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Fidel is back.... but what does that really mean?

Now there are no doubts. Fidel did not die, and it seems he is not planning to do so any time soon.

The fact remains that all the short-term predictions made by John Negroponte on behalf of U.S. intelligence agencies and the many predictions made by Cuban-American sources in and around Miami, proved to be absolutely wrong.

So is Fidel making a comeback? And if so, what happens now?

Anyone knowledgeable of how Cuba's power structure and how Fidel's personality works, knows perfectly well that he is not making a comeback for one simple reason: he was never away, separated nor excluded from the key decisions and policy actions undertaken since July 31. Some may disagree with this assertion and are now discussing if there is a comeback and what if.

Of course, Fidel Castro will not be, cannot be, the kind of leader he was before, personally supervising everything and everyone, from macro policy issues to minor issues, moving across the entire island. This Fidel is not there anymore.

But he is there, supervising, calling on other Politburo and cabinet officials, checking on, warning, adopting key decisions, being informed constantly.

All of this, as well as key decisions, are now taken together with his brother Raul closer than ever. This is what I have termed a "shared interim," meaning a power-sharing formula in which Fidel Castro plays a lesser, and inevitably, declining role, yet remaining very influential on major decisions for several years to come.

At the same time, Raul's leadership continues to expand, growing stronger and more decisive. He brings in his renown style of collective and team leadership, with the latter being reinforced by growing numbers of middle-aged and younger figures.

Raul will play a decisive role in shaping what will be the crucial issue: What comes after the brothers are gone? It is here where he will make his most important contribution along with fully implemented, and expanding, reforms of which perfeccionamiento especial is just the tip of the iceberg.

Most people, including the political class at large, will tend to buy into this perspective as an inevitable outcome of having such an extraordinary leader as Fidel Castro, with all of his good and bad attributes.

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Title Annotation:Fidel Castro
Author:Amuchastegui, Domingo
Geographic Code:5CUBA
Date:May 1, 2007
Previous Article:Despite recovery, don't expect Castro to return to power.
Next Article:Treasury: U.S. phone carriers paid Cuba $102m in 2006.

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