Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz has reportedly suffered a stroke and new reports suggest that the 86-year-old is in critical condition.
Jose Marquina, who is said to be "a respected doctor" in Venezuela, claims that formerly feared dictator is now in a vegetative state as a result of the alleged stroke. He reportedly has difficulty speaking, eating, and Marquina claims that the former Cuban politician can no longer recognize anyone, according to Miami newspaper El Nuevo Herald.
"[Castro] could last weeks like that, but what I can say is that we'll never again see him in public," Marquina reportedly told The Herald.
Castro, who was last seen publicly in March, is said to be receiving constant medical care, although various reports have speculated that he may in fact be close to death- this news comes contrary to assurances made by various relatives, who insist that he is not dying.
Juanita, who is Castro's sister, blasted reports claiming Castro is in poor health , telling the Associated Press that the reports are "pure rumors" and "absurd." Castro's son Alex recently insisted that his father "is well, going about his daily life," according to a Cuban newspaper.
Marquina maintains that Castro suffered a "massive embolism of the right cerebral artery" and said that he is "moribund" at a home in western Havana, according to Spain's ABC newspaper.
Castro became a controversial and highly divisive world figure after seizing power of Cuba in 1959, ultimately becoming the 16th Prime Minister of Cuba. He eventually left office in 2006 due to ill health and he was later succeeded by his brother Raul, 81.
Fans flocked to social networking site Twitter, where many offered the former leader their well wishes.
"Wishing you a speedy recovery. Get well soon #Castro," Aiyanna tweeted.
"Oh no! Did Castro really have a stroke?? I heard he's dying. Sending prayers his way," Claude tweeted.
"Feel better soon! We are rooting for you Fidel Castro!! Prayers to the family," Maria tweeted.