Castro recovering following surgery: Cuban officials

Sunday, August 6, 2006

Fidel Castro's condition is "satisfactory" following surgery last Monday for intestinal bleeding according to Cuban vice-premier Carlos Lage and Cuba's health minister José Ramón Balaguer who adds that it will not be long before the Cuban leader returns to work. On Saturday, Cuban parliamentary speaker Ricardo Alcaron told CNN's Spanish service that Castro "remains in stable condition" and is "resting in order to recover as quickly as possible".

Lage, who is in Bolivia for the opening of that country's constitutional convention, said that Castro sends the Bolivian people "fraternal greetings" according to Cuban press agency Prensa Latina. Lage denied reports that Castro has stomach cancer and said that the ailing leader had "been made well by the operation and is recuperating favourably."

Venezualan president Hugo Chavez sent his good wishes during his weekly broadcast saying "Fidel Castro, a hug for you, friend and comrade and I know you are getting better."

"We have reliable information of your quick and notable recuperation" said Chavez on Castro's condition. In a telephone conversation with Bolivian leader Eva Morales later in the broadcast, Chavez said of the Cuban leader "this morning I learned that he's very well, that he is already getting out of bed, he's talking more than he should — because he talks a lot, you know. He has sent us greetings,"

Castro, who turns 80 later this month, temporarily transferred power to his 75 year-old brother, Raul Castro, prior to his surgery, leading to widespread speculation in the United States that he is dying or dead.

No pictures of Castro have been released since his surgery was announced last Monday fuelling speculation around the world about his condition. Acting Cuban leader Raul Castro has also not been seen in public in the past week.

The island's government has increased security due to fears of a US attack during Castro's illness. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told NBC News "The notion that somehow the United States is going to invade Cuba, because there are troubles in Cuba, is simply far-fetched"

Until temporarily relinquishing power to his brother last week, Fidel Castro had led the country since the 1959 Cuban Revolution.