Castro angered by death rumours
on 22/10/2012 18:22:00
An article by him on a state-sponsored website, ironically titled 'Fidel is Dying', is accompanied by photos taken by son Alex that show the revolutionary standing outside wearing a checked shirt and cowboy hat, including one in which he is seen reading Friday's copy of the Communist Party newspaper Granma.
Castro is leaning against a cane in the photos and he looks every bit his 86 years, but his eyes are sharp and his expression determined as he gestures with his left hand.
"I don't even remember what a headache feels like," Castro claims in the article, adding that he was releasing the photos to show "how dishonest" the rumour mongers have been.
Cubans reacted with a mix of support and cynicism.
"He looks well to me and the truth is I'm happy, but one day he will die because at his age he's on borrowed time," said Camilo Fuentes, a 67-year-old Havana resident.
"I think it is a big show," said Carina Rojo, a 57-year-old retiree. "People don't care anymore ... there is much more interest in these things outside the country."
Castro's article was published on the state-run Cubadebate website and in virtually all other state-media later in the day. It is the latest evidence the former Cuban president is alive and seemingly well after more than a week of intense speculation he was seriously ill.
Twitter and other social media sites have been abuzz with claims of Castro's demise.
On Sunday, a visiting former Venezuelan vice president released a photo of a meeting he said he had the previous day with Castro, and a hotel manager also present for part of the meeting claimed Castro's health was "magnificent."
In the article, Castro says he has been dealing with disinformation about Cuba since the Bay of Pigs invasion of 1961.
He criticised Western media he said are in the pocket of the rich, and singled out Spain's ABC newspaper for publishing comments by a Venezuelan doctor who claimed to have information that Castro had suffered a stroke and had weeks to live.
Castro has been out of the public eye since March, when he received the Pope. He also stopped writing his once constant opinion pieces, called "Reflections", the last of which was published in June.
In the article Castro explains that he chose to stop the opinion pieces of his own accord, not because he was too sick to continue them.
"I stopped publishing Reflections because it was really not my role to take up pages in our press which are needed for other work the country requires," he wrote.
Castro stepped down in 2006 following a severe illness, handing power to his brother Raul.