What really happened to Fidel: The gruesome facts and strategic implications.
Written by Dagny D'Anconia    Friday, 29 September 2006

The official statement from Cuba is that Fidel Castro was overworked and required surgery as a result. How fitting for the leader of the Island Workers' Paradise to work himself sick. How noble an illness. Though Castro's actual ailment was declared a state secret, the publicly available information points conclusively to a very different cause for his illness than the official one.

If he had an operation, then he should have recovered by now. In the photo below, released on September 1, about five weeks after his illness began, note how pallid Castro is. Many weeks after surgery, he still looks as if he has a severe blood shortage. In particular, note the pallor of his hand.

Castro looking like a pale ghost. (September 1)

There is no doubt that Castro had available to him any quantity of blood needed for transfusions, yet weeks later, something was still causing him to lose blood to the degree that transfusions could not keep up with the loss. Furthermore, look at the long-sleeve red shirt. Such a shirt in summer in Cuba is rare - and even more so in a hospital, where red clothing is not used because it does not show bleeding and long sleeves are not used because they do not allow access for IV lines.

Castro and Chavez join the Red Shirt Society. Note the white hand of Castro. (August 13)

Castro was as pale as a dead man. Something was causing him to lose blood. He was wearing long sleeves that could hide IV lines. If he sprang a leak on camera, the blood would not be noticeable on red clothes. He must still have been bleeding freely and his people wanted to hide that fact. Something mysterious was causing his continued bleeding.

Castro is not the only famous Stalinist to experience mysterious bleeding. Fifty years after Joseph Stalin died of a brain hemorrhage, studies finally came out of Russia suggesting that he was poisoned by comrades in the Politburo and then bled to death in his dacha.

Recently released first drafts of his autopsy noted extensive internal bleeding, particularly in the stomach and brain. Such strange internal bleeding is easily explained if Stalin consumed warfarin five to ten days before his death. Warfarin is an odorless, tasteless rat poison that renders the blood unable to clot, which leads to uncontrollable bleeding and death if left untreated.

Stalin's death fortunately averted a planned massive Jewish pogrom, as well as a rumored plot in which Stalin planned to accuse the United States of planting a nuclear device in Moscow and declare war. Nikita Khrushchev, one of the four comrades at the dacha, rose to take Stalin's place after his death. Another comrade present was Lavrenti Beria, head of the secret police, who was quoted in Khrushchev's memoirs as saying, "I did him in! I saved all of you." In any case, there were both motives and opportunity to assassinate Stalin.

Nikita Khrushchev embraces Castro many years ago.

Now, 53 years later, another rat may have been poisoned. In this case, the Stalinist in question is Fidel Castro. Once again there are plenty of people with both motive and opportunity.

At the time of Stalin's death, warfarin had been recently invented and was being aggressively marketed to kill rats. Thus it was widely available. It makes the rat thirsty, so the rat wanders off seeking water. It takes a while to kill the rat after ingestion, so the rat leaves and dies away from the homeowner's property. This delayed reaction also makes it a useful poison for an assassin, who can administer it and then escape long before the effects are felt.

In Stalin's time, it could take days to administer an adequate dose of warfarin. Today we have "superwarfarin" (also known as brodifacoum), available in d-CON and other widely available rat poisons. A single dose of as little as 1 mg can cause blood-clotting problems. Like warfarin, it has a long lag time before symptoms appear and is most effective given over a period of time. Unlike warfarin, however, the effects of each dose of superwarfarin can last for months.

Massive bleeding occurs in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, as well as in the brain, spinal cord, liver, and other organs. The most life-threatening bleeding is in the GI tract and the brain. Since the effects last for months, so does treatment, which consists of transfusions and administration of clotting factors from blood and vitamin K.

Treatment works best when begun quickly; if it is delayed, the person can die of internal hemorrhaging, as Stalin did. The treatment requires constant monitoring so the blood does not clot too much, leading to blood clots and strokes, or too little, leading to hemorrhaging, shock, and neural damage. For months it is a vampire-like existence requiring blood products from many people.

When Castro survived the initial effects of the poisoning, many Cubans were relieved. Thinking that the problem was, as the Cuban government said, a case of overwork requiring surgery, they also believed that Castro would be back ruling Cuba once he healed from the operation. Indeed, if his ailment were what the official report said it was, he would have been back at the helm by now, and he would have run the summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) the third week in September as expected. Why isn't he back?

When a person suffers brain hemorrhages and prolonged low blood pressure, as well as prolonged loss of oxygen to the brain, nerve and brain damage result. When Argentine lawmaker Miguel Bonasso visited Castro on September 15, Castro told him, "I have to get rid of the numbness," so there was undoubtedly some neural damage. The question is how much.

We hear dignitaries who visit Castro say how strong his is, how lucid, etc. Yet Castro has yet to make a public appearance. Cuba took over the three-year leadership of the NAM from Malaysia on Friday, September 15. Asked whether his brother would attend the NAM summit being hosted by Cuba in Havana from September 11 to 16, Raul Castro said, "Sure, he is already feeling like a lion." Yet Castro did not attend the meeting.

Still, his friends claimed he was strong. "What kind of human being is this? What material is it made of? It is, as you people say, made of caguairin," Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez reportedly said, using the name of the tropical hardwood tree that Granma, Cuba's official Communist Party newspaper, has used to describe Castro in recent days.

Following one visit, Chavez said the Cuban leader was walking and singing and "almost well enough to play baseball." On a later occasion he said, in virtually identical words, "He is more alive than ever, he walks, he sings and he is even ready to play baseball." "He looks better every time," said Chavez, who has visited the ailing 80-year-old on several occasions.

Castro received visits from a few leaders of the developing world who had gathered in Havana for the NAM summit. His first such guest was Argentine lawmaker Miguel Bonasso, a friend and staunch admirer who said after his meeting that the communist leader was "as lucid and sharp as ever."

Bonasso wrote that Castro spoke to him softly, but at times gave orders to aides in a loud voice "to demonstrate he can go back to giving speeches anytime now." "You see, I can speak in a very loud tone of voice if I want to," Castro was quoted as telling his guest.

Still, Castro did not attend the summit. Even though he could walk, sing, and even yell at servants, he still could not attend the summit.

By now Castro had better skin color in photographs; he no longer looked like a pale ghost. He was no longer wearing the blood red clothing, but instead had shifted to the more typical hospital blue clothing. Both his color and his clothing suggested that the bleeding had been brought under control. He had visits from Kofi Annan and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Yet he still could not attend the NAM summit.

It tells you something if a person is physically well but cannot be seen in public. It suggests that perhaps the man might say any sort of crazy thing. It suggests brain damage. Such damage would be entirely expected as a result of a superwarfarin attack. A brain hemorrhage that did not kill could still maim and cause a wide range of mental damage. Castro could be quite addled, deluded and even somewhat insane as a result of brain damage.

Grandpa's strange talk makes me laugh. Bonasso seems to find Castro quite hilarious now.

Close allies visited him, but none said that Castro had lost his mind. To do so would show weakness in the face of the US, thus inviting attack or revolution. They did their best to keep up appearances. Furthermore, a few mindless pleasantries and a little luck could possibly make Castro seem OK. Anyone who has taken care of elderly people knows that they can seem normal one moment and quite addled the next.

Meanwhile, Hugo Chavez has been doing his best to be the top strongman in the developing world. As the NAM meeting went on and key tyrants met with Castro, they would probably have to have been brought in on the little secret of Castro's mental status. No doubt they were shaking in their boots that one of their own had been hit.

Chavez helped matters along by scaring them to death: "If the United States invades Cuba, blood will run. ... We will not have our arms crossed while bombs are falling in Havana or they carry Raul off in a plane!" Recall that this is the same Raul who immediately went into hiding after his brother Fidel Castro fell ill. Fearing an assassination attempt and not knowing where it would come from, he was no strongman.

In contrast, Chavez sought to fill the power vacuum. He made alliances with Iran, Syria, China and Angola. He went to the UN and performed as the strongman standing up to Bush the "devil," "liar" and "tyrant." Chavez was obviously trying to take the place of Castro, and he used the illness of Castro to capitalize on those plans. Chavez insisted that Bush had ordered his, Chavez's, assassination, but he went ahead with his grandstanding performance at the UN anyway.

Cuban doctors were to travel with Chavez to the UN, but their visas were denied or delayed because they were not Venezuelan. Now, why would Chavez want Cuban doctors to accompany him? Surely he has plenty of his own Venezuelan doctors. Perhaps it was because the Cuban doctors were the most up to date on how to treat such poisoning and would be ready to intervene. They would be medical insurance against a similar assassination attempt on Chavez.

Given that Castro was probably poisoned, who did it, and when? Castro is usually within a cocoon of protection in Cuba. He left that cocoon on July 24, however, when he traveled to Cordoba, Argentina, to meet with other Latin American leaders at the Mercosur summit.  The timing is about right given the time lag associated with warfarin. It was during that visit that he said he first started to feel ill. Perhaps he consumed superwarfarin there.

Any of a number of people could have done it, either there, in Cuba, or en route to Mercosur. There are several interesting coincidences that suggest there were many people with the means and the incentive to harm Castro at that time.

Castro with good skin color and mentally capable at Mercosur. What a difference a few weeks can make.

One coincidence involves gambling interests in Nevada. Senator John Ensign, R-Nev., was on the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba in July 2006 and introduced legislation to fund dissidents in Cuba on August 1, 2006. He last proposed this new push for funds to help free Cuba back in 2003. It has been a longtime goal of the senator to free Cuba. That a new push was made mere days before the apparent assassination attempt is an interesting coincidence.

By all appearances, Senator Ensign is an upright Republican. His interest in freeing the people of Cuba is longstanding and well motivated. Nevertheless, it is a bit strange that the senator from Nevada introduced the legislation instead of the senator from Florida. Nevada is a long way from Cuba, and Senator Ensign probably has relatively few Cuban refugees in his constituency.

He does, however, have some very wealthy casino owners in his constituency. If Cubans were freed, Cuban casinos and resorts would once again be a booming business, as they were before Castro. If the casino owners came to the senator to encourage the freedom of Cuba for their own financial reasons, it would be reasonable for him to give the project extra attention at that time. 

Castro has long accused the Mafia of trying to kill him. Ensign's new push for freeing Cuba occurred only a few days before Castro's poisoning. The timing suggests that casino interests in Nevada may have known ahead of time that Castro would be poisoned and pressed for the legislation through their state's senator. Castro may have been paranoid about the Mafia for good reason.

There are also people within Cuba with a new incentive to kill Castro. In May and June of this year, Castro went on an anti-corruption rampage. Free market policies had crept in during the Cuban economic downturn of the '90s and the abandonment by the Soviets. With the new money from Hugo Chavez, the "corruption" of free market activity could once again be rooted out. Castro had often said that the downfall of the Soviets was due not to American strength and pressure but rather to internal corruption. To him "corruption" meant any free market activity.

Thus, in May and June the top Communist Party bosses were sacked in five out of fourteen Cuban provinces, along with the ministers of Light Industry, Higher Education, and Audit and Control. Students and the military were drafted to fight corruption, the military put in charge of managing the ports and students manning gas stations. They found that about half of the gasoline had been swiped, and that entire cargo containers were missing. There had been a flourishing illegal black market, which Castro shut down. Thus Cuba's own homegrown criminal enterprises may have had motive and opportunity as well.

The Castro government claimed the CIA had attempted to kill Castro more than 600 times over the years. Even as recently as July 22 at Mercosur, Chavez said he was "very happy at turning 80, something I never had hoped for, much less when we had a neighbor, by chance the most powerful force worldwide, trying to eliminate me every day."

Although the finger is inevitably pointed at the CIA, it is unlikely the agency had anything to do with the poisoning. The leftist crowd in charge there now is more likely to do lunch with Castro than do him in with lunch.

There are so many entities with a motive to kill Castro that it is beginning to sound like the Onion's parody on the JFK killing, "exposing" CIA, Mafia, Castro, LBJ, Teamsters and Freemasons as JFK's simultaneous assassins ( ). It is probable that there was an assassination attempt against Castro, by any one of a number of plausible assailants, and that his once sharp mind is now dulled or dead.

Consider the irony: After decades of silencing and locking up his own powerless and embarrassing people, Castro himself is now silenced and locked away from the public as a powerless embarrassment.

Time will tell whether Castro will regain enough of his mental faculties to reclaim any position of authority in Cuba. At this point he is too alive to be cast aside and too dead to do the job of running a Stalinist state. Even worse than dead, he is in a limbo where he is still the emotional head of the government, but he is unable to function. The assassination attempt may be more effective than a successful assassination.

Raul Castro, the uninspiring current leader, is afraid to be seen for fear of assassination. The government has no clear leader. The head has been cut off of the chicken, but it is still running around in a grotesque imitation of life. Meanwhile, the Cuban people wait religiously for the glorious return of Fidel Castro.

[Meanwhile, rumors fly that Castro is already dead because he has been hidden away so long. Brazil’s president inadvertently referred to Castro as no longer alive. To keep up appearances, a tape of Castro was shown recently with him looking pale as ever, walking like a zombie and insisting he is not dead yet. There was no way to tell when it was made, and people cannot help but wonder why he has not been seen in public yet if he can be seen on the carefully selected and edited videotape excerpts.

To dispel the rumors, Hugo Chavez said that Castro “is walking about and goes out at night to visit the countryside, villages, and towns.” So Fidel goes wandering the villages at night - but no one comes forward to tell of his visits. Have all those transfusions made him the modern equivalent of a vampire, living off of the blood of his peasants, or is he just your normal bloodsucking Stalinist? Or is he just occasionally wandering off in the night when his watchers are asleep like so many brain damaged patients?

So, if you happen to be in Cuba this Halloween, and see a ghostly pale and mumbling visage of Fidel Castro wandering around in the night like a deranged zombie, you have witnessed a real Halloween horror in progress. - added by Dagny 30 Nov. 2006]


Castro at Mercosur summit: July 21-24

Last seen in public: July 26

Castro surgery announced, Raul takes over: July 31

First photos, with Castro looking ghostly white and wearing bright red sweatshirt, first sighting of Raul Castro in public, Chavez visits in bright red shirt for Castro's birthday: August 13 Castro photographed sitting up in dark red pajamas, Chavez in black: September 1 Castro photographed reading and writing, sitting in chair in short sleeve light or navy blue hospital pajamas: September 5 Bonasso and others visit Castro during NAM meeting: September 15, 18

Castro says, "I have to get rid of the numbness": September 18

[This is 15 in text above (highlighted).]

Chavez says Bush has ordered his assassination: September 22

Relevant Links and References http://edition.cnn/2006/WORLD/americas/09/14/chavez.cuba.ap/index.html & The Economist, June 17, 2006: "Send in the Social Workers",2933,213966,00.html,20867,20467604-23109,00.html;_ ylt=AjvUHNIVgYp33ao3aHIZkMeaK8MA;_ylu=X3oDMTA5bGVna3NhBHNlYwNzc3JlbA --