Fidel Castro has written a strongly-worded article condemning persistent rumors that he is on his death bed.
The 86-year-old attacked international media “lies”, and published photos of himself in Cuba’s state media.
Fidel Castro said he was in good health, and could not even remember the last time he had a headache.
Venezuelan politician Elias Jaua said on Sunday he had a five-hour meeting with Fidel Castro the previous day.
Elias Jaua presented a photo of the encounter, and said the former Cuban leader was “very well, very lucid”.
The last images of Fidel Castro to be made public had been from March, when the Cuban ex-leader briefly met Pope Benedict XVI during the pontiff’s visit to the Communist island.
Elias Jaua presented a photo of the encounter with Fidel Castro
Fidel Castro’s long absence from the public stage had fuelled rumors on social media sites that his health had deteriorated, or that he may even have died.
“Although a lot of people in the world are taken in by the organs of information, almost all of which are in the hands of the privileged and the rich that publish these stupidities, people are increasingly believing less and less in them,” Fidel Castro said in his article.
He went on to say that he was keeping himself busy writing and studying, but had decided to step back from public life “because it certainly is not my role to occupy the pages of our newspaper”.
Fidel Castro finished off by saying: “I don’t even remember what a headache is. To show what liars they are, I’m offering these photos to accompany this article.”
A series of photos, taken by his son Alex, show him outside wearing a cowboy hat and a checked shirt. In some photos, he is reading Friday’s copy of the Communist Party newspaper Granma.
Fidel Castro led Cuba after the revolution in 1959, first as prime minister (1959-1976) and later as president.
In 2006, surgery took Fidel Castro out of public view. His brother Raul became acting president.
In February 2008, Fidel Castro officially handed over power to Raul who has been leading the country since then.
Fidel Castro has suffered a massive stroke and has only weeks to live, a doctor has claimed.
Jose Rafael Marquina said the 86-year-old revolutionary Cuban leader was in a vegetative state and is “moribund” at a house in western Havana.
Despite this, a letter from Fidel Castro was published by state media denying he was on death’s door. Relatives have also denied the claims.
Jose Rafael Marquina told Spain’s ABC newspaper that Fidel Castro had suffered a “massive embolism of the right cerebral artery” and while not on life support or breathing artificially, was “moribund” at a house in a gated former country club in the Cuban capital.
He also said that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez had travelled suddenly to Havana to be with his friend and ally.
Reached by The Associated Press, Jose Rafael Marquina said his sources were in Venezuela, but he would not identify them or say how they were in a position to have information about Fidel Castro’s health.
He also indicated he had received corroborating evidence from sources on Twitter, but would not say who.
Fidel Castro has suffered a massive stroke and has only weeks to live
His claims have been reported on social media sites and by some news organizations. However, Jose Rafael Marquina, has made some claims before that have not panned out.
In April, Jose Rafael Marquina said that Hugo Chavez, who has been battling an undisclosed kind of cancer, was in his “last days” and would not last to November. With less than two weeks to go, the Venezuelan leader says he’s beaten the illness and appears stronger in public.
Fidel Castro’s health is considered a matter of national security in Cuba and few details are released.
Rumors that the former Cuban leader has died or is near death have circulated repeatedly for years, but they gained force after he failed to issue a public statement congratulating Hugo Chavez on his October 7 election victory.
Fidel Castro has not been seen in public since March, when he received visiting Pope Benedict XVI. He has also stopped writing his once-constant opinion pieces, the last of which appeared in June.
There was no immediate comment from the Cuban government on the latest claims, but a letter attributed to Fidel Castro was published Thursday by Cuban state media. In it, he congratulated graduates of a medical school on the occasion of its 50th anniversary.
Two close family members of Fidel Castro have also recently denied he is in grave condition. Juanita Castro, the former leader’s sister, told the AP in Miami that reports of her brother’s condition are “pure rumors” and “absurd”.
Son Alex Castro told a reporter for a weekly Cuban newspaper that his father “is well, going about his daily life”.