Castro's Cubaby Nikki Tundel, Minnesota Public Radio
A few weeks ago, thousands of Cuban-Americans celebrated news that Cuban President Fidel Castro was in the hospital. They eagerly awaited word of his death and the regime change they hoped would follow. But it seems they broke out the cigars a little prematurely.
St. Paul, Minn. — About a million people fled Cuba when Fidel Castro took control in 1959. Since then, many of these exiles have been dreaming of the day his socialist rule comes to an end.
Castro has survived a trade embargo, his country's economic struggles and hundreds of assassination attempts by the CIA to become the world's longest-ruling head of government.
At this point, most are convinced the only thing that can remove Fidel from power is his death. So, as the Cuban president underwent surgery at the end of July, crowds of Cuban-Americans celebrated, hoping he wouldn't pull through.
The U.S. government was on the edge of its seat, too. American politicians have long wanted to see Cuba become a democracy -- and a place to sell American products. And many believe Castro's death will trigger reform in Cuba.
Of course, three weeks after being hospitalized, Fidel is still alive and kickin'. And it's business as usual on the island nation.
Political scientist David Samuels, a professor at the University of Minnesota, says, even if Castro had died, it's presumptuous to assume the 47-year-old regime would just crumble in his absence.