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Photographs Show Cuba’s Castro Ailing, But Alert After Surgery

BY Admin  August 14, 2006 at 12:30 PM EST

Presidents Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro

The six photos, posted Monday in Granma newspaper’s online edition, showed a tired-looking but alert Castro sitting up in bed, wearing a red sweatshirt.

The pictures appeared a day after the Communist Youth newspaper Juventud Rebelde printed the first images of Castro since it was announced two weeks ago that the leader was undergoing intestinal surgery and temporarily handing power to his younger brother Raul.

Chavez, Castro’s closest friend and political ally, gave the elder Castro a dagger and coffee cup that once belonged to South American independence fighter Simon Bolivar, Venezuela’s state news service ABN reported.

In a statement published in the newspaper, Castro warned his country of an extended recovery.

“To affirm that the recovery period will take a short time and that there is no risk would be absolutely incorrect,” Castro said. “I ask you all to be optimistic, and at the same time to be ready to face any adverse news.”

The story in Granma said Castro was walking around, talking again and working a little, according to the AP.

Two photos showed Castro talking on the telephone, visiting with Chavez and holding up a special birthday supplement of the newspaper published Saturday.

Raul Castro, 75, has been shown in photos and on state television saluting and embracing Chavez at the airport. He has made no public statements since being put in charge of the country on July 31.

News of Castro’s surgery and the temporary transfer of power have reportedly made Cubans uneasy about the future of their country, but public statements made by government officials have helped calm the public.