Fidel Castro, the Cuban revolutionary leader who built the first communist statein the Western Hemisphere and for five decades defied U.S. efforts to topple him, is dead. There has been a shroud of secrecy surrounding Castro’s health. This has left many to wonder, how did Fidel Castro die? The 90-year-old communist leader of Cuba would often laugh off speculation about his physical ailments. In the summer of 2006, Castro stepped aside when he fell ill and was hospitalized with diverticulitis, according to the New York Times. Fidel spoke of his 2006 illness in an August 30, 2010, interview with the Mexican newspaper, La Jornada. Castro opened up about his health and told the newspaper that his weight dropped to 145 pounds, according to ABC News. Fidel’s health had been on the decline for the last several years.
“I was at death’s door, but I came back.”
Months after falling ill, Castro acknowledged that he underwent numerous surgeries for his condition. One of the surgeries had gone badly and almost killed him. Many Cubans were stunned when their leader announced he had undergone emergency intestinal surgery and temporarily relinquished presidential powers just 13 days before he turned 80-years-old, according to the New York Times.
According to Harvard Health, diverticular disease of the colon accounts for thousands of deaths in the United States.
“In all, diverticular disease of the colon accounts for 3,400 deaths in the United States each year while draining our economy of over $2.4 billion a year.”
“Diverticulosis happens when pouches (diverticula) form in the wall of the colon. If these pouches get inflamed or infected, it is called diverticulitis.”
It was highly speculated in the press that Castro suffered from diverticulitis. In an interview with La Jornada, Castro described lying in a hospital room during the illness, according to the New York Times.
“Laid out in that bed, I could only see what was around me, machines I did not understand … I didn’t know how long this torment would continue. The only thing I could hope for was that the world would stop.”
“But I recovered.”
Castro had to give up most of his powers for the first time. He provisionally gave much of his power to his younger brother Raúl, who is now 85-years-old. Two years later, Castro formally resigned as president. Fidel tried to dictate the details of his own medical care, according to the New York Times.
In 2007, National Assembly President Ricardo Alarcon told Reuters before a lunch meeting that Fidel Castro was recovering “very well.”
“He is recovering, doing very well and keeping abreast of everything… He continues to make progress. We shouldn’t be impatient.”
With both admirers and detractors in Cuba and worldwide, Castro repeatedly asked Cubans not to worry about his health after the rumor. However, in January of 2009, Castro did write a farewell letter to Cubans which was published in the state-run newspaper, according to The Telegraph.
“I’m well, but I insist that no-one should feel obligated by … my ailing health or my death … I have had the rare privilege of observing events over such a long time. I receive information and meditate calmly on those events. I expect I won’t enjoy that privilege in four years when Obama’s first presidential term has ended.”
The aging leader lived to see the near completion of Obama’s second term.
Cubans began to realize their president’s advancing age when, on June 23, 2001, he fainted while giving a speech in the sun. The public was again reminded of his frailty when he fell after giving a speech on October 20, 2004, shattering a kneecap and breaking an arm, according to the New York Times.
Castro acknowledged his mortality on a rare occasion. On March of 2003, Castro opened up about growing older while accepting a sixth term as president of Cuba’s governing body.
“I promise that I will be with you, if you so wish, for as long as I feel that I can be useful — and if it is not decided by nature before.”
In July of 2010, the revolutionary leader stunned many when he was photographed meeting with scientists at Havana Institute. Castro gave an interview on state television. Castro looked frail but mentally sharp, according to ABC News.
Months later, Castro had enough strength to deliver two outdoor speeches under Havana’s blazing sun. The first speech was on the steps of Havana University and the second in front of the capital’s former presidential palace. Tens of thousands of people attended the second speech that lasted for more than an hour. Castro joked about his weakened reputation for oratorical endurance.
“We haven’t even been here two hours … But I’m leaving now. It’s getting hot.”
By 2011, Castro was rarely seen. Castro appeared briefly at a key Communist Party Congress in April of 2011. It was here that Castro formally resigned as party leader and appeared unsteady as he was led to his seat with the help of a young aide.
World leaders react to the death of Fidel Castro https://t.co/SmLakzHrdj
— TIME (@TIME) November 26, 2016
Castro apologized in an article several days earlier for not having attended a march marking the 50th anniversary of Cuba’s victory at the Bay of Pigs invasion.
“Believe me that I felt pain when I saw that some of you were looking for me on the dais … I thought everyone understood that I can no longer do what I have done so many times before.”
After his resignation, the length of time between Fidel’s appearances grew. Fidel appeared to be older and weaker each time.
Cuba’s government never officially disclosed what Castro was suffering from when he fell ill. The mystery surrounding his health remained even when he announced in February of 2008 that he was resigning for health reasons. But it was widely reported to have been complications involving diverticulitis, an intestinal ailment common in older people. Castro’s illness was never confirmed by the Cuban government.
Castro’s physician, Dr. Eugenio Selman suggested in 2004 that Fidel could live to be 140-years-old. Dr. Selman is a specialist in longevity, according to ABC News.
“I am not exaggerating.”
News Of Fidel Castro’s Death
The news of Fidel Castro’s death brought on celebrations in Miami’s Little Havana.
— CNN (@CNN) November 26, 2016
Even Donald Trump tweeted about the event. Fidel had been in charge of Cuba since 1959. For many people, he is the only leader they have ever known, according to the website, History.
Fidel Castro is dead!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 26, 2016
“[Fidel Castro] established the first communist state in the Western Hemisphere after leading an overthrow of the military dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista in 1959.”
Fidel Castro was born on August 13, 1926, and attended Catholic schools. Castro graduated from the University of Havana with a degree in law. Castro ran for election to the Cuban House of Representatives two years later, but the elections were halted by Fulgencio Batista, according to the Daily Mail. As a result, Castro assembled a small force and attacked the Moncada army barracks in Santiago de Cuba in 1953.
The attack failed and most of Castro’s supporters were either killed or captured. Castro was also captured and subsequently sentenced to 15 years in prison. He was pardoned after just two years, according to the Daily Mail. It was during his trial that Castro delivered his famous “History will absolve me” speech.
“I warn you, I am just beginning! If there is in your hearts a vestige of love for your country, love for humanity, love for justice, listen carefully.”
“I know that the regime will try to suppress the truth by all possible means. I know that there will be a conspiracy to bury me in oblivion. But my voice will not be stifled – it will rise from my breast even when I feel most alone, and my heart will give it all the fire that callous cowards deny it.”
“Condemn me. It does not matter. History will absolve me.”
Castro’s body will be cremated, according to his wishes. According to Reuters, Cuba declared nine days of mourning. During this time, Castro’s ashes will be taken to various parts of the country. A burial ceremony will be held on December 4.
[Featured Image by Jose Jimenez/Primera Hora/Stringer/Getty Images]