The reality of the situation is its unreality.
Is Castro dead? Until the Cuban government makes an official announcement, there is no way of knowing for sure.
The Cuban government, however, has very little to gain and a lot to lose if and when they make an official announcement.
Fidel Castro has cultivated a cult of personality that spans two centuries and five decades. At the present time there is no one Cuban political figure that would be able to hold the country together. Even today the Cuban foreign minister asserted that 81-year-old Castro was still in charge and was “being informed and consulted constantly,” because Castro is the end-all of all power.
Throughout the past year the world has been treated to a series of videos and photos showing the ailing Castro wearing a jogging suit while entertaining visiting dignitaries, most prominently his disciple Hugo Chavez. Chavez, who is providing Cuba 80,000 barrels of oil daily, always returns from these trips exulting about how well Fidel is recovering.
After each of these, the Cuban government’s newspaper, Granma, repeats the same carefully crafted message the Cuban people have been hearing for nearly fifty years: to continue the struggle, to strive for the impossible. The US is “a decaying empire that threatens us all”. It also reminds Cubans that they too, should endure their sorrows – sorrows inflicted by Castro’s own dictatorship – without complaint. The bottom line of the message is, Nothing is ever going to change.
But the reality is that things will change, and will change rapidly immediately following the news of the death. Everything, from large-scale civil upheaval from a people long-oppressed by a cruel government, to a large number of exiled Cubans seeking to reunite with their relatives by bringing them to the USA, to a total collapse of Cuban society, can not be dismissed as a possibility.
The existing Cuban power structure will collapse.
When Castro dies, will the Cuban government release the information at the time of the death? That is very unlikely. Even with all the behind-the-scenes preparations that may or may not have taken place over the past twelve months, there will be a delay because those in power will try to hold on to power for as long as they possibly can.
So the question is, for how long will the news of Castro’s death be delayed?