Cuban TV shows Castro meeting with Chavez in first images for three months
Wednesday, January 31, 2007
HAVANA -- Cuban state television on Tuesday showed a video of a healthier looking Fidel Castro meeting and speaking with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, the first images of the ailing leader shown in three months.
The report said the 10-minute video clip was taped Monday during a two-hour private meeting in Havana that was not previously publicized.
The newest images seemed to be aimed at knocking down the most recent round of reports about Castro's health, including a report in the Spanish newspaper El Pais earlier this month that described his health as "grave."
Both leaders appeared to take pains in the video to make clear when the session occurred. Chavez could be heard saying that it began at 3 p.m. Monday. Castro read aloud a headline of an article dated Saturday from the Argentine newspaper Clarin.
Castro, who was standing, looked more alert and heavier than in previous images that had showed him much more thin and frail. Dressed in a red, white and blue track suit, the 80-year-old was also shown sitting and drinking orange juice.
"Fidel has said that we have not lost this battle," Chavez said in the video. "I'll say something more: We have won it."
The broadcast came six months after Castro's July 31 announcement that he had undergone intestinal surgery and was provisionally ceding power to his younger brother Raul. Castro had looked thinner and frailer in the last video images, which aired Oct. 28.
Chavez said in Tuesday's video that he found his friend to be "of good humor, with a good face and in good spirits." He said the pair discussed a variety of issues, including the world's energy crisis and that Castro showed "much clarity, as always, in his ideas and analysis."
Castro stunned the nation six months ago when he temporarily stepped aside for his younger brother, the 75-year-old defense minister. Since then, Raul Castro has led the nation at the head of a collaborative leadership that has kept the government running calmly in his brother's absence from public life.
Chavez said he felt "happiness, jubilation, to find Fidel as I have found him" and thanked "everyone: the relatives, comrades, doctors, nurses for the great effort they are making."