Fidel Castro phones Cuban officials
- Submitted by: admin
- Politics and Government
- 12 / 16 / 2006
Ailing Cuban President Fidel Castro has spoken by telephone to a meeting of Cuban officials, the ruling Communist Party newspaper Granma said on Saturday in the first official word on the 80-year-old leader in 11 days.
Castro has not been seen in public since an undisclosed illness forced him to relinquish power to his brother in July. The last glimpse Cubans had of him was a video clip released on October 28 that showed a frail and shuffling old man.
"The Commander in Chief Fidel Castro spoke by telephone to a work session of the Provincial Assemblies of the People's Power," the newspaper said in its online edition.
Castro listened to a summary of discussions at the meeting held on Friday and got a warm round of applause, the newspaper said, giving no further details.
Castro's illness has been a tightly guarded secret since he underwent emergency surgery for intestinal bleeding that forced him to turn over the reins of power to his brother Raul Castro on July 31.
His absence from public appearances, including his delayed birthday celebrations and a military parade two weeks ago, has fuelled speculation that he is dying of cancer or is even dead.
U.S. Intelligence chief John Negroponte said in an interview with The Washington
Post published on Friday that Castro was near death and had "months, not years" to live.
Castro's closest ally, Venezuelan President Hugo, said on Friday at a rally in Caracas that he does not have cancer, but is fighting a "great battle" against a "very serious" illness.
Chavez did not say Castro's health was improving, as he has repeated in recent speeches, but said he was optimistic about his recovery after speaking to the Cuban leader by telephone.
"Some comments have come out, that Fidel has a terminal cancer -- Fidel does not have cancer," Chavez told supporters in the celebration of his December 3 re-election.
He said last week Castro had not called to congratulate him on his re-election, sending instead a typewritten letter rather than his usual handwritten letters.
Granma newspaper reported on Chavez's account of Thursday's telephone conversation between the two fierce critics of the United States, but omitted his comments on Castro's health.
Castro's illness has brought uncertainty over Cuba's political future in the Western hemisphere's only Communist state. The Bush administration opposes what it has labelled a "dynastic" succession in Cuba.
Source: Hemelhempstead Today