Despite widespread reports last week that Fidel Castro had suffered a stroke and was in a “neurovegetative state,” Cuba’s former leader has supposedly penned an editorial in a Cuban newspaper to prove he is indeed alive and kicking. An article published under his name was posted on the state-run website Cubadebate early Monday.
The article is featured alongside photographs of the 86-year-old Castro walking in a garden and reading a copy of Friday’s edition of the country’s official Communist Party newspaper, Granma.
“I don’t even remember what a headache is,” Castro writes in the post. He says those who claim he is dead are “liars” from news-media groups that are “almost all in the hands of the privileged and rich.”
Castro specifically condemned a story by Spanish newspaper ABC that reported that Castro suffered a stroke and was on the verge of death. In the accompanying photos, taken by his son Alex Castro, the former President and Prime Minister seems gaunt and walks with a cane but appears very much alive. Even the headline, “Fidel Castro Is Dying,” seems to call up an ironic slant to the article.
Reports of Castro’s death were sparked by his uncharacteristic absence from the public sphere. He was last seen publicly in March, CNN notes, when he met with Pope Benedict XVI in Cuba. The newspaper columns and letters Castro often published ceased in June, and he did not make an announcement after his close ally Hugo Chávez was re-elected as President of Venezuela this month, CNN points out. In recent weeks, murmurings about Castro’s death have sprung up on Twitter and in other news outlets. On Thursday a respected Florida doctor told El Nuevo Herald, the Spanish-language sister paper of the Miami Herald, that Castro was having “trouble feeding, speaking and recognizing people” after the supposed stroke.
These rumblings seem to have inspired Castro to prove his liveliness. In the Cubadebate article, he took his critics to task, explaining that he stopped publishing his reflections because it’s no longer his “role to take up the pages of our press.”
Cuba’s state media released a message last Wednesday that was said to be from Castro. The message heaped praise on new graduates from a Cuban medical institute celebrating its 50th anniversary, according to CNN. On Sunday, Venezuela’s former Vice President Elias Jaua presented reporters with a picture of Castro that he said was taken the day before, during a five-hour meeting he held with the communist politician. Jaua said Cuba’s controversial ex-leader, who served as the nation’s President for more than three decades, “is doing very well,” according to CNN. The Cubadebate posting seems to echo such optimism.
This week, staff at Havana’s state-run Hotel Nacional, where Jaua was staying when he reportedly met with Castro, told CNN that Castro “had good color” and appeared to be healthy. “He was happy, with a permanent smile on his face, and talking about a lot of things,” Antonio Martinez, the director of the hotel, told CNN.
In 2006, Castro underwent surgery for a mysterious intestinal illness. The surgery did not go well, and he never fully recovered. His brother Raúl Castro took over his position as Cuba’s President in 2008.