Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Cuban officials say Castro not dying

Wed Sep 12, 2007 10:59PM BST

By Anthony Boadle

HAVANA (Reuters) - Two senior Cuban officials said on Wednesday that Cuban leader Fidel Castro, absent from public view for more than a year, is recovering from an intestinal problem that required several operations.

Cuban Culture Minister Abel Prieto said Castro was not at death's door and dismissed rumours in Miami of his demise as "wishful thinking" by exiled opponents.

Prieto said he had no inside information on Castro's medical condition, but deduced from the 81-year-old leader's regular essays and columns that he is not dying.

"Nobody who was agonizing could be doing these analyses and reflections about day-to-day reality," he told reporters. "He is aware of everything that happens, he is reading the wires, he is analyzing and evaluating."

The speaker of Cuba's National Assembly, Ricardo Alarcon, told CNN that Castro's recovery was "going well" although he had not been in touch with him personally for more than a week.

"He suffered an intestinal accident, from which he is recovering after several operations," Alarcon said on CNN.

Alarcon said Cuba was calm without Castro at the helm, while the convalescing leader had plenty of time to read and write, as evidenced by the 4,256-word essay published by the Communist Party daily Granma on Wednesday.

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