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Castro to world: I'm not dead

October 29, 2006|From Times Wire Services

HAVANA — Ailing Cuban leader Fidel Castro dismissed rumors that he was dead Saturday in television images showing him walking, talking on the telephone and reading the day's news.

In the first images of him issued in six weeks, Castro, 80, said he was taking part in government decision-making, following the news and making regular telephone calls as he recovers from intestinal surgery in early August, when he temporarily ceded power to his brother Raul, 75.

"Now that our enemies have prematurely declared me dying or dead, I am happy to send my compatriots and friends around the world this short film material," Castro said. "Now let's see what they say."

A television presenter said the images of the leader, aimed to quell rumors of Castro's death, were recorded Saturday afternoon.

The images showed a gaunt Castro browsing through Saturday's edition of Granma, the Communist Party daily newspaper, walking slowly out of an elevator in a track suit and talking on a telephone in a loud, clear voice.

The Cuban government has treated Castro's ailment as a state secret, and rumors that he may have died had intensified in recent weeks.

He has not made a public appearance since July 26, a few days before he underwent surgery.

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