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Castro article criticizes ill health rumors

HAVANA -- Fidel Castro, in an article published yesterday in state media said he doesn't even suffer from headaches.

The article, ironically titled "Fidel is Dying," criticizes those who spread rumors he was on his death bed and is accompanied by photos taken by son Alex Castro that show the revolutionary icon standing outside, wearing a red checkered shirt and straw farmer's hat. In one he is seen reading Friday's copy of the Communist Party newspaper Granma.

Castro is leaning against a cane in the photos and he looks every bit his 86 years, but his eyes are sharp and his expression determined as he gestures with his left hand.

"I don't even remember what a headache feels like," Castro claims in the article, saying he was releasing the photos to show "how dishonest" the rumormongers have been.

Cubans reacted with a mix of support and cynicism.

"He looks well to me and the truth is I'm happy, but one day he will die because at his age he's on borrowed time," said Camilo Fuentes, 67, a Havana resident.

"I think it is a big show," said Carina Rojo, 57. "People don't care anymore . . . there is much more interest in these things outside the country."

Castro's article was published on the state-run Cubadebate website, and in virtually all other state media later in the day.

In the article, Castro says he has been dealing with disinformation about Cuba since the Bay of Pigs invasion of 1961.

Castro has been out of the public eye since March, when he received visiting Pope Benedict XVI. He also stopped writing his once constant opinion pieces, called "Reflections," the last of which was published in June.

Castro stepped down in 2006 following a severe illness, handing power to his brother Raúl, who is 81.

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