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Viewing cable 07HAVANA5, CASTRO ALIVE FOR 48TH ANNIVERSARY OF REGIME

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07HAVANA5 2007-01-03 18:06 2010-12-15 21:09 CONFIDENTIAL US Interests Section Havana
VZCZCXRO8314
PP RUEHAG RUEHROV
DE RUEHUB #0005/01 0031849
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 031849Z JAN 07
FM USINT HAVANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1070
INFO RUEHWH/WESTERN HEMISPHERIC AFFAIRS DIPL POSTS PRIORITY
RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES PRIORITY
RUEHSW/AMEMBASSY BERN PRIORITY 0031
RUEHROV/AMEMBASSY VATICAN PRIORITY 0021
RUESDM/JTLO MIAMI FL PRIORITY
RUCOGCA/COMNAVBASE GUANTANAMO BAY CU PRIORITY
RUMIAAA/USCINCSO MIAMI FL PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HAVANA 000005 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/03/2017 
TAGS: PGOV PINS PINR CU
SUBJECT: CASTRO ALIVE FOR 48TH ANNIVERSARY OF REGIME 
 
REF: MADRID 3095 
 
HAVANA 00000005  001.3 OF 002 
 
 
Classified By: DCM Buddy Williams; Reasons 1.4 (b/d) 
 
1. (C) Summary:  Cuban media carried a New Years message from 
Fidel Castro noting the passing of 48 years since he assumed 
power, and also announcing that he is still on a slow path to 
recovery from his medical crisis.  XXXXXXXXXXXX 
still believes Castro is terminally ill, even if the report 
from Spanish doctor Jose Luis Garcia Sabrido's visit says he 
does not have cancer.  Cuban media made no mention of the 
Spanish doctor's visit.  A contact close to Castro's sister 
reports that the sick dictator is not mentally fit to retake 
control of the government, even if he physically recovers. 
New Years was otherwise a low-key event in Havana.  End 
Summary. 
 
2. (U) The new calendar year is the occasion for the Cuban 
regime to celebrate one more year of its own ascent to 
power--January 1, 1959 being the day that Castro's 
predecessor Fulgencio Batista, fled Cuba into exile.  2007 is 
officially dubbed "Year 49 of the Revolution," a less 
thematic name that 2006, which was the "Year of the Energy 
Revolution."  GOC media on December 31 all carried Fidel 
Castro's New Year's message, which is essentially a pep talk 
to the country and his own medical status report.  It is 
unknown if he wrote or even edited the text.  Highlights are 
as follows: 
 
-- We've completed a year of great effort and encouraging 
results in the Battle of Ideas and programs in the Energy 
Revolution...We were dignified hosts of the Non-Aligned 
Summit, and continued our tenacious resistance to the 
empire's blockade and aggression... 
 
-- I thank you all for your affection and support.  Regarding 
my recovery, I have always warned that it would be a 
prolonged process, but it's far from being a lost battle.  I 
cooperate as a disciplined patient with the dedicated team of 
doctors that take care of me. 
 
-- I have not stopped keeping abreast of important events and 
news.  I exchange ideas with my closest collaborators 
whenever it has been necessary on matters of vital importance. 
 
3. (C) Postscript to Spanish doctor visit:  Dr. Garcia 
Sabrido's Madrid media interview December 26 provided some 
new information, although seen through the prism of Cuban 
popular opinion, is tainted by Garcia Sabrido's close 
association with the regime and the Castro family.  USINT 
Human Rights Assistant on December 29 visited Teresita Paz, 
wife of the late Gustavo Arcos (former GOC official and later 
a dissident); Teresita is friends with one of Fidel Castro's 
sisters and has contact with her on a regular basis. 
Teresita characterized the Spanish doctor's visit to  Cuba a 
"farce," adding that the Castro sister said just a few days 
ago that Fidel's mind is now completely gone, and he is never 
going to be able to get back to work."  Pro-democracy leader 
XXXXXXXXXXXX told P-E Counselor December 28th that 
the Spanish doctor's visit proved that Cuba is not the 
medical superpower it makes itself out to be, which was why 
GOC media refrained from giving the visit any publicity. 
Independent journalist Miriam Leiva made the same point in an 
op-ed column on December 29th. 
 
4. (C) USINT Health Unit View:  USINT's Nurse Practitioner, 
with experience and training in oncology, has provided the 
following updated assessment of Fidel Castro's health: 
 
"Based on the photos we've seen, Fidel Castro appears very 
weakened and cachectic, and it was reported publicly that he 
lost 20 kilograms in just six weeks from his July 28 
emergency abdominal surgery due to hemorrhaging.  His October 
28 appearance, in a five-minute video, shows him in an 
over-sized jogging suit and walking two-three steps as if he 
were a marionette swinging his arms robot-style to somehow 
show strength.  But it was so obviously overstated as to 
almost be comical. 
 
Although his diagnosis is a "state secret," it appeared and 
still appears he is terminally ill -- having lost over ten 
percent of his body weight in such a short time and not being 
strong enough to walk; plus his last public words over a 
month ago were mostly nonsensical babble. 
 
 
HAVANA 00000005  002.3 OF 002 
 
 
Given the statistical odds of a colon, lung, or prostate 
malignancy for an erstwhile smoker 80 years of age, I was 
leaning towards a metastatic colon or otherwise upper 
abdominal cancer with approximately six months to live from 
the date of the surgery.  But, if the Spanish doctor is to be 
believed, then Castro may have had a perforated viscus 
(bowel) with an inflammatory mass and septic peritonitis 
(bacteria strewn throughout organs).  The differential 
diagnosis includes: 
 
-- Perforated peptic ulcer 
-- Perforated diverticulum 
-- Necrotic gall bladder 
-- Mesenteric ischemia (compromised blood flow) of the colon, 
with necrosis and perforation. 
 
All this points to a very sick individual, whose recovery is 
made that much more difficult by the weight loss and possible 
sepsis. 
 
5. (C) Comment:  Embassy Madrid's report places Garcia 
Sabrido's medical reputation above his regime sympathies, 
which leads us to believe that the Cuban medical team 
treating Castro may be able to keep him alive longer than we 
originally estimated.  Such a medical diagnosis leaves the 
Raul-Castro-led clique currently in charge for an extended 
period of limbo, characterized by stresses and strains in the 
palace and popular expectation that 2007 should be a year of 
change and economic improvement.  It will be nearly 
impossible for anything good to happen (economy, human 
rights, international relations) as long as this limbo period 
keeps running. 
PARMLY