Castro appears in first TV interview since June


HAVANA — Cuban leader Fidel Castro appeared in his first television interview in more than three months on Friday, ending speculation that the ailing revolutionary had died or suffered a major relapse.

Mr. Castro, 81, spoke slowly about world affairs, the Cold War and political history, but appeared little changed from the last time he was shown in a Cuban state television interview on June 5.

Dressed in what has become a customary red, blue and white athletic jacket, sitting in an armchair and showing his age through the grey in his beard and bags under his eyes, Mr. Castro answered questions about an essay he published this week and attacked the United States, his long-time ideological foe.

"Yesterday the euro was at $1.41. Oil I think about $84 a barrel," Mr. Castro said at one point, indicating that he was up to date on current affairs and signalling that the interview was very recent.

He also showed a copy of a book by former U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan, which was published this week.

Mr. Castro, who took power on the Caribbean island in a 1959 revolution, handed over control to his younger brother, Raul Castro, on July 31, 2006 after emergency intestinal surgery. He has not appeared in public since then.

He has been seen in occasional photographs and videos with visiting foreign leaders and has produced a steady of columns and essays printed by state media over the past six months.

His failure to appear on his birthday on Aug. 13 fuelled already rampant rumours in Miami – the heartland of exiled opposition to his near five-decade-long rule – that he had had a major health setback, was on his deathbed or had already died.

Television presenter Randy Alonso said the nearly hour-long taped interview that aired on Friday evening took place earlier in the day.

Mr. Castro's closest ally, leftist Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, said on Friday his political mentor had undergone several blood transfusions and had almost died.

He did not make clear if he was talking about a recent relapse or if he was recounting complications that Mr. Castro suffered after undergoing emergency surgery more than a year ago.

"Fidel is well, clearly he has not finished his recovery. He has a little problem there but he can live like this another 100 years," Mr. Chavez told reporters during a visit to Brazil's Amazon city of Manaus.

Senior Cuban officials said on Thursday that the Cuban leader continues to recover from his health crisis, but they gave no indication he would return to office.

Vice President Carlos Lage said Mr. Castro's recovery was evident from his output of newspaper columns and essays on international issues and political history.

"Fidel is recovering," Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque told reporters in Havana. "It has been a fertile period of work, reading, studying and writing, while keeping in touch with and being involved in the country's main decisions, on which he is consulted."



Our commentary in the Globe and Mail

September 21, 2007

Note: Fidel is a very avid reader of anything in any newspaper anywhere and the probability is that he read the article above and the commentary below. This commentary will be around a long time after his death.



  1. Ottawa Mens, from Ottawa Home of Viva Cuba advertizing signs and waywood Cubana pilots, Canada) wrote: Hola Fidel Castro, You obviously have time to read the Globe and Mail and every other major newspaper that mentions your name. Hugo Chavez says you are going to live for another 100 years. En realidad, Hugo Chavez ha estado orinando en su bolsillo. The pockets on your red athletic suit must be very wet. He obviously owes you favours and this is just one very complimentary way of saying thankyou for all that free oil and Cuban medical help. Fidel, its time for you to face reality, you are dying, very shortly you will be very cold and lying in a box. The world will remember you not for what you did but for what you have not done. You have failed to bring Cuba into the second milenium and it is still a third world country and you will die as a dictator who looks like a loving grandfather but in reality has murdered thousands. How do you wish to be remembered? Your time is running out before you become food for maggots. El mundo le recordará no para lo que usted hizo, pero para lo que usted no ha hecho. Usted ha dejado de traer Cuba en segundo milenium y esto es todavía un país de tercero mundo y usted morirá como un dictador que parece a un abuelo de cariño, pero en realidad ha asesinado miles. ¿Cómo desea usted ser recordado? Su tiempo sale corriendo antes de que usted se haga el alimento para gusanos. Fidel, Su tiempo vivo está cerca del final. Antes de que los gusanos devoren su cara, le gustaría dejar este planeta más postively, pero haciendo algo muy positivo para el futuro de la salida de Cuba de aquel de un país de tercero mundo a aquella de una democracia independant progresiva con su propia cultura orgullosa. Adiós Fidel, disfrute de su permanencia en la choza que mira cara a cara con Maria Laria.