Fidel Castro is not dying, says Raul
Campaign News | Tuesday, 10 October 2006
From the International Herald Tribune newspaper
Published: October 8, 2006
HAVANA: The ailing Fidel Castro is not dying, but recovering from an illness, his younger brother and Cuba's acting president said Sunday, responding to rumors that the leader was on his deathbed.
"He is not dying like some of the press in Miami is saying," Raul Castro, who has been standing in for his brother since he stepped down July 31 to recover from intestinal surgery, told a youth congress in Havana. "He is constantly getting better."
The younger Castro said Fidel has a telephone next to him, "and he's using it more and more every day." He said he had a long working session with the leader just two days ago.
Raul Castro was responding to recent reports outside Cuba that Castro has terminal cancer. The lack of details from the Cuban government regarding the nature of Castro's illness has sparked several rumors about the leader's health.
Fidel Castro, 80, has not appeared publicly since July 26, and no new photographs of the leader have been released in three weeks, when he was last shown receiving private visits by world leaders at the Nonaligned Movement summit in mid-September.
In late September, the elder Castro did not meet with visiting Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov, whose two-day trip to Cuba marked the highest-level visit from Russia since President Vladimir Putin came to the island in 2000.
Last week local media reported that Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque told Cubans that Castro will return to his post as maximum leader, but he did not say when.
"This takes time, but he's right there," Raul Castro said Sunday. "Little by little, he's working."
The acting president presided over the closing session of a state-sponsored youth congress, which brought together 900 schoolchildren aged 6 to 12 - an age group known as "pioneers" on the communist-run island.
The children gave their support to Fidel Castro in a message published Sunday on a government-run newspaper's Web site, saying his presence was felt at the event.
"Fidel is more present than ever in the heart of every one of us, in our ideas, and in our thoughts," the message on the Communist Youth newspaper Juventud Rebelde's Web site said. "Although he is sick, he is here."
They also said they would defend the island's revolution against any assault by the U.S. government, calling U.S. President George W. Bush and his supporters "cockroaches."
"To Bush and his followers, we say stop being foolish, and that they are truly a bunch of cockroaches," they said in their message. "Don't mess with us, because the pioneers are also ready to defend the Revolution."
Other high-ranking officials such as Vice President Carlos Lage attended the congress, where the young delegates debated educational issues and their national organization.