That was a short coma huh? Argentinian President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner (photo, far right) earlier this week met with Fidel Castro, later telling reporters that both talked for about an hour together and that Fidel was "doing well."
That meeting with Fidel took place on Wednesday, and earlier today the Argentinian government released a photo of that meeting. Some are now saying its been manipulated.
Just last week rumors of Fidel's health reached near hysteria. Local paper Diario Las Americas reported that Fidel Castro was in a coma, Cuba analyst Andy Gomez from ICCAS said that "high sources" from Washington were saying Fidel was "gravely ill," exile leaders in Miami held an emergency meeting on Saturday to prepare for a possible "great change" inside Cuba, and Val Prieto from the Babalu Blog couldn't decide which wine to celebrate with.
This kind of thing seems to occur regularly in Miami, just like it did in 2007. That year the rumors of Fidel Castro's death had also reached similar proportions. Strangely, even before Fidel Castro underwent surgery in 2006, these kind of rumors existed. As far back as 1998, a Cuban exile doctor by the name of Enrique Huertas told Diario Las Americas:
"the health of Cuba's tyrant is smashed, without possible treatment that can adequately resolve his situation... he has an undetermined cancerous problem, but with signs of metastasis, whose effects have been seen in his television appearances in recent days."
Yup, more than a decade ago!
So, Fidel Castro now reappears in a photo after several signs allowed some to suspect the worse, and now they can't believe it. Writers for the Babalu blog agree that the picture looks fake, and Radio Mambi's Ninoska Perez-Castellon believes it too has been manipulated.
According to Perez-Castellon, Fidel Castro may be alive, but the head of Fidel on the picture does not match. She believes that Fidel probably looks far worse, and that the Cuban government most likely "photoshopped" a healthier-looking head on Fidel. Perez-Castellon recalls Fidel's two prior photos (shown above) were "he's skeletal. He's even missing hair in his beard. And now, all of a sudden, hair is covering his ears!"[MP3]
But compare the three pictures above. You can view them closely here, here and here. In my opinion, Fidel Castro looks identical in all of them. Sure his hair looks shorter in some, but (newsflash) hair grows! And Fidel's beard looks the same. So, I'm thinking, is Ninoska Perez-Castellon and the writers at Babalu so biased its affecting their visual perception? Must be. But, they are not alone.
I just watched the 11PM news and Telemundo51 interviewed Jaime Suchlicki, from ICCAS, and he said that Fidel Castro looked "mummified" in the photo. Telemundo also interviewed Andy Gomez, also from ICCAS, and he said that Fidel looks very weak because in the photo he's using President Fernandez de Kirchner to hold himself up. Well, they may be right, or they may be totally wrong.
There's only a few pictures to analyze, and in all of them Fidel looks the same. To suggest anything about his health condition from so little evidence could lead to misinformation.
For example, in 2006, after Fidel Castro transferred power to Raul after undergoing intestinal surgery, Jaime Suchlicki told local news reporters: "I'm more inclined thinking about either that [Fidel is] so deteriorated or that he's dead." You see, Suchlicki was wrong then, and he may be wrong now.
I personally don't have much confidence in the work that comes from the Institute of Cuban and Cuban-American Studies (ICCAS).
So, in conclusion... You can believe that Fidel Castro is in reality a walking zombie whose photos have all been deceptively altered (for who know how long) by the Cuban government. And, that President Fernandez de Kirchner (not to mention all others who have visited Fidel Castro) is lying to the world because she was perhaps bribed by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, all of whom are part of an elaborate "political marketing operation" (as local Spanish-language news station AmericaTeVe put it) to simply settle a few tired rumors.
OR... You can believe that Fidel Castro is fine and still recuperating.
(Boy, being a militant against Fidel Castro is exhausting.)
[Update: Along the Malecon blog has the new Fidel photo in high-resolution, and additional background on its delivery to President Fernandez de Kirchner.]