August 26, 2007 / 1:55 PM / in 12 years

Cuba publishes Castro column amid health rumors

HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuba published on Sunday a historical essay by ailing leader Fidel Castro, whose long absence from public view has fueled speculation about his health among Cuban exiles in Miami.

Cuba's leader Fidel Castro speaks during an interview on state television in Havana June 5, 2007. Cuba published on Sunday a historical essay by ailing leader Fidel Castro, whose long absence from public view has fueled speculation about his health among Cuban exiles in Miami. REUTERS/Government TV/Handout

Castro, who turned 81 on August 13, has not appeared in public since undergoing intestinal surgery in July last year when he handed over power to his brother Raul Castro.

Cuban officials and ally Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez repeatedly insisted last week that Fidel Castro continued to recover, was writing and participating in major decisions of state.

Speculation Castro’s health had taken a turn for the worse mounted in Miami on Friday when local television stations began broadcasting rumors he had died.

Castro was last seen by Cubans in a television interview broadcast by Cuban television on June 5, but has continued to publish twice weekly “reflections of the Commander” attributed to him.

“Fidel is fine and is very disciplined about his recovery,” Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque told reporters during a meeting of Latin American and Asian officials in Brazil’s capital, Brasilia on Thursday.

Castro’s Sunday column, a long essay on politics in Cuba prior to his 1959 revolution, was printed by the Communist Youth newspaper Juventud Rebelde (Rebel Youth).

Cuba last week marked the 100th anniversary of the birth of Orthodox Party President Eduardo Rene Chibas, considered by Castro and many young Cubans at the time as the best hope of stemming growing corruption in the Cuban government.

Chibas committed suicide during a radio address in 1951 and the following year Fulgencio Batista staged a coup, which Castro said on Sunday would not have been possible if Chivas had been alive.

After the coup Castro and other young members of the Cuban Orthodox Party turned to armed rebellion.

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