Sun, Mar 01, 2009 - Page 7 News List

Castro ‘really well,’ Chavez says

AFP , CARACAS

Former Cuban president Fidel Castro, who has not been seen in public since undergoing surgery in 2006, went on a walkabout in Havana, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said on Friday after a visit to Cuba.

If confirmed, the walkabout — for which Chavez gave no date — would be the ailing Castro’s first appearance in public since taking seriously ill in July 2006.

The former president, now 82 and still the Cuban Communist party leader, has been replaced as president by his brother, Raul Castro, 77.

“Fidel Castro, whom a lot of people have been saying is in his dying days, Fidel surprised all of us, and you know what he did? He went for a walk. Fidel went out,” said Chavez, Castro’s closest political ally in Latin America.

“And he was being seen. But this is Fidel, walking around Havana! A miracle. People were weeping,” he added at a public appearance in Caracas.

Chavez maintained that “of course, he planned it all so there would be no record of anything. There are a few photos, which I have seen. I consider myself a humble and fortunate person in that regard.”

Chavez said Castro sent him four letters on Thursday and in one of them told him about his walkabout, from the undisclosed location in Havana where he is still recovering from his illness.

“He told me in one [of these letters] he went somewhere quite far away. This is like a miracle,” Chavez said.

Official media in Havana have not reported the story.

Earlier Chavez said Castro was “really, really well,” seemingly at his best since Castro he took ill.

Castro was “much better than all the times I have visited him in the past three years,” Chavez told state television.

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