I confess that when I read that Castro was supposedly planning to relinquish the reins of power, my first thought was that there is a power struggle underway, and that he was probably dead. Investor's Business Daily, which is far better informed than I on the subject, marshgalls more evidence than occurred to me that this is exactly the case.
Castro may already be dead. If he is, Cuban officials are probably hiding it as they jockey for position. Whoever put out the statement - making Castro look all magnanimous - probably realizes it's getting harder to hide a dead body as months go by. Meantime, the letter opens the door for a power grab by the next would-be dictator seeking to succeed him.
Castro hasn't been heard from except in communiques, and he hasn't had any visitors in months. The only person who claims to be in touch with him is his protege, Venezuela's Hugo Chavez.
I particularly like this pointed observation, the meaning of which escaped me at the time:
Recall that when dead-Castro rumors spread last summer, Chavez was one of the first to insist they weren't true. But he was almost eulogistic. "For those who want him to die, they will get frustrated because Fidel Castro will never die," Chavez told a crowd in Caracas in August. "He will always live in the people of Cuba, Venezuela and the Americas." Sounds like Chavez spilling the beans.
There's more evidence mentioned, and it looks like Castro's room temperature status is something of an open secret among certain governments. Which means that a lot may be going on right now in Cuba and elsewhere, events that may change hemispheric politics.