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Fidel Castro 'Is Fine,' His Son Tells State-Friendly Blogger

Fidel Castro's son, Alex Castro, is batting away rumors that his father, the former leader of Cuba, had died.

"The commander is fine, doing his daily things, reading, exercising," Alex Castro said.

Castro made the comments to Cuban blogger Yohandry Fontana, whom El Nuevo Herald calls an "officialist." In other words, someone in a position to channel the official Communist Party line.

The Spanish wire agency EFE further reports that the comments were also picked up by Cuba's official news agency.

As El Nuevo Herald writes the rumors of Fidel Castro's demise have swirled for a day now, especially because the last time Castro was photographed was in March, when he met with Pope Benedict XVI.

The 86-year-old Castro handed over power to his brother Raúl back in 2006, when he underwent intestinal surgery.

From what we've been able to find, the rumors are being driven by the reporting of Nelson Bocaranda, a well-known Venezuelan journalist. Saying he had received calls from "friends," Bocaranda said that we would hear about Castro's demise in "72 hours."

That was about 24 hours ago. Today Bocaranda did not back down from his previous statement tweeting, "They're expecting the arrival of Juanita Castro from Miami. She was invited by her brother Raúl to make an 'important family announcement.'"

Of course none of this reporting likely matters: News in Cuba, especially about the health of Castro, is a closely guarded secret and nothing will be official until the government decides to release it.

When that happens, we'll probably hear it from either a televised address or through the Communist Party's official newspaper Granma.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.
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