Fidel Castro's relatives in Cuba and Miami denied the latest round of rumours about the 86-year-old former president's supposedly declining health, after his prolonged public silence set the Twitterverse aflame with speculation in recent days.
"The Comandante is well, going about his daily life, reading, doing his exercises," son Alex Castro was quoted as saying by Arlin Alberty Loforte, a reporter for the Venceremos weekly newspaper in the eastern city of Guantanamo.
The exchange came at an exhibition of portraits that the younger Castro, a photographer, has taken of his father since 2010. It appeared on Alberty's website yesterday, was reposted by a prominent pro-government blogger known as Yohandry Fontana and state news agency AIN also reported Alex Castro's comments without directly quoting him.
Later yesterday, sister Juanita Castro discounted versions that she was travelling from her Florida home back to Cuba to be with family. "I have no news," she said. "I have no plans to travel. That's not true. These are pure rumors, it's all absurd."
Speculation about Fidel Castro's purported decline, which
seems to surface every few months, became grist for the rumour
mill again this week when he did not publicly congratulate
ally Hugo Chavez on winning re-election in a hard-fought
Venezuelan presidential race.
"Does anybody know if (hash)FidelCastro has sent
congratulations to (hash)HugoChavez?" dissident blogger Yoani
Sanchez tweeted earlier this week. "Because some silences are
Castro has not been seen in public since video images
showed him greeting a visiting Pope Benedict XVI in late
March, and the last of his essays known as "Reflections" was
published June 19.
Of late, those had taken on a brief, esoteric nature that
left Cubans and analysts alike scratching their heads, and
exiles in Miami speculating about his grasp on reality.
Castro has been mostly out of sight since he left office
in 2006 due to a life-threatening intestinal condition. His
health and location are secret, and at times the only word on
how he's doing comes in rosy assessments from his close friend
On Oct 4, Chavez told reporters Castro had been in touch
to remark on TV coverage he'd seen earlier of a massive
campaign rally in Caracas.
"Fidel sent a message, Fidel says from Havana that he has
never seen anything like what he saw here today under the
rain. ... Thank you Fidel," Chavez said, "for your message and
for the many messages that have arrived." (AP)
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