, a sign that he is back in power?
A 2007 cable apparently penned by Michael Palmry, then the top US diplomat to Cuba, said that Mr. Castro did almost die in 2006, on an airplane, when he suffered a perforated intestine. After the incident, an unnamed doctor offered the following prognosis: “He won’t die immediately, but he will progressively lose his faculties and become ever more debilitated until he dies.”
So far, however, that does not seem to be the case for the US Cold War enemy who recently praised WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for bringing the US “morally to its knees.” Predictions on Castro's health have, to his foes, been disappointingly exaggerated, even though his longterm health will probably have little sway over the direction of Cuba, according to US diplomats' assessments in other leaked documents.