US embassy cable - 94HAVANA3027

CASTRO'S HEALTH RUMORS -- FURTHER RUMINATIONS

Identifier: 94HAVANA3027
Wikileaks: View 94HAVANA3027 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: US Interests Section Havana
Created: 1994-05-12 19:29:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PGOV CU
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
R 121929Z MAY 94
FM USINT HAVANA
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 9782
INFO AMEMBASSY MADRID
AMEMBASSY CARACAS
JTLO MIAMI
USIA WASHDC 7723
AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
AMEMBASSY MEXICO
COMNAVBASE GUANTANAMO BAY
C O N F I D E N T I A L HAVANA 003027 
 
 
FOR ARA/CCA -- DENNIS HAYS 
 
E.O. 12356:      OADR:DECL 
TAGS:      PGOV, CU 
SUBJECT:   CASTRO'S HEALTH RUMORS -- FURTHER RUMINATIONS 
 
1.  CONFIDENTLAL -- ENTIRE TEXT. 
 
2.  FIDEL CASTRO'S RECENT TRIPS TO BARBADOS AND SOUTH 
AFRICA, AS WELL AS HIS APPEARANCES DURING THE NATIONAL 
ASSEMBLY AND THE DIALOGUE WITH THE EXILE COMMUNITY, BOTH 
OF WHICH WERE TELEVISED, GIVE THE LIE TO RUMORS THAT HE 
IS SUFFERING FROM SOME GRAVE ILLNESS.  NEVERTHELESS, 
RUMORS DO PERSIST THAT HE HAD A MILD CEREBRAL ISCHEMIA. 
ACTIVIST VLADIMIRO ROCA TOLD USINT RECENTLY THAT HE 
BELIEVES THE RUMORS THAT CIRCULATED HERE AROUND 
MID-APRIL WERE NOTHING MORE THAN A DELAYED REACTION TO A 
LEAK IN LATE MARCH- EARLY APRIL THAT CASTRO HAD AN 
ISCHEMIA.  ACCORDING TO ROCA, ISCHEMIAS CAN BE TREATED 
WITH MEDICATION AND BEDREST, WHICH, IN ROCA'S VIEW, 
WOULD EXPLAIN CASTRO'S ABSENCE FROM PUBLIC LIFE FOR 
THREE WEEKS DURING THAT TIME FRAME. 
 
3.  RMO DWIGHT BABCOCK TOLD US DURING HIS MAY 11 VISIT 
HERE THAT ISCHEMIAS ARE CAUSED BY LACK OF BLOOD FLOW 
(AND THEREFORE LACK OF OXYGEN) TO A PARTICULAR AREA, 
USUALLY THE BRAIN, HEART OR LEGS.  A CEREBRAL ISHEMIA IS 
CAUSED BY AN OBSTRUCTION AT THE CAROTID JUNCTION AND CAN 
LEAD TO MICROINFARCTS, SMALL AREAS OF DEAD OR DYING 
BRAIN TISSUE CAUSED BY THE LACK OF BLOOD FLOW.  IF 
UNTREATED, THIS CAN LEAD TO VARYING DEGREES OF SENILITY. 
 
4.  TREATMENT CAN BE TO EITHER REMOVE THE OBSTRUCTION IN 
A SIMPLE OPERATION AT THE BASE OF THE NECK OR BY USING 
ANTICOAGULANTS.  DR. BABCOCK NOTED THAT 95 PERCENT OF 
THE PATIENTS WHO HAVE THE ANTICOAGULANT TREATMENT HAVE 
NO PROBLEM, THOUGH 5 PERCENT DO RUN THE RISK OF HAVING A 
STROKE.  THE OPERATION ALSO IS NOT THAT DIFFICULT AND 
WOULD REQUIRE ONLY 3-5 DAYS HOSPITALIZATION.  IN BOTH 
CASES, THE PATIENT WOULD BE ADVISED TO REST 10-30 DAYS 
DURING TREATMENT, THOUGH HE WOULD STILL BE ABLE TO CARRY 
OUT SIMPLE ACTIVITIES.  AN OPERATION WOULD LEAVE A SMALL 
ONE-AND-HALF INCH SCAR, BUT ONE WHICH COULD EASILY BE 
COVERED BY A HIGH COLLAR OR MAKEUP. 
 
5.  BABCOCK NOTED THAT EVEN THOUGH THE ISCHEMIA IS 
SUCCESSFULLY TREATED, THERE IS A VERY HIGH PROBABILITY 
THAT WITHIN 2-3 YEARS THE PATIENT COULD HAVE ANOTHER 
ISCHEMIA IN THE SAME AREA.  MOREOVER, THE PATIENT IS 
ALSO AT HIGH RISK FOR DEVELOPING ISCHEMIAS IN OTHER 
PARTS OF THE BODY (LIKE THE LEG OR HEART).  HOWEVER, 
WITH PROPER TREATMENT (ASPIRIN AND OTHER 
ANTICOAGULANTS), THE PATIENT COULD LIVE SEVERAL MORE 
YEARS -- THE RMO DID NOT WANT TO EVEN HAZARD A GUESS AT 
POSSIBLE LIFE EXPECTANCY. 
 
6.  A FOOTNOTE:  P/E OFF FINALLY SPOKE WITH ACTIVIST 
AIDA VALDES MAY 10 REGARDING HER SOURCE WHO TOLD HER ON 
APRIL 19 THAT CASTRO WAS SERIOUSLY ILL AND BEING TREATED 
IN AN INTENSIVE CARE ROOM SET UP AT THE CENTRAL 
COMMITTEE.  SHE SAID THAT HER SOURCE, CRISTOBAL FAJARDO, 
HAD BEEN RELIABLE IN THE PAST, BUT SHE HAS BEEN UNABLE 
TO TALK TO HIM ABOUT THE RUMOR BECAUSE HE WAS ARRESTED 
SHORTLY AFTER THE RUMORS STARTED CIRCULATING.  VALDES 
SAID THAT FAJARDO HAS BEEN HELD VIRTUALLY INCOMMUNICADO 
AT VILLA MARISTAS FOR THREE WEEKS.  (SHE SAID THAT 
FAJARDO WORKS WITH THE CENTRAL COMMITTEE, BUT WE HAVE 
NOT BEEN ABLE TO FIND ANY LISTING FOR HIM IN OUR 
RECORDS.) 
 
7.  COMMENT:  IT IS VERY POSSIBLE THAT CASTRO SUFFERED 
SOME MILD ISCHEMIA IN LATE MARCH.  RUMORS ABOUT THE 
ISCHEMIA MESH WITH ANOTHER RUMOR USINT PRINCIPAL OFFICER 
HAD HEARD FROM A EUROPEAN AMBASSADOR THAT CASTRO HAD HAD 
A SMALL OPERATION AT THE BASE OF THE NECK, QUITE 
PROBABLY TO REMOVE THE OBSTRUCTION.  ANOTHER PART OF 
THIS RUMOR (HAVANA 2693) WAS THAT CASTRO'S SENSE OF 
BALANCE HAD BEEN AFFECTED, A COMMENT CONSISTENT WITH THE 
SLOW, CAREFUL STEPS BY CASTRO AT THE APRIL 25 AIRPORT 
ARRIVAL CEREMONY FOR THE VISITING ZAMBIAN PRESI 
DENT. 
 
CASTRO DID LOOK TIRED DURING HIS PUBLIC APPEARANCES HERE 
IN MID- AND LATE APRIL, THOUGH HE SEEMS TO HAVE 
REBOUNDED WELL FOR HIS EXHAUSTING TRIP TO SOUTH AFRICA. 
WE HAVE TO WAIT TO SEE IF THE RIGORS OF HIS TRAVELS 
AFFECT HIM AFTER HIS RETURN TO CUBA.  END COMMENT. 
 
SULLIVAN 

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