Cuban newspaper says Castro is working again

Published August 13, 2006

HAVANA - Fidel Castro is sitting up, walking and even working a bit on the eve of his 80th birthday, Cuba's official Communist Party newspaper said Saturday. It was the most optimistic report yet since intestinal surgery forced the Cuban leader to step aside as president.

The brief and cryptic article in the Granma newspaper was the most detailed statement Cuba's government has issued since Castro announced July 31 that he was temporarily ceding power to his younger brother Raul, No. 2 in the government. The article cites an unidentified "friend" who said he witnessed Castro walk and talk.

Fidel Castro said his condition during his recovery would be treated as a "state secret," so as not to give any advantage to his enemies in the United States.

"Firm Like a Caguairan," the Granma headline read, comparing Castro to a hardwood tropical tree native to eastern Cuba.

Despite the optimistic assessment of Castro's progress, few believed that he would be making a public appearance on his 80th birthday today.

No official events had been announced for today, although Cuban musicians were staging a Saturday night concert in support of Castro and his government. Official celebrations have been postponed until Dec. 2, the 50th anniversary of the Revolutionary Armed Forces.