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Fidel Castro 'refused colostomy after swollen colon' - WikiLeaks

The Cuban leader needed convincing to have surgery after being diagnosed with a perforated intestine in 2006, and nearly died.

Fidel Castro, pictured in 2006: the then-President of Cuba had been close to death after refusing to undergo a colostomy procedure, a WikiLeaks document claims.
Fidel Castro, pictured in 2006: the then-President of Cuba had been close to death after refusing to undergo a colostomy procedure, a WikiLeaks document claims.
Image: AP

FIDEL CASTRO almost died after he refused to undergo surgery for a perforated intestine in 2006, it has emerged.

A diplomatic message written by Michael Parmly, the former head of United States interests in Havana, and published by WikiLeaks said that a plane on which Castro was travelling had made an emergency landing after Castro had started bleeding.

He was diagnosed as having a swollen colon (or diverticulitis) and was told he needed to undergo urgent surgery, but had steadfastly refused to undergo a colostomy procedure, Parmly wrote.

The Guardian reports that as a result, Castro’s condition had rapidly deteriorated and the leader had come close to death – and Castro only agreed to undergo the procedure after Cuban officials brought over a Spanish doctor to persuade him of the urgency of his condition.

The cable noted that Castro had thrived after finally agreeing to have the colostomy, and declined to offer any suggestion of how long the leader may still expect to live for.

Such was the strong nature of his medical turnaround that Parmly even entertained the prospect of Castro retaking power, a year after he had ‘temporarily’ stepped down and given power to his brother Raul in order to undergo the surgery.

“While he is still alive,” the cable continued, however, “his presence has a chilling and retardant effect on Cuban society”.

Other cables written from US officials in Cuba remarked that a major public uprising was unlikely if Castro was to die; the Cuban people were generally conservative in nature, one cable wrote, and the admiration for Fidel was so strong, that it would be unlikely even for a minor surge in the volume of people seeking to leave the country.

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Gavan Reilly

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