Tue, Oct 23, 2012 - Page 7 News List

Castro criticizes rumors about health

GREATLY EXAGGERATED:Fidel Castro published photographs of himself outside and denied he was on his deathbed. A former Venezuelan VP confirmed he is healthy

AP, HAVANA

Former Cuban president Fidel Castro said he did not even suffer from a headache in an article he published in state media yesterday criticizing those who spread rumors he was on his death bed.

The article is accompanied by photographs taken by his son Alex Castro-Soto that show the 86-year-old revolutionary icon standing outside near some trees wearing a checked shirt and cowboy hat, including one in which he is seen reading Friday’s copy of the Communist Party newspaper Granma.

“I don’t even remember what a headache feels like,” Castro wrote, adding that he was releasing the photographs to show “how dishonest” the rumor mongers have been.

The article was published on the state-run Cubadebate Web site early yesterday. It is the latest evidence the former Cuban president is alive and seemingly well after more than a week of intense speculation he was seriously ill. Twitter and other social media sites have been abuzz with claims of Castro’s demise.

On Sunday, a visiting former Venezuelan vice president released a photograph of a meeting he said he had the previous day with Castro, and a hotel manager also present for part of the meeting claimed Castro’s health was “magnificent.”

In the article yesterday, Castro says he has been dealing with disinformation about Cuba since the Bay of Pigs invasion of 1961.

He criticized Western media he said were in the pocket of the rich, and singled out Spain’s ABC newspaper for publishing comments by a Venezuelan doctor who claimed to have information that Castro had suffered a stroke and had weeks to live.

Castro has been out of the public eye since March, when he received visiting Pope Benedict XVI. He also stopped writing his once constant opinion pieces, called “Reflections,” the last of which was published in June.

Former Venezuelan vice president Elias Jaua said he met with Castro for five hours and showed the Associated Press photographs of the encounter, quashing persistent rumors that the former Cuban leader was on his deathbed or had suffered a massive stroke.

Jaua also confirmed that Castro personally accompanied him to the Hotel Nacional after their encounter on Saturday, in which they talked about politics, history, culture and tourism.

“He had the courtesy of bringing me to the hotel,” Jaua said on Sunday, adding that Castro looked “very well.”

In the article yesterday, Castro writes that he chose to stop the opinion pieces of his own accord, not because he was too sick to continue them.

“I stopped publishing ‘Reflections’ because it was really not my role to take up pages in our press which are needed for other work the country requires,” he wrote.

Castro stepped down in 2006 following a severe illness, handing power to his brother, Cuban President Raul Castro.

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