Castro dismisses rumors that he at death's door

HAVANA Mon Oct 22, 2012 5:31am EDT

1 of 2. Venezuela's former vice president Elias Jaua shows a picture of himself and former Cuban leader Fidel Castro, (3rd from L), in Havana October 21, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Desmond Boylan

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HAVANA (Reuters) - Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro dismissed reports that he was dead or near death in an article published on Monday in Cuba's state-run press.

He accused news agencies and enemies of Cuba of spreading "stupidities" about him, particularly a report from a Spanish newspaper last week that said he had suffered a massive stroke and was in a vegetative state.

"Birds of bad omen! I don't even remember what a headache is," he wrote.

The article in Communist Party newspaper Granma was accompanied by photographs showing him walking outside on a sunny day on what appeared to be a farm.

He wore a straw hat and red plaid shirt, used a walking cane and, in one photo, held a copy of Granma from Friday.

The photos, Castro said, were "proof of what liars they are."

Social media has been alight in recent weeks with rumors about Castro, who is 86 and has been in declining health for several years.

He ruled Cuba for 49 years before resigning in 2008, citing age and infirmity. Younger brother Raul Castro succeeded him as president.

On blogs and Twitter, he has been declared dead or near dead numerous times, spurred by a long, unexplained absence from the public eye.

Elias Jaua, a former Venezuelan vice president, said on Sunday he had met with the Cuban revolutionary leader over the weekend, showing reporters pictures of the meeting and saying Castro was in good health and lucid.

Castro had not written one of his "Reflections" opinion columns for state press since June 19 or been seen publicly since March.

His last few Reflections were also Twitter-like in their brevity and slightly oddball in content, which left Cubans wondering about their former leader's mental state.

But Castro said he had decided to stop the columns for a practical reason.

"I stopped publishing Reflections because surely it is not my role to occupy the pages of our press, dedicated to other work the country requires," he said.

As for how he spends his time now, Castro wrote, "I like to write and I write. I like to study and I study."

Castro also used the article to defend his role in the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, which 50 years ago this month brought the world to the brink of nuclear war when the United States discovered that the Soviet Union had placed nuclear missiles in Cuba.

Castro said Cuba viewed the missiles as necessary to stopping a U.S. invasion of the island 90 miles from Florida and had no regrets about its decision.

"Our conduct was ethically irreproachable. We will never apologize to anyone for what we did," he said.

(Reporting by Jeff Franks; editing by Patrick Graham)

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Comments (4)
victor672 wrote:
When will Barry Soetoro Obama be making his pilgrimage and asking for an audience and blessing?

Oct 21, 2012 10:25pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
McBob08 wrote:
Reuters; why are you trying to fuel speculation that Castro is dead?

Oct 21, 2012 10:32pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
DeanMJackson wrote:
In fact, Fidel Castro died six years ago, otherwise we’d have seen him too, but on Television. That’s obvious!
The death of Fidel Castro will be revealed soon, after which the Communist government in Havana will fake its collapse, as did the USSR in 1991 and the Chinese Communist government will in several years or so.

This strategy is called the “Long-Range Policy”. For more on the “Long-Range Policy” read KGB defector Major Anatoliy Golitsyn’s 1984 book, “New Lies for Old” (available at Internet Archive), the only Soviet era defector to still be under protective custody in the West. What does that tell you about the “collapse” of the USSR in late 1991?

Oct 21, 2012 11:02pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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