Timeline Batista overthrow Bay of Pigs Secret war Missile Crisis Soviet Union Dissidents Exodus
The Miami Herald asked Cuba experts, analysts and activists to take a closer look at Castro's letter.
Castro: Mental acuity lost, found

Fidel Castro's retirement letter was intriguing in more ways than one -- admitting that he was mentally incapacitated for a time following emergency surgery in 2006 and insisting that he's not disappearing.

Sometime after his surgery, required because of intestinal bleeding never fully explained, ''I was able to recover full control of my mind, [and] read and meditated a lot,'' Castro wrote.

In previous official references to his illness, no mention was made of his mental incapacity. Castro has made no public appearances since mid-2006.

''It says he lost mental control and has now recovered it. If you read his [writings over the past 19 months] at all, that makes sense, because he says all kinds of atrocities that make no sense. . . . Now we know why,'' said Carlos Franqui, a former supporter who split from Castro in 1968.

Castro's letter takes no historical stock of his rule and instead begins by providing background on his condition after his surgery, which forced him to cede most of his titles to his brother, Defense Minister Raúl Castro.

He writes that Raúl and other government leaders ``were reluctant to consider me as separated from my duties, despite the precarious state of my health.''

After explaining that his ''first duty after so many years of struggle was to prepare our people both politically and psychologically for my absence,'' Castro announces his decision.

Consciously or not, he echoes President Lyndon B. Johnson's words from 1968: ''I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your president.'' Castro's version: ``I shall neither aspire to nor accept . . .''

Castro then makes an observation that appears aimed at Raúl's comments since he assumed power about Cuba's need to address its many and serious shortcomings: ''I distrust the seemingly easy path of apologetics or its antithesis, self-flagellation,'' he writes.

And, finally, he reminds his readers that he will still be around.

''This is not my farewell to you. My only wish is to fight as a soldier in the battle of ideas. I shall continue to write. . . . Perhaps my voice will he heard,'' he added, introducing an unusual expression of doubt for the man who has ruled Cuba for the past 49 years.

Castro then closed with this intriguing line:

``I shall be careful.''