Sunday, September 03, 2006

Cuba abuzz with talk of Castro’s recovery

The Peninsula, Qatar

Web posted at: 9/3/2006 2:32:41
Source ::: AFP

Havana • Cuba’s second glimpse of Fidel Castro since he handed power to his brother in late July has fueled speculation that he is rapidly recovering and may return to the helm and appear at the Non-Aligned Movement summit later this month.

In a video broadcast here, the Cuban leader, shown chatting in his sickbed with visiting Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, looked noticeably thinner but in good humour and more energetic than before. Pictures of the meeting at the secret location where Castro is convalescing were also published yesterday in the official newspapers Granma and Juventud Rebelde.

Cubans last saw images of Castro on August 14, the day after his 80th birthday. Prior to that, he had not been seen since before July 31, when a statement was read on his behalf over television, saying he had undergone surgery and had temporarily handed over power to his brother Raul. Judging from the latest pictures, Castro appears to have recuperated rapidly, looks animated and writes with a steady hand, despite his weight loss.

No concrete information is available on the status of Castro’s health, guarded as “a state secret” by the Communist government. “He’s like the phoenix who rises up from the ashes,” a 36-year-old Havana resident commented after seeing the latest pictures of Castro. Dressed in a dark red bathrobe, Castro visited for more than two hours with the Venezuelan president, government sources said. When Chavez entered the room, Castro was lying in bed, but he later sat at a small table, where both men wrote messages praising one another, which they later read before the cameras. “In the march towards victory, we shall prevail,” they said in unison, repeating a well-known leftist slogan.

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