The more vehement the vague assurances that Fidel Castro is recovering from his stomach surgery, the more certain we can be that Castro is at death's door and his underlings are keeping him on life support (or ice) as they jockey for position.
When it's finally safe for his successorts to announce his death, the international press will be full of laudatory obituaries for this great "revolutionary", "hero of the common man," and "champion of progress for Cuba."
Ignored or glossed over will be the staggering impoverishment, the brutal repressions of dissidents and ordinary Cubans, the foolhardy military adventures, and the corruption that have marked his decades of tyranny.
Yet, for all of his fame and fortune, he is, at heart, just another jumped-up Spanish caudillo, as Georgie Anne Geyer explains in this article.
And that, perhaps, is as much a tribute to the endurance of national character in the face of Communist ideology as anything else.
What was Soviet communism except the excesses of Czarist brutality and tyranny carried to unrestrained extremes, with collectivization a new serfdom, the nomenklatura a new nobility, and the gulags a harsher form of exile to Siberia?
What is Chinese communism except the old Empire underlaid with Marxist rhetoric?
What is North Korean juche except old Korean dynastic rule with ancient ancestor worship?
And what is Cuban communism, except the rule of the most brutal caudillo in Latin American history?