Is the Cuban government pulling off a Weekend At Bernie's scenario with a deceased Fidel Castro in the role of Bernie? That is the rumor floating around South Florida. MSNBC has reported on this possibility but in doing so they have smeared Cuban Americans with a complete lie which WBPF-TV where they got the report eventually corrected (emphasis mine).
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Fidel Castro hasn't appeared publicly in more than two years.
The 82-year-old's time out of view has many people in South Florida wondering about the Cuban leader's health and future.
There has been a lot of speculation within the Cuban-American community about whether Castro is dead or alive.
Rumors are flying from South Florida to the nation's capital about the health of the former Cuban leader.
Castro was recently a no-show at a 50th anniversary celebration of the Cuban revolution.
Many people at Havana's Restaurant in West Palm Beach said they think Castro is dead.
"I think it's just rumors," said Cuban radio DJ Jack "DJ Flash" Gonzalez. "It's going to be a while before we figure out the real story about what happened, if Fidel Castro really died or not. But my opinion is he's been dead for at least two or three months, because no one's heard from him."
"Raul (Castro) is probably running the show," said Cuban-American Damian Oliva. "But Castro, he might be dead. They might show old pictures of him on TV, but the regime still stands."
Experts said a dead Castro could mean opened up lines of communications between the island nation and America, even with his brother in control.
"I think his brother is a little more hard-line in terms of his belief," said Northwood University professor Tim Gilbert. "But I think he's a little more pragmatic in terms of his openness to engage in relations with us."
When the news of Castro's death is made public, riots are expected in Little Havana, similar to the one when he stepped down from power.
"It's kind of sad to say that someone's dead and we're all happy about it," said Havana's owner Martha Reyes. "But he has been very cruel. He's been awful. If news like this will come in, people will be happy."
Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez has also made some cryptic comments about Castro. He has been quoted as saying the Cuban leader will likely never appear in public again, and that he will live beyond the physical life.
Um, sorry MSNBC, but as reported by Henry Louis Gomez at the Babalu Blog, there were no riots in Little Havana when it was announced that Fidel Castro stepped down from power:
...there were NO RIOTS when the chairman of castro, inc. stepped down during the summer of 2006. Not even close.
Got that, MSNBC? NO RIOTS! We pause now to allow MSNBC to do some fact-checking and issue an apology for the smear which probably WON'T be forthcoming.
Oh, and why the "Weekend at Fidel's" routine from the Cuban government if the rumors are true? Could it be that they don't want news Fidel's death to draw attention away from the Barack Obama coronation?
Note: WPBF-TV where MSNBC got this report later changed "riots" to "celebrations." When will MSNBC make the correction? Surely they must have gotten word of the fact that there were no riots by now.