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¿Dónde está Fidel Castro?

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By Michelle Malkin  •  August 16, 2007 06:51 AM

Humberto Fontova writes today at Frontpage:

Only one thing was missing when Fidel Castro’s 81st birthday passed on August 13: Fidel Castro.

There was no appearance by the dictator, no snapshot or salutation from him in the official press, and little fanfare from the regime. A small fireworks show on Havana’s waterfront, El Malecon, was the highlight. “The Comandante will never appear again in public,” said a Cuban student to Yolanda Martinez, Cuban correspondent for Mexico’s newspaper, Reforma. “He has been an imposing figure, but his role at Cuba’s head is over.”

The regime’s succession plans seem to be operating smoothly. This student’s attitude is undoubtedly the one encouraged by the regime: calm, complacent, even jaded. Fidel Castro’s successors want no shocks, no expectations of genuine change, nothing to provoke any popular unrest, much less ignite an explosion. In an interview last week, Fidel Castro’s own niece, Mariela, was dutifully doing her part in breaking the news gently. “The concern that we all had about losing our leader is now closer to us,” she told Spanish news Agency EFE. “Fidel Castro retains great influence in Cuba through his moral authority, but the country is moving on with or without Fidel.”

“Moral.”

Cuban exiles watch, wait, and pray for a change of leadership back home, reports VOA.

And Ricardo Chavira reports:

Many are convinced that Fidel will not resume his old duties and will die before too long. That belief is fueling widespread sentiment in favor of radical economic change. Dozens of Cubans interviewed this summer said they believed the elder Castro — who continues to denounce free-market practices — is blocking badly needed reforms, including sharp wage increases.

His death should remove any barrier to change. The restiveness is palpable and a significant departure from the quiet apathy many Cubans have felt during nearly 50 years of communist rule.

Even now Cubans are generally unwilling to criticize the government. Article 62 of the constitution states: “No recognized freedoms can be exercised against the constitution or the law, nor against the decision of the Cuban people to build socialism and communism,” greatly constricting freedom of speech.

“I think we are the only country with this kind of leadership,” says Jeanette, a teacher, who asked that her full name not be used for fear of political reprisal. “Officially Fidel is recuperating. But it has been a year. What kind of recuperation is that for a man who is 80-plus years old? He has to be very ill, but we are not being told the truth.”

Tick, tick, tick.

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