Latin America & Caribbean

Cuba's Fidel Castro attacks 'lies' about his health

Fidel Castro in a picture released by Cubadebate on 22/10/12 Image copyright AP
Image caption Fidel Castro insists he is in very good health

Cuba's revolutionary former leader Fidel Castro has written a strongly-worded article condemning persistent rumours that he is on his death bed.

The 86-year-old attacked international media "lies", and published photos of himself in Cuba's state media.

He said he was in good health, and could not even remember the last time he had a headache.

Venezuelan politician Elias Jaua said on Sunday he had a five-hour meeting with Mr Castro the previous day.

He presented a photo of the encounter, and said the former Cuban leader was "very well, very lucid".

The last images of Mr Castro to be made public had been from March, when the Cuban ex-leader briefly met Pope Benedict during the pontiff's visit to the Communist island.

Mr Castro's long absence from the public stage had fuelled rumours on social media sites that his health had deteriorated, or that he may even have died.

Keeping busy

"Although a lot of people in the world are taken in by the organs of information, almost all of which are in the hands of the privileged and the rich that publish these stupidities, people are increasingly believing less and less in them," Mr Castro said in his article.

Image caption Mr Jaua showed a picture of his encounter with Fidel Castro on Saturday

He went on to say that he was keeping himself busy writing and studying, but had decided to step back from public life "because it certainly is not my role to occupy the pages of our newspaper".

He finished off by saying: "I don't even remember what a headache is. To show what liars they are, I'm offering these photos to accompany this article."

A series of photos, taken by his son Alex, show him outside wearing a cowboy hat and a checked shirt. In some photos, he is reading Friday's copy of the Communist Party newspaper Granma.

Fidel Castro led Cuba after the revolution in 1959, first as prime minister (1959-1976) and later as president.

In 2006, surgery took Fidel Castro out of public view. His brother Raul became acting president.

In February 2008, Fidel Castro officially handed over power to Raul who has been leading the country since then.

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