This is an installment from our on-going series on the adventures of American diplomats and the people they monitor. The button below will take you to another random episode.
The Cuban regime reacts to the death of Vilma Espin, wife of acting Cuban dictator Raul Castro.
FROM: HAVANA, CUBA
TO: STATE DEPARTMENT
DATE: JUNE 19, 2007
SEE FULL CABLE
¶2. (C) Espin has been terminally ill for the past two years
and out of public view. Her death serves as a dry run for
the other much-more-anticipated deaths in the ruling family,
in terms of logistics and choreographed funeral activities.
Havana has some roads closed off on June 19, most likely in
areas through which the funeral procession will pass.
Remembrance activities have been scheduled in various
provinces around the country, along with a full-scale
propaganda barrage. The message beamed out to Cuba and the
world is that Vilma Espin was a heroic and loyal follower of
Fidel Castro and the revolution, and only secondarily Raul
Castro's wife and member of the ruling family.
Browse the Cablegate Chronicle archive.
-------- ¶3. (C) Although we doubt Fidel Castro cares very much about the loss of Vilma Espin, or much else beyond his own personal legacy, we expect that her death will have a significant impact on Raul Castro. Yes, both Fidel and Raul Castro are mass murderers and cruel leaders, but Raul always has had a parallel reputation as a family man. He and Vilma Espin were, much more than Fidel and any of his partners, the ones concerned about the Castro family as a family. Some reporting from when Fidel Castro became incapacitated last July indicated that Raul Castro suffered from depression, caused by the parallel terminal illnesses of his brother and wife, and much more the latter than the former. For long stretches of time he stayed completely out of public view. Raul Castro and Vilma Espin were reported to have been estranged over the years, but not entirely. Raul Castro could lose his bearings over Espin's death, and return to that same kind of private detachment, leaving Cuba even more leaderless than has been the case during the past few months as Fidel Castro has become more and more active.