Spanish doctor confirms that Fidel does not have cancer

Campaign News | Tuesday, 26 December 2006

Expert says Cuban leader is recovering slowly

MADRID, Spain: A Spanish surgeon who is helping treat Fidel Castro said Tuesday the Cuban leader does not have cancer and is recovering slowly from a serious operation.

"He hasn't got cancer" said Jose Luis Garcia Sabrido, chief surgeon at Madrid's Gregorio Maranon Hospital. Garcia Sabrido flew to Havana on Thursday to see Castro and give his opinion on how his treatment was progressing.

"It is not planned that he will undergo another operation for the moment," he said. "His condition is stable. He is recovering from a very serious operation."

He also said that he was amazed at Castro's good spirits. "He wants to return to work everyday," he said.

Castro, 80, has not appeared in public since undergoing emergency intestinal surgery in July, but has since released little information on his condition. Castro placed his younger brother, Raul, in charge of the government.

Fidel to recover but not return to govern, US congressman say

Delahunt says that administration of government has definitively passed on

Cuban officials told lawmakers from the United States House of Representatives visiting Havana yesterday that President Fidel Castro did not have cancer or any terminal illness and that he would be making a public appearance shortly, according to Rep. William Delahunt, one of the legislators.

But Mr. Delahunt, Democrat of Massachusetts, said he concluded from the delegation’s discussions with senior Cuban officials and diplomats that Mr. Castro would not return to running Cuba on a day-to-day basis.

Mr. Delahunt said he understood that government administration had been definitively passed to Mr. Castro’s brother, Raúl. “The Cubans were emphatic, and I believe them, that Fidel does not have cancer, and that the illness he does have is not terminal,” Mr. Delahunt said in a telephone interview last night after he returned to Washington.

He said Cuban officials assured the delegation that Mr. Castro was planning to re-emerge shortly. Mr. Castro, 80, who has controlled Cuba since he took power after a revolution in 1959, has not been seen in public since July 26, and Cuba has guarded the details of his medical condition as a state secret. Cuban officials announced that he underwent intestinal surgery in late July. He did not appear at celebrations of his 80th birthday earlier this month, prompting a new rush of rumors that he had died.

If Mr. Castro re-appears, “this will not be Fidel sitting at his desk,” Mr. Delahunt said. “This will be Fidel Castro is alive and recovering.” He said he anticipated that if Mr. Castro did resume a political role, it would be setting broad policy. “The functioning of the government, that transition has already occurred,” he said.

The bipartisan delegation of 10 representatives, which Mr. Delahunt described as the largest Congressional delegation to visit Cuba during Mr. Castro’s rule, arrived Friday and spent 48 hours in Havana. It was led by Mr. Delahunt and Rep. Jeff Flake, Republican of Arizona, the leaders of the Cuba Working Group in the House.

The lawmakers met with the foreign minister, Felipe Pérez Roque, the National Assembly president, Ricardo Alarcón, and Yadira García, an economic minister, among others.

They did not have any contact with Mr. Castro or meet with Raúl Castro. The Communist Party newspaper reported Saturday that Fidel Castro had telephoned several Cuban lawmakers on Friday. He has also spoken recently to President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, Mr. Chávez has said.

The Cuban officials did not disclose what illness Mr. Castro had, but they insisted he was recovering, and said he had avoided public appearances to hasten his recuperation, Mr. Delahunt said. Mr. Castro passed his political authority to his brother before his surgery.

“It seems that the Cuban government may not be ready to say that a new era has begun,” Mr. Flake said when asked why Raúl Castro had not met with the lawmakers, The Associated Press reported from Havana.

Cuba: Fidel does not have cancer

Fidel Castro does not have cancer or a terminal illness and will eventually return to public life, Cuban officials told visiting US politicians.

It is the Communist government’s most comprehensive denial of rumours about its ailing leader’s health.

US Rep Jeff Flake, an Arizona Republican, said all the Cuban officials they spoke to during the three-day trip that ended yesterday told them the 80-year-old leader’s illness “is not cancer, nor is it terminal, and he will be back”.

Cuba’s acting president Raul Castro did not meet the 10-member US delegation and politicians said his absence was evidence of the political uncertainty created by Cuba’s insistence that his brother Fidel will return to power.

“The party line is that Fidel is coming back, which ? creates a sort of vacuum,” said Rep Jane Harmon of California.

US officials believe Fidel Castro suffers from some kind of inoperable cancer and will not live through the end of 2007. Some US doctors have speculated he could have a colon condition called diverticulosis, which is relatively common among older people.

Castro has not been seen since July 26, five days before he temporarily ceded power to his younger brother to recover from surgery from intestinal bleeding. His failure to show up at his own delayed birthday celebrations earlier this month sparked rumours that he was on his deathbed.

Vice President Carlos Lage has previously dismissed reports that the leader was suffering from stomach cancer, but officials had not publicly denied rumours that he could have another type of cancer or some other terminal illness.

Venezuela's Chavez denies Fidel dying of cancer

Pair are working on new agreements between two countries

CARACAS, Venezuela: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez denied Friday that Fidel Castro has cancer and said the ailing Cuban leader is eating cautiously and feels well enough to joke.

Castro's medical condition is being kept a state secret, and Cuban officials insisted he is recovering. But U.S. officials say they believe he suffers from some kind of inoperable cancer and will not live through the end of 2007.

"Fidel does not have cancer. I'm very well-informed ... he has instructed them to inform me of all the details of what is happening," Chavez said during a speech in Caracas.

Castro, 80, has not been seen publicly since July, when he temporarily handed power over to his younger brother Raul so he could recover from intestinal surgery.

Chavez reiterated previous comments that the recuperation is going slowly and that Castro is fighting "a great battle" for his health after suffering what he described as a "serious illness."

Nobody knows when Fidel is going to die," Chavez said.

"We are very optimist. Yesterday, I found him to be in a very good mood, well enough to compare my parrots to (U.S. President George) Bush," Chavez continued, describing how Castro had told him the pet birds were more talkative than their "northern neighbor."

Chavez said Castro "is eating little by little" and that he planned to send him one of his favorite treats, Venezuelan chocolate.

Chavez did not give any further details on Castro's health, but said they had spoken twice on Thursday and discussed a series of new projects between Venezuela and Cuba, including plans to jointly explore for oil.

Chavez said Castro's government would soon be giving a license to Venezuela's state oil company allowing it to explore for oil in Cuban waters in the Gulf of Mexico.

He added that Cuba's Cupep would help explore for oil in Venezuela's oil-rich Orinoco River region, joining a host of other state oil companies from friendly allies like Iran, China, Russia and Spain.

Chavez said he and Castro discussed other projects, including a wood company, a pharmaceutical factory and a company to exploit Cuban nickel and Venezuela iron.

"We have so many things to thank Fidel for," said Chavez, describing how Castro had surprised him with a phone call in the afternoon before he called him back later in the evening to discuss the left-leaning trade bloc their two countries founded, known as ALBA.

"ALBA is going to grow," Chavez continued, saying that Nicaraguan President-elect Daniel Ortega, leader of the country's leftist Sandinista party, told him last weekend that Nicaragua planned to join the bloc comprising Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia.

ALBA rejects U.S.-backed free trade and promises a socialist version of regional commerce and cooperation.

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