Rumors about the failing health and imminent death of former Cuban President Fidel Castro appear to have been exaggerated—at least if you believe photos and a letter published by state-run media on Monday.
"I don't even remember what a headache feels like," read the letter that was published under Castro's name in Cubadebate. The letter was accompanied by photographs said to be taken by Fidel's son Alex. One photo shows the the former leader standing outside wearing a straw hat and reading Friday's copy of the Communist party newspaper Granma.
The photos were published, according to the Castro-bylined letter, to show "how dishonest" those spreading rumors about his poor health have been. They came one day after former Venezuelan Vice President Elias Jaua showed off what he says was a picture of Castro attending a weekend meeting.
Speculation of Castro's failing health was prompted in part by his uncharacteristic silence in the wake of ally Hugo Chavez's re-election to the Venezuelan presidency this month. Castro's last public appearance was in March for Pope Benedict XVI's visit.
Addressing the sudden stoppage of his opinion pieces in state media in June, the letter explains (translation via Globe and Mail): "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."