The Castro Syndrome

Last night, when I was half asleep during my well-deserved vacation, I got a call from my elderly mother in Florida. She was having an anxiety attack after hearing that Fidel Castro had taken ill and was transferring his dictatorial power to his younger brother. My poor mother was hyperventilating, but after calming her down, I was able to appreciate how this news made an old woman so excited. She said, “I only wish your father were alive to hear of such news.”

After all, my Pop had been in a concentration camp for many years before being able to legally leave Cuba with my mother and a younger sister. Several years prior, he had to send me to an orphanage in Spain for fear that the Cuban army would recruit me at the age of 13 — which was typically when they started to indoctrinate children in their anti-American propaganda. My Pop did not want that for his kids — my sister or me — so we became refugees, a broken up family. But as my father would say, he would rather be a refugee in America than a slave in Cuba.

Yes, the "Castro Syndrome" is a malady that afflicts millions of Cuban American families. Symptoms include a rapid heart rate, hyperventilation, loss of sleep and an overwhelming sense of peace. This syndrome is brought on by news that:

• Fidel Castro would cease to have control of Cuba.

• The Cuban people could live in a genuine democracy.

• There would be peace and happiness, where Cuban citizens could enjoy the simple principles that the American forefathers cemented in our American culture.

The world has experienced similar syndromes — the Hitler Syndrome or more recently Hussein's Disease, all of them unique but caused by the same type of bug, one that dehumanizes the individual and strips them of their civil rights and their future. It's a tough critter to eradicate. But, medicine is one of those areas where the general thinking is that there's a cure for everything. It only takes time and constant perseverance.

Over the next couple of weeks, I will be monitoring the events in Cuba and will try to keep you all abreast of what will happen on my small island. In the meantime, I will give my mother a dose of one of the best medicines I know — faith in God, knowing that everything will be all right.

Don't forget to watch FOX News Channel. And please feel free to write to Dr. Manny at DRMANNY@FOXNEWS.COM and tell him what you think. Ask a question, share a thought, share a remedy — We'll try to answer all of your mail online or on the air.

Dr. Manny Alvarez serves as Fox News Channel's senior managing health editor. He also serves as chairman of the department of obstetrics/gynecology and reproductive science at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. For more information on Dr. Manny's work, visit