They are basing it off a source in US intelligence and the Cuban government has denied it completely. But it would certainly fit with many of the oddities of Castro's sudden, secret medical treatment and his complete absence from public life since then.
Ever since President Fidel Castro was sidelined for what was said to be abdominal surgery last July, Cuban officials have maintained that the country's leader will return to his post. ''We will again have him leading the revolution,'' said Foreign Minister Felipe Pérez Roque just two days ago, speaking at an outdoor rally to protest the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba, according to the Communist Party daily newspaper Granma.
But U.S. officials tell TIME that many in the U.S. government are now convinced that Castro, 80, has terminal cancer and will never return to power. "Certainly we have heard this, that this guy has terminal cancer," said one U.S. official.
Of course, such intelligence reports could be wrong, and one official cautioned that definitive proof is nearly impossible for the U.S. to come by. Yet the fact that the Cuban government removed Castro from the public stage before his death could suggest that Castro and his would-be successors were aware of a terminal condition and wanted to gauge public reaction to his absence. "They got to see how people would react," says one U.S. official. "They have had a chance to see how things might work without out him functioning day-to-day."
That would explain the way this has been handled by the Cuban government. Castro has been gone from sight for an awfully long time at this point.