Castro: "I Am Getting Better"

Cuban President Fidel Castro shown in a screen grab from an interview broadcast Jan. 30, 2007 on Cuban television between Castro and his friend Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Jan. 29, 2007 in Havana, Cuba.
STR/AFP/Getty Images
This article was written by Havana-based CBS News producer Portia Siegelbaum.

Cuban President Fidel Castro says he has undergone not one but several operations, at least partially explaining for the first time, in his own words, why he has been in recovery for so long.

"Initially it wasn't successful and had a bearing on my prolonged recuperation," he writes in his latest written statement, released to foreign media on Wednesday.

The ailing leader goes on to say he is now eating normally after many months on an IV.

The message, to be published Thursday in the state-run Cuban press, tells the Cuban people and the world not to expect him back — at least for the time being. Castro says, for the moment, he is doing what he has to do, "especially to reflect on and write about certain subjects of importance and impact."

The advance copy of his latest commentary, which focuses on the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, ends with personal remarks by the 80-year-old, who was forced to announce he was "temporarily" turning over power to his younger brother Raul last July 31.

In recent weeks he has written a series of editorials focusing on bio-fuels and arguing against the use of corn and other food products to produce ethanol. "I have a lot of material still," he says.

He adds that, while he will never write a lie, he might not write everything he would like to because it could be damaging to his personal relations, and the international relations of his country. This could be a reference to his disagreement with Brazilian President Lula da Silva, who recently signed an agreement with Washington on the production of ethanol from sugar cane.

After stating his intention to continue writing the editorials Castro says: "The rest of the time, I use to read, receive information, speak on the phone with numerous comrades and to do the necessary rehabilitation exercises."

Government officials have been issuing positive statements on Castro's recovery for the last couple of months and often insisting that he is keeping on top of the principle issues facing the nation by frequent telephone contact with the top leadership, in whose hands he left the country's daily affairs after his first operation on July 27.

In the latest statement, Castro says there is "no danger greater than that related to age and health abused by the hazardous times in which it was my fate to live."

The once omnipresent leader also says he has no time to keep up his looks in order to appear in videos or photos "that require that I constantly cut my hair, beard, mustache and polish my appearance every day."

In addition, the Cuban leader says he is swamped in interview requests every time he does appear in photos or videos.

His comments, the first he has made in many months on his state of health, end by saying, "I tell everyone simply that I am getting better and maintain a stable weight of about 176 pounds."

  • Stephen Smith

    Stephen Smith is a senior editor for CBSNews.com