Doctor says Fidel Castro in "very good health"

Campaign News | Monday, 17 November 2008

Former Cuban President Fidel Castro "is in very good health" and "could return to power" if he desired, Spanish physician Jose Luis Garcia Sabrido, who treated Castro when he became ill in 2006, said in an interview published Sunday in the Argentine press.

The doctor told the Buenos Aires newspaper Perfil, however, that he did not believe that Castro, who was forced to leave power due to an unspecified intestinal illness, wanted to return to power.

The 82-year-old Fidel, who has not appeared in public since July 2006, handed over power to his younger brother, Raul, who initially served as interim president and was fully installed in office on Feb. 24.

Garcia Sabrido, citing doctor-patient confidentiality, refused to disclose the nature of Fidel Castro's illness, but he denied it was cancer and said the patient's privacy should be respected.

"Today, Fidel is doing very well, he leads a normal life and could return to power if he wanted to. He has no physical or medical impediments," the doctor said.

After noting that he had treated "more difficult" patients than Castro, Garcia Sabrido said the former Cuban president had entered "another stage in life" that was "more reflective."

"I believe he does not want to return (to power). He gave up power to a second group of officials he trusts and with whom he is very pleased," Garcia Sabrido said.

"Fidel is very inquisitive, he always asked me in detail what we were going to do, like he does with everything. It's the problem in dealing with an educated person: they ask, ask, ask, and you have to reply," the doctor said.

The Cuban government has refused to reveal Castro's illness, calling information about his condition a state secret.

Last month, Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque told Mexican television that Castro "is better, is recovering (after) dealing with a very serious illness."

Castro had a convalescence that was "long, with several surgeries, but he has been recovering and is very active from an intellectual standpoint, he reads, writes," Perez Roque told Televisa. EFE

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