Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Castro looking stronger in new TV images
HAVANA (Reuters) - Ailing Cuban leader Fidel Castro was shown on state television on Tuesday for the first time in three months, meeting with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in Havana.
Castro, 80, looked stronger but still frail in images of the two-hour meeting with Chavez on Monday.
The Cuban leader dropped from public view six months ago after undergoing emergency surgery for intestinal bleeding. His illness is a state secret.
Castro relinquished power for the first time since his 1959 revolution when he handed over government duties temporarily to his brother, Defense Minister Raul Castro, on July 31.
Fidel Castro was last seen on an October 28 video clip looking very frail and walking with difficulty.
Castro up and talking in new Cuban video
POSTED: 8:08 p.m. EST, January 30, 2007
HAVANA (CNN) -- Cuban television Tuesday broadcast scenes of what it said was ailing leader Fidel Castro meeting with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
The only indication of a date on the video was a copy of Saturday's edition of the Argentine newspaper Clarin, which Chavez carried.
The 80-year-old Castro, who has ruled Cuba since the 1959 communist revolution he led, ceded power to his brother Raul in late July before undergoing intestinal surgery.
Castro has not been seen in public or on video since October, and the Cuban government has maintained secrecy about his condition, giving rise to widespread speculation about his fate.
Chavez told the Cuban state television program "Roundtable" that Castro was in a good mood and looked well Monday during their meeting.
The scenes that aired Tuesday showed Castro, dressed in a track suit, talking with Chavez, a close ally. The Cuban leader was shot from the waist up and could be seen standing but not walking.
Chavez said they spent two hours discussing various topics, including "the threats of the empire" -- a reference to the United States.
Earlier this month, the Spanish newspaper El Pais quoted unnamed medical sources saying Castro was in grave condition.
A Spanish surgeon, who had visited Castro in December and works at the same hospital as the sources, dismissed the report and said Castro's current condition shows "some progressive improvement."
Cuba TV shows Castro meeting with Chavez
By ANITA SNOW Associated Press Writer
2007 The Associated Press
HAVANA — Cuban state television on Tuesday showed a video of a healthier looking Fidel Castro meeting and speaking with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, the first images of the ailing leader shown in three months.
The report said the 10-minute video clip was taped on Monday during a in a two-hour private meeting in Havana that was not previously publicized.
The newest images seemed to be aimed at knocking down the most recent round of reports about Castro's health, including a report in the Spanish newspaper El Pais earlier this month that described his health as "grave."
Both leaders appeared to take pains in the video to make clear when the session occurred. Chavez could be heard saying that it began at 3 p.m. on Jan 29. Castro read aloud a headline of an article dated Saturday from the Argentine newspaper Clarin.
Castro, who was standing, more looked alert and heavier than in previous images that had showed him much more thin and frail. Dressed in a red, white and blue track suit, the 80-year-old was also shown sitting and drinking orange juice.
"Fidel has said that we have not lost this battle," Chavez said in the video. "I'll say something more: we have won it."
The broadcast came six months after Castro's July 31 announcement that he had undergone intestinal surgery and was provisionally ceding power to his younger brother Raul. Castro had looked thinner and frailer in the last video images, which aired on Oct. 28.
Chavez said in Tuesday's video that he found his friend to be "of good humor, with a good face and in good spirits." He said the pair discussed a variety of issues, including the world's energy crisis and that Castro showed "much clarity, as always in his ideas and analysis."
Castro stunned the nation six months ago when he temporarily stepped aside for his younger brother, the 75-year-old defense minister. Since then, Raul Castro has led the nation at the head of a collaborative leadership that has kept the government running calmly in his brother's absence from public life.
Chavez said he felt "happiness, jubilation, to find Fidel as I have found him" and thanked "everyone: the relatives, comrades, doctors, nurses for the great effort they are making."